The debate of whether to take a three minute stroll to buy milk or not was won by the argument of heavy rain patter on the window. ‘Black coffee will do just fine, thank you’ James muttered to himself as he turned up the volume slightly on his CD player to drown out the rain. He thought of himself as a child and how the rain didn’t bother him and of how he would have preferred to be out in the rain, shivering and playing than indoors doing nothing.
Most of James’ time was spent indoors now though. Not that he was unemployed or lazy or agoraphobic, but that his work didn’t demand of him to move a single inch from his home. He had a fortnightly article in a local literary magazine, an article which entailed a lot of subjective freedom. He was proud of his work and was content with his job and he made enough income to get by on top of his fiancé’s secretarial salary.
As the wind began to pelt the windows with rain considerably more forceful he began to worry about Sarah. She had a few minutes walk from her bus stop to their home and would probably be soaked through by the time she arrived at the door at her usual time between 6:15 and 6:25. A glance at the kitchen clock told him that he had about fifteen minutes for her arrival, so he decided to turn the central heating up to thirty degrees to make the house warm up quickly and keep her from being too upset about the weather.
James never liked the heat too much and was always more than content with just putting on a jacket or pulling a thin sheet around himself. He drank down his coffee quickly, which had become almost lukewarm since he made it, and sat down at the kitchen table listening to an old mixed CD of his, staring out at the rain, waiting for Sarah to come home.
The lock on the door was barely audible, but he heard the swift closing of the door clearly. His eyes lingered on the clock, which read 6:18, then rested on the kitchen door, waiting to greet his fiancé as she came through. He heard her footsteps go straight up the stairs, which he wasn’t surprised at, as he knew she probably needed to change out of her wet clothes, so he decided to fill up the teapot and put it on the stove to boil.
Five minutes passed until she entered the kitchen. ‘Hey gorgeous, how was work?’ he smiled through his words.
‘No drama at the firm today then? Aw well.’
‘No. Nothing.’ she replied wearily.
He laughed ‘I’ve always thought that it isn’t such a good idea for couples to work together, never mind as solicitors. Imagine the arguments!’
‘It’s all very well for you to joke James!’ she shot. ‘How about you write some of that down in your articles? Maybe you’ll sell more and get a raise and I wouldn’t have to support the both of us!’
‘What–where did this come from? I have an income, I make mon–’
‘Yes, you make some money but it’s not enough is it?’
He sat there, shocked and speechless. What could he say? The question “Enough for what?’ came to his mind but he didn’t need to voice it.
‘If you made enough to support us like I do, maybe then it would be okay for you to be eating up our heating budget, having it set to thirty degrees all day when it isn’t needed!’
He didn’t say anything in reply. The response of “It was for you” seemed rather pathetic and he thought that if he had to justify himself and say that it was only on for fifteen minutes, he would feel like a child trying to redeem itself for being “naughty”.
After watching him for half a minute waiting for a response, his fiancé gave him a sigh of disgust and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room to watch television.
James sat there for a short while feeling like a child, scolded and ashamed. He moved to the teapot and poured its dark contents down the drain.
As he made to retire for an early night, his eyes fell upon the heating control which was set to zero and he felt his face burn as he turned away to the stairs.