Wednesday, 23 October 2019
The Best Policy
“What if Groundhog Day actually happened to someone; but it repeated the best day of their life? How long would it take for the person to go on a homicidal rampage?” Iain asked, excited with his new concept.
“I don’t care. You haven’t been listening to me!” There was a depression orbiting Sam like a black hole ready to suck in any unwary souls that ventured too close to her morbidly obese frame; luckily few people did. Iain was immune for two reasons: he was built like a balding railway sleeper and moved for no one, he’d been married (or chained) to her for five years (he hadn’t actually taken any notice of her for at least four of those). “You never listen to me. You’re always stuck in this.. fantasy world and it’s me that has to suffer.”
“Suffer? What do you know about suffering?” Iain was still incredulous at what Sam came out with. After all these years he could still be surprised by the crap she spouted. Sometimes he wondered whether she actually believed any of it or said it to provoke a reaction. Normally he wouldn’t take any notice but he’d been taken off guard. Five years of marriage and each day was like sandpaper on his soul. Why did he put up with it? Was living in misery better than living on his own?
“Do you know what it’s like living with you?” Sam replied almost pleaded for an answer.
“Just as delightful as it is to live with you, my sweet…”
“What can’t you just listen to me? Why do you keep giving me the smart arse answers which never actually tell me anything? Why can’t you just be honest with me?”
“So you want me to be honest with you… is that it?”
“Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure? This will be a complete no-holes barred ‘nothing-but-the-truth’ session.”
“Yes! But on both sides.” Sam replied, surprising Iain. What did she possibly have to complain about?
“Ok. Do you want to go first or shall I?” He sneered, hoping to put her off her stride. This could actually be fun, and if nothing else it could make the basis for a great short story!
“No – you go first.” She calmly replied, surprising him further. Iain thought she’d be itching to moan at him. He breathed in and then suddenly realised that there was little he actually had to complain about. Despite their differences Sam had actually looked after him all those years… but Iain couldn’t just concede that she was right… he had to get creative.
“Well…” He replied. “You did ask for it… Well, the obvious elephant in the room is your weight, love. You always were a large girl but then so was I… I’ve managed to lose some pounds but miraculously they’ve managed to affix themselves to your portly frame. People often pass us in the street and I can see their stares. The silent accusations are not at you, as they obviously feel you can’t help it; but at me as if I’m some kind of monstrous feeder! I’m not asking much, love, but what happened to the girl I married, eh?” Sam choked back the tears but just nodded for him to continue.
“Point the second: why are you so damned miserable these days? Miserable and cranky… insufferable, actually. I like to think I’ve got a laid back personality and feel that I can deal with practically anything but even I’m getting worn down with it all.
“Point the third: When was the last time we actually had sex? I’ll be honest, I’m actually afraid to try. I doubt I’d be able to find your fanny in amongst the piles of flesh... no doubt I could invent a new game of finding a crevice I could hump and it would surely be better than getting squashed if you were on top! I suppose there’s always anal but, God help me, if you ever broke wind, lass, I’d be propelled against the far wall through the sheer concussive force!
“Point the fourth: you never take an interest in any of my stories. Is it too much to ask? Especially after how much I’ve contributed to this wonderful house and our lifestyle! I don’t ask for much: enquire after my stories; you don’t even have to like them or mean it. Feign an interest once in a while.”
Sam looked at him inquisitively, waiting for him to continue but he couldn’t come up with anything else. “Is that it? Are you finished?” Sam replied, drying her eyes. “Are you sure?” Iain meekly nodded –maybe this was a mistake. “Right.. My turn.
