Thursday, 3 December 2015

A Tranquil Sketch

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.
You've 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 pages.
No, 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. 
Now 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.
That's 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.”
Yes 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.
She 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 company of.
Again she sighed, a shorter exhale this time and a little huffier.
He 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...”
Leaving 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.”
He held 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.
Oh God, 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