ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET
She cleared the plates away from the table, put them quickly into the dish-washer and sat beside him in front of the TV. It was baseball again. She hated baseball. Looking intensely somewhere through the screen, and out of the corners of her eyes, she saw that he was excited, gesticulating, and nervously swaying his leather slipper dangling from the top of his toes. In one of the numerous magazines that her girlfriend used to buy, and which looked startlingly similar not only in contents but in colour and layout - in short, those brightly-coloured and simple that are made only for housewives - she had read that a good wife had to share her husband’s interests in order to keep his love alive and not to lose him. So, from that moment on, she would watch TV every evening and try not to fall asleep since she was not at all interested in sport. To his surprise he found that they were no longer quarrelling about the choice of channels and that his wife was no longer insisting on watching those terribly naive romantic movies, which always used to bring him to despair and on which he didn’t want to comment. Something strange had happened and he was afraid of breaking the spell with a silly remark. She moved closer to him, but the commercials started at that moment and he stood up. She heard him flushed the toilet and wash his hands. Before he sat back down on the sofa, he smiled at her.
"Do you want some more beer and nuts?", she asked.
He embraced her, or rather he placed his arm on her shoulders as one might lean on a chair arm and sat engrossed in the game on the screen.
"How absurd!", thought his wife, watching in bewilderment as the players run now in one direction then in the other. No matter how hard she tried to find sense to the flying ball and the man swinging his bat, she couldn’t. She was just dropping off when somebody rang the bell. They both set up startled and looked at each other. It was impossible for anyone to be calling on them at that time.
"You stay here. I’m going to see who it is."
He stealthily approached the front door, looked through the peep-hole and turned with some surprise to his wife, who was leaning against the wall in the corridor.
"It’s a boy and a girl. They’re laughing...", he whispered.
"Ask them what they want", urged his wife.
"Who are you looking for?"
"The birthday boy... Come on, open up!", said the girl and the boy in unison.
"There’s no one here with a birthday..."
"Oh, come on. Stop kidding!"
"What’s the name of the birthday boy?" His wife pushed him aside and looked through the peep-hole herself.
"Walter... Walter Binder..." The two were still giggling and making funny faces in front of the small hole.
"Oh, that must be Mrs. Binder’s son. They live on the other side. At 62. We swapped houses half a year ago. Do you know, we..."
His wife was on her way to open the door, when he caught hold of her hands and whispered, "Don’t open! Who knows who they are".
"Ciao, ciao" - the boy and the girl called back and started to climb down the stairs noisily.
He sat down again in front of the TV, and she stood behind the curtain in the living-room and waited to see them coming out on to the street. She saw them crossing to the other side; saw them kissing for a long time before they entered the house No. 62; saw the lights of the staircase light up and then die away; saw a car parking below and the street was still once more. Then she went into the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed. The round belly of her husband was silhouetted in the door frame.
"Like a water melon in a checked shirt", she thought and smiled. She glanced for a second at their wedding photo, which stood in a silver frame on his side of the bed, then her gaze moved to the net curtain at the window and became transfixed by the monotonous geometry of the parquet floor. The image flashed through her mind of the girl and the boy laughing in front of the peep-hole and kissing for a long time before entering the building on the other side of the street. She thought that she herself had not laughed out aloud for a long time. She tried to recall when she had last been kissed by him but could not. There was only one occasion: when they were walking at dusk on the coast of Kos.
"Could you get me a beer Theresa? Please."
She stood up and went reluctantly towards the kitchen. She opened the fridge and, with the back of her hand, brushed away the tears that refused to come.
© Lucy Moschen