“I'd like to be shot with a tranquilliser gun.” she uttered with a deadpan face, but with her hands tightly held in her seated lap.
been reading too much Hemingway.” He replied without even bothering
to lower the newspaper he was concealed behind, his eyes scanning the
world news and political articles before turning to the back sports
seriously,” she returned, “I'd like to be darted right now. Ring
for the local vet or a game or zoo keeper.” Said in a tone that
gave nothing away, no hints or wavers, no rising hysteria, no
misgivings, a flat calm to her modulated pitch.
look here. It's not as bad as all that,” he began to remonstrate
sounding like a wearied school master lecturing to a worried pupil,
or a father trying to reason with his tiresome daughter, “you're
over-thinking as per usual. Meeting my mother is a light matter and
not something to request being shot for. You'll love her and she will
in time love you once she gets to know you better.” Which was said
whilst peering, almost severely, over the top of his rustling paper
at his seemingly perfectly composed partner sitting opposite.
not very reassuring,” she muttered, before raising her monotone
voice a little, “you'll just lucky both my parents are dead, God
rest their souls. You have nobody except me to impress, and you don't
even try very hard to do that.”
dearest.” Being quite a bit older he was old-fashioned in his
colloquialism, and had found this was by far the best way to appease
worrisome women. It demonstrated you were listening, even if you
weren't, to whatever they were prattling on about, and it was most
helpful to have a newspaper to hand to hold in your feelings and
avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness.
sighed. A long deep woe-is-me out-take of breath.... a sure sign that
she was waiting for more of a response to her self-inflicted drama.
He chose to ignore it, ruffling his paper and blowing a corner to
turn the large page over, and when he succeeded after much to-do
continued to study the football scores, despite not having much
interest in the sport itself. He was more of a cricket man, but you
had to know what's what if you wanted to keep in with the ol' boys,
and the young ones too, that he sometimes found himself in the
she sighed, a shorter exhale this time and a little huffier.
grunted, closed and folded his paper and flung it down on the coffee
table beside him, and tried before he began to desist from becoming
across as condescending. A timbre of kindness was what he was after.
He hemmed and hawed and observed his about-to-bolt partner, “My
dear girl, stop this ineffectual worrying. The doorbell will ring,
you'll answer, invite her in, take her coat, compliment her on her
hat for the old girl will wear one I can assure you of that, and show
her into the sitting room. I'll pass the time while you make the tea
and serve the dainties that you spent a lifetime dissecting. The
conversation will flow, the time will go quickly, and before you know
it we'll be ordering a taxi to take her home. Or perhaps I could take
her...but we can come to that later...”
me to clear up I imagine,” she interrupted, her brow furrowed with
creases, “it sounds as though you've had it all planned from the
beginning. The good little woman looking after her hard working man.”
up his broad palms in mock surrender, “You know I can never win in
this situation. All women see each other as competition regardless of
their position, but my mother is not the dragon you picture. She's
harmless, as are you when you play nicely.” He smiled hoping his
attempt at humour would produce a mirrored smile, but she only stared
back at him glumly and visibly seemed to sink lower into the seat of
the armchair, her shoulder-length brunette hair swinging around her
tired and drained face.
this is going to be awful, he thought inwardly groaning, but before
he could deliberate more, the doorbell chimed and before he could
swear blasphemously his partner had catapulted herself through the
open patio door and scrambled over the fence.
Picture Credit: Hunters in the Snow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565