Printed from WriteWords -

Husbands and Wives

by  archgimp

Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2006
Word Count: 497
Summary: This is the first attempt I made at Flash Fiction without a prompt. I've done more since, but challenges have superceded them in the one-per-two-days-rule priority.

Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Like any husband would know his wife’s routine; he knew where Susan was headed. Every morning when she woke up it was the same. Into the bathroom, off with the nightdress then those heavenly moments when she was in the shower, shielded by polythene curtain: he could get fifteen precious minutes of drowsy rest before his own day proper began.

His mobile ringing was like a bucket of ice water, rending him from his fleeting slumber.

“Hello?” Damn, it was his mother again.

“I’m fine, mum. What do you want?” His voice sulky: thirteen again.

He cast his eyes towards the bathroom; fearful Susan might have heard the phone’s shrill chirp and cut her shower short to investigate.

“No, mum. I’m not. I’m really not” He glanced guiltily at the cigarette stubs in the grimy pie-tin ashtray. “I told you I’d stopped didn’t I?”

Christ, she could be a pain. He wasn’t thirteen any more. He was a grown man, with grown man’s problems. He frowned at both her continuing tirade and Susan’s figure silhouetted in the door to the bathroom. She was towelling dry her hair. Not a word to him as usual. Her long blonde locks were straightened and darkened by the shower’s kiss. Steam rose off her like freshly baked bread, he realised he’d probably be able to catch that sweet smell if he moved no more than ten yards in her direction. Still, he didn’t rise.

“Christ, mum. I’m not asking you to believe me. I’m telling you it’s none of your business!” With this he hung up and lit a cigarette defiantly, sucking the filter as though it carried mother’s milk.

Through the smoky haze he watched Susan dress and begin applying her makeup. He had a good view of her face now in the mirror. Her expression faintly sad, as though she’d finished a good book and knew that the sequel was a year away. Still not a word to him, not even an acknowledgement of his existence. Maybe he should call to her, let her know he was still there for her. After all these years; still hers.

But he knew her heart was someone else’s. He’d watched, impotent and fuming, as the surreptitious relationship blossomed from colleague to friend to lover. Muted; because to say something, anything, was admission to her that he’d known and not acted. Cared and been careless.

His mobile was ringing.


His mother again: a few remorseful words of warning; too late, the flashing blue police lights were already pulling up outside Susan’s door.

“You BITCH! Some fucking mother YOU are!” his frenzied screaming into the phone so intense that he only caught the last few words from the constable who had crossed the street and was now standing behind him in the derelict building’s windowed stairwell: “…breach of your restraining order, sir”

As they dragged him to the police car with hands cuffed: Susan smiled, and it was all worth it. Every moment.