Writing Exercises


So Close Yet So Distant

Grace Marshall - Friday, June 02, 2017

Renee finished folding the last shirt from the dryer before she carried the now full basket to the bedroom. She set it down on the floor before pulling her own clothes, that she'd purposely set on top, out and putting them away. She left her husband's clothes in the basket and moved into the kitchen to focus her attention on dinner. She wondered if he'd be home on time tonight.

Mark hit the door running. "Honey, I'm home!" he yelled as he pulled his tie on the way to the bedroom. He'd just gotten off work and had a challenging racquet ball game to get to. Hanging the tie on a hook he stripped off his shirt and pants, wadding them up before tossing them into the corner where Renee usually had a laundry basket.

"Welcome home," Renee responded as her husband moved past. The meatloaf she'd put into the oven was only halfway done but she didn't see why it'd be a problem. She brushed a strand of blonde hair from her face before pulling some plates out of the cupboard as she called toward the bedroom, "Meatloaf still has a while to cook!"

"Uh yeah, honey I'm going to miss dinner. I'm playing racquet ball with the director, it'll be evening before I'm home. Jenelle's pretty competitive."

Renee sighed and put one of the plates back. "Are you going to eat something before you go at least?"

"Nope, I'll grab something on the way." Mark finished pulling on some sweatpants and and his favorite sports shirt. "Can you check that my work clothes for tomorrow are clean, sweetheart? Thanks, see you tonight." Mark grabbed his racket and headed for the door, the upcoming match on his mind.

"They already are," Renee responded, moving in front of her husband's determined path. "Uh, honey? Excuse me, but you could have called you know. What am I supposed to do?" Maybe she should just let it go but she'd spent the morning at work then came home and laundered clothes, cleaned the house, and figured out dinner.

Mark came up short. "I tried to call sweetheart, you didn't answer." He glanced at his watch. He had to get on the road or he was going to be late. Mark frowned. "Don't you have a new season of that show you like?"

Renee was annoyed at Mark's apparent unconcern for her or her time already, his disregard for how she spent her evening, the way he was acting like he was in a busy hurry and his time was important whereas hers wasn't, was grating on her. Because all she did with her time was watch television? Was that what he was implying? "Oh, I'm sure I'll find something to do," she snapped. "Not that you'll care, you'll be too busy playing with your BOSS."

Mark heaved a strained sigh. Why did she have to be this way? She acted like he was running off to get some drinks with 'the boys' when she should know very well that advancing in his career depended on social interaction with those who could put in a good word for him. And it irked him. "Renee don't be like that, we talked about this before I started this job remember? We knew it would require lots of overtime on my part for a few years and you agreed it would be worth it, babe," he pointed out patiently. Even as he said it, a little voice deep inside observed that he'd been running out on his wife like this for months and he felt a twinge of guilt which irked him further. Mark hated second guessing himself and it made him annoyed that Renee was bringing this up. She was supposed to be supporting him! Did she think he liked kissing up to the bosses like a dog hoping for a bone?

"Yes, overtime. Overtime at the office. Overtime you would tell me about. But that's not what this is. This is all your time. You're at work or you're spending your free time with coworkers. I never know when you'll be home and pretty much my time with you is just sleeping. What's the point of advancing your career, making lots of money, if you never do anything but work anyway? Your job is becoming your family and squeezing your real one out." Renee took a few steps back from Mark and pulled to the side. She wouldn't stop him from leaving, she'd just wanted to be heard. When they got married she didn't realize she'd be spending more afternoons alone than she did when she was single. What would it be like when they had kids? Would she raise them alone? And did he not see the things she did, the cleaning, the cooking, shopping, organizing, it was for him, because she loved him and was trying to show her support in areas he was too busy to take care of?

Mark gritted his teeth trying to hold back his irritation. Glancing at his watch's accusatory minute hand didn't help but he took a few deep breaths. He didn't want this to turn into a yelling match. "Look Renee, maybe you have a point, but I can't just change this right now. I'll cut this evening short and be home around seven, can we talk about this then?"

Renee shrugged, maybe she had a point? "I suppose we can, doesn't sound like I have much say in the matter anyway." She ran a hand through her hair, her fingers sifting it in slight frustration. "Just make sure you grab yourself something to eat." And with that she turned away, either he'd be home by seven or he wouldn't, but they would, at some point, talk things over.

Mark grimaced as he watched his wife walk away. His thoughts were tied up with thinking over the confrontation as he slid behind the wheel of his car. He frowned as his memory replayed his wife's slender frame turning away at the end. When had they quit kissing goodbye? The thought troubled him. Up until this moment he thought he and Renee had one of those rare strong marriages. Could he have misjudged things? No. But he certainly was capable of getting so tied up with work and life that he didn't pay close enough attention to his wife he realized. His jaw clenched. He did love his wife, and even though he had originally planned to come home and point out how unfair she was being, obviously there was something he was missing. Renee was a smart, strong woman. If she was this upset then perhaps he'd really messed up. Well the racquet ball match was going to suck, but he was going to be home to keep his promise to his wife, and maybe they could get this worked out.


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