“Let’s take a look at that ‘elephant in the room’ as you so succinctly put it. Yes, I’m fat; morbidly obese in fact, and for years I’ve laid the blame firmly on your doorstep; vilified myself against your ideal, tried to be noticed and beaten myself up when it’s obvious you don’t give a damn.” Iain was about to interrupt but Sam just put her hand up to stop him. “No, please don’t. I didn’t interrupt you when you tore me apart; the least you could do is show me the same courtesy. ‘It’s the least you can do’ actually sums up what you actually bring to the table to our relationship. I’ve tried taking more than the lions share for the blame, the failing of this mockery of a relationship; blamed myself for you not taking an interest in me –which would then fuel another bout of comfort eating. You can see the vicious circle here, and it’s one of my own devising. I can see that now. I should have realised that you’re not actually worth it; I shouldn’t have blamed you for that and I’m sorry. But I’ll tell you this for free: I’m going to change – I’ve found the impetus. It’s just a shame that you’re not going to benefit from it.”
“What pet?” Iain replied. This certainly wasn’t going as planned.
“No interruptions, Iain, please.” Iain sighed and Sam continued. “You mentioned sex and I have to say that I’ve never been so relieved that my body turned you off so much. You probably see yourself as a sensitive lover… well, let me relieve you of that particular illusion. I’ve seen more sensitivity from a rutting warthog. And when you criticise my bountiful frame as a reason for not ‘finding my fanny’ you must also take into account your microscopic cock. I think you’d have a hard time giving a pre-pubescent gerbil a good time with that…
“You also mentioned feigning an interest in your ‘writings’.. and here we come to the real nub; the real rub, as it were. You wrote one novel that became a best seller ten years ago, and it was wonderful. Truly; and this is no faint praise. It was the reason I sought you out after all. But that was ten years ago…
“Since then you’ve certainly been prolific, churning out short stories, novels, poems, plays.. even greeting card rhymes, for Christ’s sake… but none of them.. NONE of them were in the least bit successful. No one wants to know. You’ve been relegated to the ‘one-hit-wonder’ category; an obscure ‘whatever happened to..’. The only money you’ve had coming in has been the occasional royalty cheque when they reprint your one ‘blockbuster’.”
“You’re kidding? Seriously?!” Iain was stunned. “But how have we managed to survive all these years? Why haven’t I been made aware of this?”
“Made aware? Since when have you been aware of anything.. or anyone, for that matter? The reason why your first novel was so acclaimed was that it struck a chord with people who could empathise with you. Now all you seem to do is retreat into your own little world (which is so far removed from how things really are, it’s obscene.)”
“I had no idea.”
“No, and what’s more you never cared. As long you were happy and your needs were catered for you were more than content to live in your fantasy world. Well… that’s as much my fault as it is yours. I should have told you this much earlier when the first dozen rejection letters came in… but, damn it, I cared for you too much back then.”
“Sam…I..” Iain replied, unable to take it all in.
“Don’t worry, that’s all since past and I bitterly regret that now. It became harder and harder to keep the lie alive. The longer it dragged on the more complicit I became, so I had to work harder and harder on it… and it started to take a toll on me. This is the result of it…. But, thankfully, you’ve now set me free. I can now finally see the truth.”
“What are you saying?”
“I can no longer live in the farcical situation with you. You are a failure, Iain, perhaps in every way… and I’ve allowed it to happen. For that I am sorry, but no longer. I’m leaving you, Iain. I’ve had enough and I’m going to file for a divorce. This may seem sudden but I’ve actually been thinking about it for a long time wondering just how the hell I could justify it. I never thought I had the strength, but now I can see that I’m far stronger than I ever realised. I don’t need you and I never did. I might have loved you once but that is long since passed. I’m going now, I’ve got money enough to keep me solvent for a few days and I’ll probably stay in a hotel somewhere or with my mother..”
With that Sam got up out of the chair that had been supporting her for years and went into the bedroom to pick up some clothes to tide her over in the hotel. She then returned wearing a smile that Iain hadn’t seen for many, many months. “I’ll be back to pick up the rest of my things in a couple of days…. Cheer up, Iain –in many ways you’ve got exactly what you wanted… me off your back… for good.”
The door shut neatly behind her leaving Iain confused and shaken. What had started out as a way to vent his frustrations had seriously back-fired. The worst of it all was, deep inside, he knew that everything Sam had said was completely true. Still… there was one consolation out of it all – it would all make a brilliant short story!