Silent Night

She’s reading a magazine at the kitchen table, her swollen feet on the opposite chair. He comes in, she looks up and stares, not in surprise or anything. It’s just the way she is. He stares at her briefly, takes his coat off, his shoes off, and goes into the kitchen. She retreats to the living room and turns on the television at low volume. He opens the fridge, looking for a quick bite. He takes out an apple and some cheese, pours himself a tall glass of water. He looks into the living room.

It’s a small apartment. It can’t be said that any room is her domain more than his. Actually, the lazy boy is his territory. He keeps the remote in a pouch on the side. She likes the couch. She’s got her wool and knitting needles in a basket tucked away at the foot of the plant. She doesn’t want food in the living room, so he stands in the doorway munching on the apple and cheese. He likes that salty and sweet combo.

Something smells good in the oven – he peeks. It’s lasagna. He’ll prepare a salad to go with that.  He tosses the apple core, gets the lettuce, whistling softly all the while. He checks the timer – a good ten minutes to go. She’s timed it well. He sets the table, washes and tosses the salad. Is he missing anything? He goes to the bedroom and changes into more relaxed clothes.

The timer goes off – he hears the television set getting shut off, the creaking of the sofa. He washes up and joins her at the kitchen table. She’s served the salad into individual bowls and landed a large piece of lasagna in each plate. They savour their meal, not talking, happy for the filling food. He stretches, goes for a cigarette. He looks up. She’s staring. She takes the one he’s offering her and he takes another for himself. He lights hers up, then his. They savour the smoke, not talking, happy for the small transgression.

He gets up to do the dishes and tidy up. He turns on the radio – it’s oldies, which they both enjoy. She stays in the kitchen, and gets going on the last sleeve. She’s knitting a vest for Laura, their grandchild. It’s red with flowers all around the border and the sleeves. She wants it done in time for her first day of school. It’s a bit big but she’ll grow into it. Red is her favourite colour.

If she’s going to be knitting, he’ll probably go for a walk and a beer, see if anybody’s there. He wishes once again that they had a dog. Then he wouldn’t go for a drink, just for a walk. He feels like a stalker when he walks by himself. He’s done with the dishes, he heads for the door. She grabs her knitting, turns off the radio and heads for the living room. “Jeopardy” is on shortly.

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