27 March 2020, A Flash of Friday Fiction
Together the Weather
Douglas smiled to himself as he made his way home. Across the bridge he tramped, drizzling rain sneaking its way down the inside of his jacket, trickling coldly between his shoulder blades. He cradled a large bunch of red roses protectively towards him, hoping Andrea would like them.
When he had left the house that morning, he had been in a strop. She’d hardly stopped going on at him since he’d opened his eyes. He imagined she had a secret list somewhere that she pulled out and chose his ‘failings of the day’ from, catching him unawares. It always took his mind a moment to catch up to what he’d done wrong now.
Well, that had been this morning. He was hoping to find Andrea in a better mood when he got home. This menopause seemed to be more stressful for the husbands than the wives, he thought ruefully. He’d tried talking to his friend, Jack, about it down at the Men’s Shed, but Jack had brushed him off. “Just ignore it, mate,” he’d shrugged. “That’s what I do. I just let her get her rant over, then come down here and hide.”
Douglas wasn’t sure that was the best solution. He still remembered the beautiful girl with the cloud of auburn hair and cutely freckled nose that he’d fallen in love with. She was so miserable now that he couldn’t bear it. But this morning, he’d been standing in a queue at the newsagents when he’d overheard a couple of women ahead of him discussing it.
“I wish he’d pay a bit more attention,” one said to the other, who nodded. “He doesn’t listen to a thing I say, and then, it’s as if this monster takes over, roaring and shouting at him.
“It’s the hormones, Jean,” her friend replied. “You need to explain that to him.”
After he’d collected his newspaper, Douglas had trotted along to the library, as he did most mornings, but today instead of settling down with the sports pages, he’d shyly asked the librarian to find him a book on “the change of life”.
“I’m home, love,” he called as he stepped carefully through the back door, shrugging off his wet jacket and stepping out of his soaking shoes. Andrea was sitting at the kitchen table, her head in her hands.
“I can’t do this anymore, Douglas,” she sobbed.
“No, love.” He set the bouquet of roses and his library book on the table in front of her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. “But we can.”