She watched him chopping the top off his boiled egg, and spooning the contents out onto his freshly buttered ‘soldier’.
She’d told him soldiers were for dipping, and not to be used as undercarriage for the egg, but for the umpteenth time he’d responded that he liked his eggs firm, like his women.
‘Christ, you crack me up,’ she thought grimly, steeling herself against the slow creep of boredom and exasperation that threatened to engulf her these days.
He shook out the newspaper.
“Have you been reading this?” he asked, eyeing the less than pristine crease down the centrefold.
“I think it was the dog.” She was confident he would not be paying attention.
“It should be re-folded properly.”
“I’ll tell him,” she said, “but you know what he’s like.”
The clock struck eight.
“I’ll be a bit late tonight. Sales meeting. What are we having for dinner?” he said, shrugging himself into his jacket.
“Tagliatelle with toadstools, and stewed dandelion leaves with custard for dessert.”
“Excellent.” He kissed her cheek absently. “Go easy on the garlic will you, dear?”
When he’d gone, she finished clearing the table, and took another cup of coffee out into the garden where she lit a forbidden cigarette.
When, she wondered, did he ever get so boring?
What happened to the guy she married fifteen years ago, the one who kept her in stitches with his jokes, the man who could startle her with his perceptive observations about life in general?
Where was the spontaneous lover, the quicksilver intellect that had kept her on her toes?
She sighed, pulling out the ironing board and spent the next hour or so ironing his regulation white shirts, pressing his supposedly perma-creased slacks, pairing his uniform grey socks, and folding his comfortable cardigans.
Where were the denim jeans, the flip-flops, and the washed-out tee shirts these days, she wondered.
She took the ironed clothes upstairs and, searching for more hangers, she rummaged at the back of his wardrobe. There was an unfamiliar suit carrier hanging from the rail, and beneath it a small vanity case, unlike anything she had ever owned.
Extracting them, she investigated further, her jaw dropping in amazement.
It was almost eight when he let himself into the house. There was no sign of dinner being underway. He frowned.
He entered the dimly lit sitting room and jumped nervously when he saw her sitting in the corner, glass of wine in hand and a half smoked cigarette dangling from her fingers.
He sniffed and frowned.
“You know I don’t like……”
“Shut up,” she hissed. “Come here.”
He shifted uneasily in the doorway.
“I want to kiss you,” she said urgently.
He ran a finger round the inside his collar.
“Because dearest, for the first time in years, you actually interest me.”
He blinked at her.
“Don’t talk in riddles. Where’s my dinner?”
“Plenty of time for dinner later, dearest. Right now I’ve got something else in mind. See how I’ve dolled myself up for you?”
The dress did look familiar to him.
“I’ve got plans for us this evening,” she continued. “So I thought I’d wear your favourite dress.”
“I don’t understand,” he muttered, though he was beginning to think he did.
“Your favourite dress,” she drawled. “You naughty little boy.”