Sunday 21st March 2010
Gestation: 25 weeks, 2 days
One year ago.
It’s Sunday afternoon. So it’s time to tinker.
Last week I bought a new car. A little car, so that both will now fit in the driveway. I’m determined that they will. So I spend the afternoon rigging up a mirror system so they’ll fit. It’s a close call. Really close. Like, four centimetres close.
But only after cutting away a section of the fence.
I’m the dog, and there’s the bone.
* * * * *
Meantime, inside, I hear the sound of the bath running. Suse has lived in her body for thirty-five years, and knows when she needs a bath. She knows her limits, and when she just needs to treat herself gently.
Like when you just found out you’re not pregnant.
This is the time for a Sunday afternoon bath.
* * * * *
I cut and hammer outdoors, my industriousness in direct juxtaposition to Suse’s stillness indoors. It’s the beauty of a marriage that two beings who find solace in the opposite, can work together.
The irony being that while I am a flurry of movement on the outside, within I am focused and calm. Suse is still as a post on the outside, and… well, you get the drift.
I walk into the house, all sweat and sawdust. Suse is covered in a sheen of moisturiser, having just emerged in a dressing gown.
“Do you need your car tomorrow?” I ask.
“Can we swap them then?”
“Give me a minute.”
A few moments later, I’m in my new car and carefully backing out of the driveway. Suse backs hers out, and I come back in, looking at the newly rigged mirror, nudging my nose up against the fence. As I do this, I hear a noise from behind. I look in my rear-view mirror to see the image of Suse, in her car, the side mirror jammed up against the roller door post.
“This isn’t good,” I say to myself. I actually do. Like I’m in a movie, I actually whisper the message to the audience.
A second later, it begins. “Fuuuuuccccckkkkk!!!!” I hear through two panes of glass.
I get out, ready for it.
“You just had to move the cars, didn’t you, Mark? You just had to! Look what happened!
Suse storms into the house, feet thumping against the floor.
“I’m sick of living in this shitty little house with its shitty little drive way!” A primeval scream emerges from her lips. She storms back up the hall. “It’s all about your car, your precious new car, isn’t it? It has to be all about you, doesn’t it?”
“And when were you going to do the dishes? They’ve been on the sink all day! You said you were going to do them last night?”
“Hey,” I say, warningly, “let’s not make this about something else right now. Don’t take this out on me because you’re a shit driver.”
“I’m going for a walk!”
I walk out the back with purpose, past the broken car, and half way down the street. A comical moment ensues, as I’m forced to re-enter the house and scramble around for my wallet.
“Have you seen my wallet?” I ask, not really expecting an answer.
It’s hard to look furious while searching for your keys.
I leave again, this time through the front door, at least being able to punctuate it with a slam. I walk again. For a moment, I actually wonder whether steam is coming from my ears. I notice the pressure in my head, the weight of all of this shit, all of this that has happened in the last six months, pressing against my brainstem.
I walk and walk, the ground hard against my feet. I head, instinctively, for the pub around the corner. I enter, wearing my paint-stained T-shirt and shorts, trying to look nonchalant.
A group of Gen-Y-ers look me up and down.
I stand at the bar for about a second, waiting for non-existent service, before poking my head around a corner.
“Can I grab a beer, please?”
“Sorry, we’re just closing.”
I leave, walking some more. I do a loop, thinking, processing, trying to get clarity. But all I feel is anger. Fury at everything. Anger at Suse. Anger at what has happened – today and every other day of this saga. Anger at every other fucker who can get pregnant. But mainly – right now – anger at Suse.
And so I make a decision.
I head back towards home. I walk back into the house, heading straight for the bedroom. I walk straight past Suse, who is there at the sink, washing dishes. I change from my work clothes into jeans and a top.
And then I leave again.
Without a word.
I get in my old car, the one not hemmed in, out on the street, and I speed off. In a dramatic move, I drive five minutes down the road to a fast food store and buy a burger.
Meantime, Suse rings. She leaves messages on my voicemail. But I just need space. So I text back:
‘Please stop calling. I need space to cool off. I will be home later.’
And then I go to a movie.
The movie is shit.
Or that’s how it feels, anyway.
* * * * *
I return home at 11.30pm, to find Suse on the couch, waiting up.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she begins. “I’m so sorry that I abused you like that. I’m really trying. I’m just…” Her voice trails off.
I resist the temptation to tell her it’s okay.
“Everyone has their limits, Suse. Everyone. And that was mine.”
I stand up and walk to the bedroom.
I change into pyjamas.
To get into bed and lie awake in the dark.
* * * * *