It's getting late. Too late. Has she changed her mind? Nothing all month. No contact. No tickets, no cards, no meetings even. Nothing. So it was all a joke. Why? What for? And now, so close to the end, did she just give up? Does she feel guilty because of Angie? Because of Alice? That could be it. Everything's different when a child is involved. But why does that drawer haunt? Why does the image of those old tickets lying there pop into mind so frequently? What happened to forgetting? After April it'll all be over. Just get through until then. Why not throw out the tickets and card and prospectus now? Why not? Wouldn't it stop the staring at that drawer? Go on. That's it. Stand up, move forward.
"Oh, do you really have to wear those jeans?" No, no, back up. Pretend to make tea. Or start the dinner. Anything. Just get away from that drawer. "If you won't throw them out, at least don't wear them when we're having people over." That's right. That's why dinner has to be prepared. Why you're in the kitchen in the first place. It wasn't to check if any post was left on the table. You got distracted from the nagging she started as soon as you entered the house. The nagging that will continue all night, as usual, until Janice and Henry arrive. Let's face it, it'll continue even then, just more politely.
"I'll change after I cook. Didn't want to ruin any other clothes." It used to be really hard to come up with replies. But having a woman watch and question your every move makes you more aware of it yourself and find excuses more readily. It's all about learning to manage the situation. Find something that will keep her happy, even if it's not the exact truth. Who knows why these jeans. No one was thinking while that happened. It's just what happened. Why do girls have to consider everything over and worry about the consequences and reasons for every single, tiny, inconsequential action? No point in worrying about that, either. Just manage the situation as it is and try to keep all parties happy. As happy as possible. Even if it never seems all that happy. At least Angie seems satisfied with this answer. No comments or sniffs as a reply.
Why do people want to live with each other? It's hard enough with friends, but the last arrangement seemed to work out fine. Boys and girls should not live with each other. They're just too different. And the girls take over. The boy disappears. Nothing is his anymore. This house looks nothing like the good old days. Changed surroundings without even moving. More work, though. Cleaning and painting and chucking out every last piece of the old home to create whatever this is today. At least Angie seems pleased with it. For now. God knows she'll find something else to change next week. Or the week after, anyway. Once the christening is done with. All attention is on that right now. No space to think of anything else.
"You're chopping them too big." Of course. "And why have you put the carrots on to boil so soon? The pie isn't even ready to go in the oven." And what else? "Oh, Jacob! You didn't take the meat out of the freezer this morning like I told you to!" There it is. Another fault. One that Angie could have fixed herself with all the hours at home, but set up for yet another failure. "How am I going to make a pie in time for them arriving now?" You? You could have made whatever you wanted. It's not you making dinner right now. "Oh, Alice. What'll we do with your father?" No. Do not bring her into this. See, she doesn't like it either. "Oh, I know, daddy ruined everything and made you upset." It's not daddy making the baby cry. Daddy's just minding his own business.
"Was there any post this morning?" Yes. Change the subject.
"Post? I don't remember. I've been taking care of Alice all day. Washing her, changing her, feeding her, burping her, loving her." And working all day isn't caring for and loving her? "What were you doing all day? Sitting on your bum pretending to work?" Sure. If that's what you say. "Come on Alice, let's get away from Daddy and go play. Hmm? That's what he thinks we do all day. It's just easy for mummy and Alice. No crying, like this, just sleeping and playing, that's what Daddy thinks happens at home while he's out." Yes, because Daddy's never allowed to be left at home alone with Alice. Alice and her grandparents, maybe. Alice and her aunts. That's how it goes. Oh, except once. And that one time Alice and Daddy were home alone together, what happened? Nothing. Until mummy came home early and slammed the door, waking up the baby who had just fallen asleep on Daddy's chest while listening to the Beatles. Mummy doesn't count the two weeks she was in hospital recovering. Daddy didn't have to work out how to do everything all by himself in that time at all, oh no.
Oh, and there Angie goes. Trying to sing a lullaby when she can't even sing a single note in tune. Possibly the most annoying thing about the woman. Or is it how she always forgets the lyrics to classic songs but insists on making up her own idiotic ones anyway. Or how about the fact that she complains every time she's corrected and goes off in a huff at the smallest criticism. Even when it's not a criticism. But of course it's crazy if any harsh comment she makes is taken 'the wrong way'. As if there's a right way to take them. Keep chopping. Nice and small.