This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 766 words.
Being married was a lot more than just sleeping in the same bed, and spending more time with just one person. Especially when you were married to someone who worked shifts, and you worked nine-to five on weekdays. It wasn’t long before I got some idea what that was like.
Arriving home one Wednesday, I was surprised to find Fliss and Jackie there with Becky. She hadn’t mentioned they were coming, and the three of them were already quite tipsy even though it wasn’t much after six. Dinner turned out to be an assortment of cheeses, followed by chocolates and ice cream, all washed down with copious amounts of red and white wine. Conversation was all about the hospital, and was quite raucous too.
I went to bed after midnight, facing a full day at work, and I could still hear them chatting until three in the morning. It wasn’t worth a huge argument, but when I got back worn out that night to find them still there, I wasn’t amused. They all had the same three days off, and had decided to make the most of them together. Becky dragged me out with them to a Mexican place in Hendon, and I sat nibbling my chimichangas as they prattled on about who they didn’t like at work, and who they did, before deciding to neck a shitload of Tequila. Another day tired at work.
Fortunately, that sort of thing didn’t happen too often, though the additional downside was that Becky then had to work nights all weekend, leaving me feeling at a loose end.
The money was running out too. Bit by bit, my old stuff had been replaced, with Becky and her mum deciding it was all too ‘masculine’. I came home one day to find all new stuff in the kitchen. Fridge-freezer, washing machine, and dishwasher, all in a steel-grey colour. Becky said it was more modern. I though it looked industrial, like a company canteen, or a restaurant kitchen. But she hadn’t spoken about it, and hadn’t told me she had bought it.
Ultimately, it was her money. We didn’t have a joint account, and both paid half of the bills by direct debit. Shopping for groceries was paid for weekly, taking turns, and the only joint money was in a savings account that hadn’t been touched since the wedding. The truth was, I didn’t really care if the toaster matched the microwave, and that matched the washing machine.
But it would have been nice to have been asked.
Our first annversary came and went. Becky had to work, so we agreed not to bother to celebrate. A few cards arrived, and there were phone calls from some friends, and both sets of parents. The weekend after, we bought a table and chairs for the garden, and some more plants for the borders. Although the garden wasn’t that big, we had finally turned it into a nice place to sit and relax. Except that rarely happened, between the days when it was cold and wet, or Becky was at work. Then that summer, I had a new lesson to learn, one about jealousy in a marriage.
Some guy at the bank was having a barbecue at his house, to celebrate his fortieth. I was surprised when he invited us, so accepted without thinking. When I told Becky the date, she said she was working that weekend, but that I should go. She even suggested that I get a taxi both ways so I could have a drink, even though that would cost me close to eighty quid, plus tip. I told her I wasn’t bothered to go alone, but she kept on about it until I decided to go.
To tell the truth, I had a good time. Far too many beers, a good laugh about some characters at the bank, and a lively crowd of friends and neighbours who I had never met, but enjoyed the company of. Full-on drunk at the end, I eventually cancelled the return taxi and stayed until the last knockings, accepting the bloke’s offer to crash on his sofa.
The next day I crept in sheepishly, fully expecting a barrage of questions once Becky woke up. But she didn’t say anything, and seemed really pleased to see me. She said she guessed I had drunk too much, and stayed over, and was just really glad that I had got out and enjoyed myself when she had to work. Instead of being happy about that, I was strangely disappointed.
I realised I had wanted her to be jealous.