I stand for a second before the door, my hands on the cold knob, my body aching.. craving the minute it will crash on the couch. I take a deep breath. What mood I will have to deal with tonight?
Finally, I take the decision; I push the knob down to release the door open. I step in slowly… Silence!
No kids running to meet me with their sweet voices squealing “Dadddyyyyyy”, no TV noise coming from the living room.. nothing! As I move around to close the squeaky door, I sneak a glance at my wristwatch; it’s still as early as 7:00 pm! It can’t be that they are all sleeping!
I move smoothly towards the brown and lime green living room, there they are. I stop to contemplate them. Both kids are using her arms as pillows, one on each side, she -as usual- slumbering while still in a sitting position. The TV is on but is muted, streaming Tarzan from the external hard disk connected to it. Recently, it’s been the kids’ favorite.
– “Hey,” I said.
She is not sleeping probably. Am sure she has heard me opening the door and walking in. She never sleeps deeply, at least, not when she is alone at home.
She opens her eyes slowly, without moving her head: “Hey!” She closes her eyes again.
I was about to put my laptop bag on the dining table, but then remembered how that will just tick her off. So I change direction to the desk in the corner of the living room, and I lay the bag on top of it instead. She opens her eyes, looks at me, and still with her head laid on the back of the couch, she says in an instructive tone: “Under the desk, not above, please!” I smile sarcastically, pick up the bag, and put it as told: “Ok, relax!”
She opens her eyes; gives me that look which I never understand: is she mocking or reprimanding me?
She stands up, picks up our daughter first –she is lighter in weight, hence probably hinting I should do the same with the boy. I have to get it quickly or else I could upset her. I definitely don’t want to push any buttons tonight. So I hurry to the couch, I follow her up the stairs, and into the children’s room. In silence and darkness, we lay both of them in their beds. I walk out immediately, while she lingers a little longer. She ensures the boy is properly tucked in, the side pillows are securely set beside them so they won’t roll in their sleep and fall off the bed, their shoes and slippers are in their right place, etc.
I succumb to the callings of my aching body, and I wander to our room. Can’t wait to just take off my suit jacket, my shoes and lay there on the bed for a few minutes. The game will start in half an hour, I will have time to change, shower, eat and chat with her a little, then if am in the good books, I could then watch the Barca game in peace. Fingers crossed! Wait a minute; I could scroll through my Facebook timeline for few seconds now.
She walks in. Evades looking at me, unplugs her phone from the charger, and starts browsing her FB and twitter timelines too. I know because she shares some posts and comments on others, and they keep popping up on my screen instantly. She wastes so much of her energy arguing with or talking to people online.
Yet, I ask: “What are you doing?” She goes silent for few seconds. I forget I asked anything and get engrossed again in my timeline updates, then I finally hear her saying: “What does it look like am doing?!”
– “What’s wrong?!” I flip, pulling myself up.
She looks at me with a fake surprised look:
– “What?! Nothing!”
– “So nothing is wrong?!” I say sarcastically.
– “No!” she directs her attention again to her phone screen.
– “Ok, just making sure!”
She puts her phone in her jeans pockets, and walks out …
The incident barely has any impact on my mood or plans for the night. After all, am quite familiar with these mood swings now. Few minutes after, I go downstairs. She is reading a book.
– “Did you eat?!” I ask.
– “Yes, thank you,” She says. “Do you want me to serve you dinner?”
– “No, I will do it.”
She shifts again to her book.
I come back with a full plate of the healthy meal she has prepared for us. It’s a good one. Playing innocent, I ask “What do you want to watch?”
Still reading, she answers, outsmarting me: “Nothing, you could watch the game as you wish, no worries.”
– “This is very good food, thanks.”
– “Happy you liked it; I think I should have added a little more spices, though.”
– “No, it is just perfect.”
– “Listen, it’s too early, and you’re probably so bored with the daily routine and all, why don’t you go out with some friends for a couple of hours?!”
– “Good idea, thanks for the suggestion. But what friends are you talking about here?” She throws the question out, still looking in her book.
She hasn’t flipped the page for more than 10 minutes. She is usually a fast reader.
– “What do you mean what friends; you have a lot of friends.”
– “Like who exactly?”
– “I don’t know.. you know lots of people”
– “These are colleagues and acquaintances, dear, not friends. None of them will want to spare a couple of hours in the middle of the week when they need to wake up early tomorrow morning for school and work. “
– “C’mon, don’t be so dull, we have so many friends!”
At last, she lifts her head to look at me, puts on her teacher cap and explains:
– “Yes! We! We have couple friends whom we spend weekends with for kids to get together, but I haven’t had any personal friends in quite a long time. Not people who will want to spend time with me when am bored or when I want to have an intellectually stimulating conversation, that is not about children or work or -of course- moaning and whining about husbands and daily chores. And am not dull by the way.”
My eyes already traveled to the game taking place on TV in the middle of the lecture. I know where this is going, so I try to lighten up the conversation a little.
– “Take it easy on yourself. Your Facebook page is full of friends. You have more friends than I do and am not all too dramatic about it!”
– “First of all, am not dramatic, you are the one who opened up this topic, I didn’t.
“Second of all, you just said it; these are Facebook friends. How do you want me to go out with them exactly? Ride on my superfast roller coaster and travel all the distance to Egypt or the UK?! Plus, even if I can, some of them are people I haven’t seen for years, am not even sure if we will have anything to talk about when we meet up. Some way or the other and at some point in life, they have transitioned into virtual friends.
“In fact, am getting bored of Facebook. What’s the point of adding each other to our friends lists, when we only talk to one another once in a blue moon?! We are just trying endlessly to defy time, making sure people won’t forget about us, hanging on to days and times that are non-existent anymore. We are not the same and they are not too. May be it’s better for all of us to just let go. That way, maybe we could work on new real relationships! We will be able to assess who are the friends we have and who are the friends we don’t, instead of getting confused with the number of so-called friends on our Facebook page. That way too, we might enjoy a nice surprise of running into an old friend, whom we haven’t monitored their news all the time from behind a screen. Doesn’t the beauty and value of some relationships lurk in the fact that they have slipped into the past and become a memory?
“Third of all, you know am not friendship material. Obviously, something about my character intimidates people and freaks them out. They can’t take my intensity.”
– “Honey, am ok. You don’t have to keep trying to open up conversations to please me. I am going to bed shortly, after I finish this chapter. Once I stop dosing off in the middle!”
She looks back into the book. Now, what?!
I do as told, yet again. I continue to watch the game in guilt-free silence.
Few minutes after, she stands up, mutters a low “Goodnight!”, then goes out and about securing the locks of the doors, turning off extra lights, closing bathroom doors, tidying up on her way all of the kids toys that are strewn here and there, and then after the place looks bearably neat, she heads up to our bedroom.
Few hours later, I walk up.. she is lying in bed with her back to the door, searching through her memories box. It’s a small box where she keeps all her collectibles from what she considers the good old days. I can hear her sniffing, and in the very dimmed-lighted room, I could almost see her bright tears. I slowly turn around and leave her alone.
This post is inspired by two blogs (links below), which I came across yesterday as part of the zerotohero wordpress challenge.
It’s also prompted by the WordPress DPChallenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gonzo-writing-challenge/#more-66545