Together, Forever

Champagne romantic beach picture

"Here's fine," spoke a commanding female voice.  I looked up from my book, slightly irritated at the interruption. The speaker was a smartly dressed woman of certain years, leading what was presumably her husband in tow.  They sat down opposite me and I moved some of my things from the table between us, exchanging polite smiles with the man who, despite being immaculately suited in tweed and Savile Row tie had a crumpled look about him that contrasted starkly with her fine, stiff lines.

The man breathed out with obvious relief and turned to the woman, “That was close! I'm glad we caught the train.  It's too chilly to be standing long on the platform."

She looked at him scornfully, ""Of course we caught the train, Henry. Didn't I keep on telling you to hurry up?"

"Yes, Maureen," he replied, "I was just saying..."

But she was no longer listening, having found something of greater interest in her handbag to attend to. He shrugged and looked out the window as the train pulled slowly out of the station, past misty green, hedge-rowed fields dotted with dopey-eyed sheep.

I was about to return to my book when a shrill ring pierced the air, causing a number of train occupants including myself to jump.  The woman took out a sleek black mobile phone from her bag and answered briskly. “Hello?”

A thin, metallic voice spoke rapidly on the phone.

“Tony, stop!” she interrupted. “I don't want to hear excuses. I need the presentation ready for Monday … What? … I see … Well look, if you want to see to your daughter's birthday party, then I will find someone else to do this, someone I can rely on … What's that? … Ok, good. I knew I could count on you.  Just buy her something nice to make up for it - you can expense it ... Good-bye.”

She clapped the phone shut and put it back in her bag, smiling with evident satisfaction. The man looked at her with raised eyebrows, but she glared coldly back at him. “One of us has to work!”

“It's not like I haven't tried,” he replied sulkily.

“Obviously not hard enough,” she harrumphed loudly, oblivious to or perhaps uncaring of the several onlookers.  “I think you enjoy the easy life too much;  David was made redundant last year and landed another top job within 3 weeks.”

He looked away, shaking his head sadly, a wealth of unspoken hurt in his eyes. “Some wedding anniversary this is turning out to be.”

She did not answer and they remained silent for the remainder of the journey.

I didn't feel like reading any more.