"You never bought me flowers"

"And of course, you don't care."

Janice glanced up from her knitting. Tom was sitting in front of the TV, not answering her - as usual. Nearly 25 years of marriage, and this was what it came down to; evenings in front of the telly and no conversation.

"I said, that Mrs Jenkins from No 6; that cow, she's been talking about us again. That couple from No 8 wouldn't even speak to me this morning. Walked past, looked right through me, as if I wasn't there. What right has she got, eh? What's it got to do with her, anyway? I'm going to tell her. 'Leave us alone', I shall say. 'So what if our John's wife has left him. Nothing to do with you', I shall tell her."

She shook out the knitting and looked at it again. Another coat for the baby. "Don't know why I'm bothering with this. Probably never see our grandchild again. Don't know what's wrong with that Christine; leaving our John. Not like she's got any reason. Well, I know she said he slapped her, but I know our John, and if he did then she probably deserved it."

Another glance at Tom. He wasn't asleep. "I don't know why I put up with you. You never listen to me. Maybe it's for the best that Christine's left John; if he turns out anything like you, then she's probably better off without him. I do hope we get to see little Johnny though; it's not fair if we don't see our own grandchild grow up." She returned to the former subject of controversy, spitefully. "That Mrs Jenkins, she thinks she's so perfect. Her wonderful son, and wonderful daughter, and three perfect grandchildren, all doing so very nicely for themselves. Well, our John's not done so badly, considering we couldn't afford all them extra lessons she paid out for."

The needles clicked on; Janice reached the end of the row, turned the growing matinee jacket and peered at the pattern to check how many more rows she had to go. The soft blue wool was easy to work with; she much preferred knitting baby clothes to anything else. It was just a shame that so many babies were dressed in these funny modern all-in-one things; it made them all look alike, sometimes you couldn't even tell whether you were looking at a boy or girl.

Another two rows, and it would be 9.00, and she'd go and put the kettle on. She'd been putting the kettle on at 9.00 for the last 25 years; it was about time Tom went and put the kettle on. "Why don't you make us a cup of tea for once? Always leaving everything to me; washing, cooking, cleaning. If it weren't for me, you'd never eat. But do I get any thanks for it? No. Never a word of thanks. At least John knows who's looked after him all these years. He treats me as he should. He bought me flowers last week. When was the last time you bought me flowers? Don't suppose you can remember. Well, I can. Never. You've never bought me flowers. Not once in 25 years."

Viciously, Janice stabbed the ball of soft blue wool onto the end of the needles and got up. "Why couldn't you ever bring me flowers?"

She stomped away into the kitchen and banged around with the kettle, muttering to herself all the while. "Don't know what I ever saw in him. Should've listened to my mother. That Percy Thrubin; he wanted to marry me, and he ended up Area Manager, fine house and car, the lot. Don't know why I didn't listen to my mother…"

The tea made, Janice clattered cups and saucers onto the tray, and slopped milk into the cups. "Oh, I had to defy her. Knew what I was doing. Tom and me were in love - just as well she didn't know John was already on the way…" She paused to wipe a tear that suddenly rolled down her cheek. "Where did it go wrong?"

The TV continued to blare out the theme tune to yet another programme; there was still no sound from Tom. Sniffing to herself, Janice picked up the tray and carried it through to the sitting room, and set it down carefully on the polished glass-top coffee table in front of her armchair, before turning to the TV and flicking the off switch.

Such an action would normally drag a moaned response from Tom; even if he'd been asleep he would say he was 'watching that'.

But tonight, Tom didn't complain. In fact, he was grinning at her. Not that he'd been in a good mood when he got home from work. He wasn't often in a good mood these days. Demanding his meal, slumping in the chair. But he'd been grinning at her all evening, ever since he'd sat down.

Except he wasn't really grinning. It just looked like that; the red slash across his throat.

Janice frowned at him. His white shirt was soaked, dyed a slowly drying red. She'd have the devil's job to get that clean.

"Oh, Tom. Why couldn't you ever bring me flowers?"


© Carol Good - May 2000