March 13, 2017 § Leave a comment
He’d say she brought it on herself.
Always on at him to get a hobby, she was. Said he’d be bored when he retired, sitting around, nothing to do and cluttering up the place. Said he should get an allotment but he didn’t fancy that. Oh, sure, he’d mow the lawn of a Sunday, or trim the hedge, maybe, but all those potatoes and onions, all your brassicas and beans, he’ll leave those to the others. She was on about him joining a club next, the bowls team or a walking club. Bloody stupid idea, if you asked him, and he told her as much; said the only reason to go for a walk was to get away from other people, not to meet up with the buggers.
He’s had an idea all along though. Wasn’t going to tell her, mind, not until he needs to. She’d only have gone on at him, what about this and have you thought of that? How’s a man supposed to think about anything with her always in his ear, that’s what he wants to know. That’s what he wanted to say, and all, but of course he never did, just went out to his shed after dinner and got on with his plans.
Animals, they’re his thing. She knew that. She knows that. Cockatiels to cockerpoos, terrapins to terriers. He’s no idea what she was thinking, saying he’d be bored. Sometimes he thinks she’d rather there were fewer animals. Sometimes he sees her at the kitchen sink, looking down the garden, and he wonders whether she’s angry about the goats on the back lawn, or because she can’t see them for the stick insects on the windowsill. Or whether she’s just mardy like his friend Bill says women get after a time.
She liked the first dog well enough, and even the second, but now she says four is too many, and must they have so many cats, not to mention the hamsters and the rabbits and that bloody scary lizard thing? She’s no idea that it’s all part of his plan.
He’s out in the shed most evenings now, sawing and hammering, staining and varnishing. He’s building bird tables to suit all styles and tastes, a range any homeowner would be proud of. Suitable for all, from tit to hawk. But that’s not all. He’s drawn up plans for dog kennels, rabbit cages, aviaries, apiaries, terrariums, vivariums, aquariums. He’ll make the lot and he’ll flog them all. She’ll see. She’ll see soon enough.
For now, though, the bird tables stand at the edge of the front garden, sited to catch the eye of any passing trade. She’s been tutting and saying they ruin the view, there’s that many of them it’s like living in a fortress. He tells her not to be so bloody daft, they’ll be gone in a week, just you watch.
The woman sits in the wing-backed chair by the bay window, stroking her tired old cat; she’s thinking about how it was when the man was still at work all the time, and It was just her and this first cat. At home, at peace.