This short is a continuation of SHE-POWER Fiction: Dinner Time Blues
“You were such an ass tonight.” Clarissa couldn’t help herself. She swore she’d wait until they got home, but sitting here in the taxi she felt like a fire was roaring inside her, smashing at the windows, desperate to come out.
There was no answer. Scott had his head back against the headrest; his face was slack, the overlong blond fringe stuck to one cheek, and a slight whistling rattled in time with his breathing. She could almost see his pink tongue lolling around near his lips with a fine trail of dribble threatening to roll down his chin. He looked so pathetic she was tempted to reach across and slap him.
Instead she wrapped her arms across her chest and tried not to think about what had become of her once handsome husband. These days when Clarissa looked at Scott all she saw was the curl of his lips, the permanently furrowed brow and mean glint in his once shining sea blue eyes.
She found it near impossible to remember the charming, intelligent man she’d met ten years ago. The wealthy son of a heroic General. The political science student who was going to set the international political arena alight. What had happened to that man? She had loved him so. Been in awe of him, of his drive and strong convictions. How did he become another spineless public servant, more concerned with pushing papers and covering his own behind than helping anybody?
Depression and an overwhelming sense of disappointment settled in Clarissa’s chest. Is this what her life had come to? Escorting her drunk and flirtatious husband home at two in the morning, knowing full well he had barely registered her existence tonight, and wouldn’t even notice when she went to sleep in the spare room to avoid his snoring. Tomorrow, if he followed his usual routine, he’d sleep late, read the newspaper, then spend the afternoon playing golf before coming home and getting dolled up to go out again. Their whole lives were one pointless social event after another.
Clarissa stared out the window as the cab quietly travelled through Sydney’s northern suburbs, the leafy privileged enclaves of her childhood. She could close her eyes and probably describe every single house, shop, and landmark from here to their house in Balmain. Predictable. All so bloody predictable.
“Okay, if we take the bridge? The cab driver broke through Clarissa’s melancholy.
“Yes, that’s fine. Thank you.”
She noticed the man kept a small plastic frame of two children stuck to his dashboard. A toothy girl grinned and posed for the camera, one hand on an exaggerated hip, and a shy looking toddler, a boy she guessed, was half hiding behind his extroverted sister’s skirt.
“Are they your kids?” Clarissa asked, tryign to keep the wistfulness out of her voice. “How old are they?”
The man changed the position of his rear vision mirror so he could see Clarissa’s face. His bald head seemed to shine in the moon light, while his fleshy lips spread in a wide frog-like grin.
“This is my Lita and my Daniel. She is eight next week and he is three.” He beamed with pride and raised a finger to his lips before using it to transfer a kiss to the picture. “You got kids?”
“No.” Clarissa shook her head and turned to stare out her window. “Maybe one day.”
“Don’t leave it too late,” the man warned, making the same assumption everyone else did.
Clarissa nodded, pretending like she was listening to him. Why did everyone assume a childless woman in her thirties had chosen to be this way? Clarissa didn’t like to share her and Scott’s failures with the world, and for that she seemed destined to be pegged as the hard hitting career woman, too selfish to procreate. If only they knew.
Clarissa cast her eyes over Scott’s slack figure. She knew he blamed her of course. It had never been said, but they both knew. She tried to tell herself that they were still young, and there was nothing physically wrong . It could happen any time. But in her heart she didn’t think it ever would. Maybe her and Scott weren’t cut out to be parents. God knows they could barely function as a couple, let alone as parents.
Clarissa heard a groan come from the other side of the back seat. Scott stirred, but seemed to find his head too heavy. “Shit, I feel awful.” He rested his head against the cool glass. “We home yet?”
“We’re on the freeway and about to go over the Harbour Bridge.”
He shifted his legs awkwardly and turned bloodshot eyes on her.
She held his eyes and a long moment stretched between them. His expression was unreadable. She wished he’d say something, at least try to make things better.
“Do you have anything you’d like to say to me?”
He yawned and rubbed his cheekbones. “Like what?”
“Never mind.” Clarissa turned away and moved closer to the window. How she hated him at this moment.
“So, what was the big news you had to tell me? Let me guess, Lex is retiring and you, as resident workaholic, is in line to be his replacement.” The sarcasm was thick and there was an edge of malice in Scott’s voice that Clarissa didn’t have the energy to deal with tonight.
She decided to ignore his baiting. “You remember we’re having a barbeque tomorrow night for Ashley’s birthday.”
“Fantastic, just what I need. An afternoon spent with the one woman in the world who hates me.”
“I wouldn’t say she’s the only woman,” Clarissa snapped.
“Listen to you Miss Snippy. Come on. Tell me. what I’ve done wrong now.”
“I don’t want to argue,” Clarissa said, hating the way he always made her feel so petty. “And you know why I’m upset.”
Scott groaned. “Oh the jealousy and the drama. Seriously, what did I do? Chat a bit much to a pretty lady? Well, excuse me.”
“People will start arriving about 4pm so make sure you’re there, okay?”
“That’s a subtle way to change the subject, isn’t it?”
She gave him a pained look, and he threw his hands up.
“Fine. I’ll be there.” He was silent for a moment. “Do you need me to pick anything up tomorrow?”
Clarissa looked at him with surprise. She seriously couldn’t figure Scott out. He could be considerate one minute, then a jerk the next.”You could pick up the beer on your way home from the golf course.”
He shrugged. “Maybe I’ll stay home tomorrow and give you a hand.”
“Really?” Clarissa was skeptical.
They sat staring at each other for a moment before Scott reached across and entwined his fingers through hers. “I love you.”
What could she say to that? She leaned over to snuggle against him, her head resting against his heart, her fingers kneading into his shirt. She closed her eyes and wished it could be like this all the time.
“I love you too,” she murmured.
This story continues with Mama’s Girls
Photo by normanack