You walk the long route home from work again. Past the park, over the bridge and down to the short parade of shops. Slow to a stop when you reach the music retailers on the corner. Catch your breath, amazed it’s still in the window, the acoustic guitar you’ve had your eye on for over a month. You tried it out last week. Six hundred and ninety‑nine quid isn’t a lot, not when you consider it’s a limited edition and the next one in the series is over a grand.
Hands in pockets, you walk on.
She said if you bought another guitar she’d leave.
“Nine guitars are enough. You can only play one at a time.”
“Yeah, but ten makes it a nice round number.”
She wasn’t impressed.
You call her name when you get home. Make your way to the bathroom. Turn on the shower, strip off your clothes and step into the perfect temperature. You smile when she joins you. It’s a ritual you look forward to every working day.
You pull her under the spray. Tongues clash as you press her up against the tiles. Your hands are slick with soap and they glide over her smooth skin as you lift her up. She squeezes your arse and you bury yourself inside her. Careful not to lose your grip, you push against her just enough. She moans languidly, then ramps up the need, digging her nails into your back when she comes. You follow soon after and groan into her wet hair, breathing in the spicy fragrance of the shower gel.
Later, you eat dinner and talk about her day. Your day.
“I tried out that guitar,” you say nonchalantly, though you’re heating up inside because you want that guitar.
She shakes her head. “No. We can’t afford it.” She has that look and you know she’s right.
You loved the house too.
But one guitar won’t make that much of a dent. Would she really leave you over a guitar? Are you man enough to put her love to the test? Maybe you will. Perhaps tomorrow.
A week later you’re still pining. And when you reach the shop, the guitar isn’t in the window. Damn. Have you missed the boat? You could possibly get it over the internet, but she might find out.
Maybe the shop could get hold of another one for you.
Hands in pockets, you walk in.
You’re home and she’s not there. You call, but you know the flat is empty because it lacks the usual ambience. An indefinable perception. Something missing. The atmosphere doesn’t have the right vibe, as if it’s waiting for her presence to give it meaning. Or perhaps it’s about your imperfections. A subconscious knowing that she is nobler, worthier. That you don’t deserve her.
A few times now you’ve got home from work and she hasn’t been there. And when you enquire she says work is really busy.
You’re rummaging in the fridge when she gets home. She’s brought a Chinese takeaway and you smile, though you’re curious as to why work is taking up so much of her time lately.
In bed, she holds your gaze. Eyes dark. Smile replete. “I’m sorry I was late home,” she says.
You stroke her hair. Kiss her mouth. “It’s okay.”
But you don’t agree that nine guitars are enough.
It’s your time. The one day of the year when you’re allowed to spoil yourself without the guilt trip. And it’s fallen on the weekend. You can hear her bustling about and you smile, knowing she’s cooking up something special. Pancakes? You can already taste them.
But you’ve woken up with only one thing on your mind and you hope she hasn’t set the table for breakfast yet. You pull on your shorts and sprint from the bedroom, eager not to be too eager. But you can’t help yourself. You’re eager for her.
In the kitchen, she’s placing mugs and plates on the table, but your attention is drawn to the chair where you sit. She turns. Smiles. Hugs you.
“Happy Birthday, darling. I got the one in the window, the limited edition. It is the right one, isn’t it?” she says, peering up at you.
Your arms tighten around her and you rein in a breath. “But I thought we couldn’t afford it.”
She nibbles your ear. “Why do you think I’ve been working so hard?”
You kiss her and wonder if it’s too late to stop the order.
Copyright (2018) M J Christie
First Published in Lit Up: The Land of Little Tales