Life, love and a missing lottery ticket.
|“Are you lying?” she asked, ignoring the water leaking over the top of the washing up bowl.
“Why would I make something like that up?”
She wrenched the tap to off, perfect brows arced in disbelief. “Why would you DO something like that?”
He tried for a disarmingly apologetic shrug and remained silent. Pale, a bit sickly looking and absolutely silent. She was exhausted too and it had been a while since either of them had had the energy for a decent fight.
“Course you’re lying. You can’t be telling the truth. That would be ... Well, I mean ... Nobody, NOBODY, not even you, wins the lottery rollover worth £37.6 million pounds and then ACCIDENTALLY GIVES THE TICKET AWAY TO A TRAMP!”
The instinct for self-preservation kicked in and he opened his mouth to explain the situation more clearly, She’d only taken a short breath though and his moment passed. His girlfriend – eight months pregnant, two months unemployed and variously described by her father as ‘feisty’ and by his mother, herself a mistress of understatement, as 'undeniably headstrong’ – carried on ranting.
“What were you doing? Eh? Did you think ‘well, we’ve got an overdraft of nearly a grand, a credit card bill of ... quite a lot more, a baby arriving any time now and a joint income of ... ooh ... three hundred and fifty a week, but hey! Nothing to worry about. I’ll give this £39 million away to this lazy bastard here so he can feed his heroin habit in peace.’"
“It wasn’t ...”
“What was it then? You’ve got another girl. Haven’t you? That bird in the Lucky Pig the other night, she was giving you the glad eye and I SAW you looking at her bum. I bet you thought ‘I’ve got £42 million, I can run away to Hawaii with her and leave the missis in that shithole with a screaming brat and she’ll never know the difference.’”
Despite his growing headache, he was mesmerised. Dark blonde hair coiled about her dinky little ears, her round cheeks were pink with rage, and her burgeoning cleavage heaved with exertion. It had been so long since she’d been so aroused by anything. He sighed. She might have a mouth on her like the Channel Tunnel but she wasn’t half ...
“You’re not even bloody well listening are you? Just gawping like the complete moron you are.” She turned back to the sink and scrubbed furiously. “For God’s sake, I don’t know why I bother, I really don’t.”
She slammed the vase of dying daffodils he’d bought her a week ago down on the drainer, leaving him touched by her restraint. As the star player in the county women’s darts team she had quite an aim. Eight months ago, she’d thrown the matching pair at him during another argument and missed his head by millimetres. She still joked now that they should follow the celebrity trend of naming a baby after the place of conception, setting up his standard reply that “Dirty Kitchen Floor” was a big moniker to live up to.
Perhaps that memory had occurred to her to. Deflecting her fury into industry she set to scrubbing at the lasagne dish from two nights ago. “I’ll do it,” she’d told him every time he’d volunteered. “I’m sat home doing nothing and you’re out all hours. This is my job. Sit down.”
Her unanswerable pride aside, he knew she’d been avoiding it because the sickly smell of congealed Parmesan was too much for her these days. And he was right. With the weight of disgust on top of the baby’s heft, she couldn’t sustain her indignation.
He watched her morph from simmering siren to five-year-old-needing-a-cuddle in the space of milliseconds and drew her towards him, kissing the top of her head as he took the pan from her. The baby, less easily won-over, made a decent attempt at kicking him in the ribs.
“Oww. He’s definitely on your side. Guess I’ll have to be more careful.” He reached for the waggling foot.
Not quite ready to let him off the hook she only let it rest a second. Stepping sideways to take paracetamol from the cupboard, she handed it to him with a glass of water and no eye contact. He took it gravely. If she started giggling that would be that and he was enjoying himself.
But, as always when she had his attention, she knew what to do with it. Leaning back against the counter she said quietly “You could have stopped working fourteen hour shifts and you might look healthy for a change. We could have had a proper house and a garden, new furniture for the baby, not that second hand crap your sister’s best friend’s mother gave us. It would have meant a whole new life.” She looked up at last, the hint of laughter giving way to tears.
He had to look down. “The bloke was bleeding. Some little twat had just kicked him the face. I only meant to give him a tissue.”
“Well, at least he’ll be able to afford a decent lawyer. You soft git.” She finally allowed him an affectionate grin. Her tragic demeanour had always been his personal Parmesan so he made a more determined effort to set the record straight before her smile faded.
“About that. You know that argument we had last week, when you agreed that you should let me finish a sentence and not jump to any conclusions?”
She gave a guarded nod, suspicion back in her eyes.
“If you remember, what I actually said when I came in was ‘You’ll never guess what I just did, I realised I’d won some money on the lottery and then I accidentally gave the ticket away to that bloke that plays the banjo outside the underground’?”
She nodded again.
“Well, I never said it was THE winning ticket. I checked at the newsagents on the way home. I only had four numbers.“ He relished the savage look she gave him. “It was worth twelve pounds thirty seven.”
She stamped her considerable weight down on his metal toe-cap, denting it enough to make him wince, and stalked out. He gave her a moment and followed her up the stairs.