"That's it. I've had enough." I say, stomping into the living room after work and throwing my handbag down onto the chair so it thumps loudly to reflect my mood. "I don't want to hear the television, the radio or have anyone talk to me. I need some space; to be just me and to stop bloody thinking."
I look at Liam who's sat slouched on the sofa, headphones on, his iPad
balanced precariously on his knees.
I suddenly feel terrible. I've done it again; walked in from work like a
"Ok." He says slowly. "You have three minutes to moan. But
you only get three minutes and then you can't mention it for the rest of the
evening. Deal?" He tilts his head and raises his eyebrows without glancing
away from his football game.
"Deal." I say and sit down. My arms (which have now been given the
go-ahead) begin to wave frantically in the air as I explain how annoying it
was, how she really did say it like that, and right about when
I'm describing how unbelievable it was, he puts his hand up to
"Time's up!" He says as he smiles and kisses my forehead.
"Now leave it behind."
I sigh, because I know he's right.
"I need some quiet. I think I'm going to close my eyes, do some
meditation and then get the tea." Then because I know how
paper-thin these walls are, I ask the impossible:
"Do you think you could be silent for about twenty minutes so I can
He raises his eyebrow. "Do you think you can?!"
Taking full advantage of the fact the television isn't blaring and hoping
he'll keep his earphones in, I drag my busy mind into the bedroom
(ignoring his knowing smirk) and I shut the door behind me.
I close my eyes.
After a couple of seconds, my mind stops its chatter and rather than focussing
on six hundred things, I'm only seeing one. I become more aware of my
breathing. This is good, I think. As my shoulders begin to drop, the tension in
my back starts to let go. The day's recurring phone calls, missing letters, the
cram up in the tube so my nose was stuck against the glass... They all begin to
disappear. I can still feel the stress stuck in a few knots, but it's surely
Deep breath in. Long breath out. This is easy, I think, wiggling my bottom
into the duvet. I wonder just what all the fuss was about. Quiet my mind? Easy
Eyes firmly shut; I begin to imagine the most beautiful white light
radiating down from my ceiling. Like I'm under a spotlight. Nice and
calming. I'm drifting off into this bright abyss when an unexpected creak
interrupts my calm. A padded: thud, thud, thud. The unmistakeable
sound of a fridge door opening.
Rustle. Pause. Rustle.
There's a crescendo of electronic humming seeping through the walls. It
would be quite calming, except there's a sudden pop! that makes me jump
right out of my skin and back in again. I realise it's the toaster. I'm cross
because there's no worse a time to be jumping full pelt out of your skin than
when you're meditating.
I screw my eyes tightly shut, and try to find my focus again. But I can hear
him fumbling about for the butter. It'll be my nice, expensive Lurpak
butter. Spreadable. No clumps. Slightly salted. Oh god.
Warm, melty butter on toast.
I take another deep breath in and one long breath out. It's not
important. Focus. It's just butter. And once again I see my happy place.
But now there's a clinking noise going on in the kitchen. It sounds
suspiciously like ice cubes being popped into a glass. If there's ice cubes
going on, it can only be...
The sound of a bottle scraping the sideboard, the plastic being peeled off,
and a muffled "rrrhhhgh" before the cap is unscrewed.
Oh, he hasn't. I imagine him sloshing a hefty measure of my new
bottle of Coconut Mahiki rum into the bottom of a glass.
I've lost the six hundred stressful things floating about my head. The one, single
thing I'm focussing on is a cool coconut rum and coke with ice tinkling around
in a glass. I can see in my mind's eye a bright red straw, bubbles fizzing to
the top, the froth settling. One eye peeks open just a little.
I slide off the bed as I hear him walk back and slump on the sofa. Careful
not to make a sound I tiptoe across the room, slowly and silently push the
handle of the door down and ease it open just half an inch.
"Can I have one?" I whisper. The sudden hissy noise in the silence
shocks him, making him jump out of his skin and drop his straw on the floor.
I smile knowingly at him. And ever so quietly add;
"I've not failed completely. One eye's still shut."