Friday, 27 May 2011

Looking Out

She looked out the front window of her corner two-up-two-down. It looked sunny, a clear blue sky, and nice weather to be outside, relaxing; if you only gave it a cursory glance. But she looked closer, as she folded her arms and hugged her shoulders, tugging on her thin inadequate cardigan; the trees in the distance, those showing above the houses on the far side of the narrow empty road, were billowing and even here, at this distance, you could hear the foliage rustling. And it was a cold wind, a sharp cold wind that cut into you, that blew away all the heat in her house. The cloudless wind was deceptive; she could feel it being deliberately malicious.

She could see Jake, her husband, out there; she stepped back, she did not want to appear to be watching, that might be mistaken for interest, a point of contact. Three times a week he was out in their small garden: Monday was allocated to the hedge along the pavement on two sides, Tuesday was the front grass and Thursday was the back grass. He could spend hours out there trimming and clipping and sweeping. Today was a Monday.

Since his retirement Jake had little to do apart from mope about the house getting in her way. Apart, that is, for these three afternoons a week where the garden was something to be manicured rather then enjoyed. And even in those three periods, of what should have been respite for her, he could be incredibly annoying.

She hated the prissy way Jake cut that hedge. He would raise the trimmer and make the smallest jab at the hedge. Then stand back and contemplate the cut, the trimmer hissing at his side. When suitably aroused he made another tentative jab at the hedge before relapsing into another spell of hissing contemplation. All this reflection, indecision and procrastination meant the hedge took an eternity to cut; with the sound of that trimmer throbbing maliciously in her head. She hated Mondays only a little more than Tuesdays or Thursdays; they always gave her a headache.

There was nothing for it but to lay on the couch and bury her head in her hands. There was no point in attempting to read a magazine or watch some tedious afternoon television as the; the motor of the trimmer was to intrusive and dominating. All she could do was wait, hold her head, and try not to cry.

The noise of the trimmer, at last, had subsided and she could hear the occasional swish of the broom as Jake cleaned up the hedge trimmings. She got her regular aspirin ready; it would soon be time for it, there was no point taking it to early as she would only need a second one. Again she looked out the window, standing far enough back not to be seen; really, for all that effort the hedge looked no better than when he started. The top was all uneven and wavy, patches looked threadbare where it had been cut back to leafless sticks. It would have been better if he had not bothered; just like their marriage.

He was still on the outside; but she hated that, even when he was on the outside, he intruded on her on the inside.

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