Washing up

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Two dashes of rain like exclamation marks on the kitchen window.

She is standing at the sink, in front of the window, and her hands are immersed in tired dishwater; the last of the soap bubbles cling like barnacles to the edges of the bowl.

She’s staring out, looking into the middle distance, not seeing the almost-dry bedsheets as they start to spot with rain. The phone had rung and she’d picked it up, expecting a bored voice trying to sell her something, or perhaps her mother-in-law wondering again if they’d be visiting her this weekend as they’d not been over in a while. Even as her hand curled round the receiver she was rehearsing the lines in her head that would guide Irene back to today, where the family had visited only last Saturday and she’d served up plated salad with cold roast ham, as she always did. Two, three times a week now, the calls. Nothing to worry about just yet. She’d surely not slipped far enough, and anyway, with Mark away on the road so much, and the kids to look after. There’s only so much time a person has to give. Only so much attention.

It wasn’t a sales call, though, and it wasn’t her mother-in-law. A woman’s voice, asking for Mark, and when she said Mark wasn’t there, could she help, the woman couldn’t get off the phone fast enough.

Probably nothing.

Probably just a colleague.

Outside, the rain is turning heavier.

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