Mark always lost the plot.
“I have to admit,” Martha said on their way out of the cinema, “I never guessed he was her brother.”
“He was?” Mark asked.
“Of course he was,” Martha explained. “Otherwise killing him at the end makes no sense.”
“He died?” Mark said, suddenly appalled.
“I love Novembers,” Martha said. “I can put on a woolly hat and pretend I’m in a movie. One with crunchy leaves and piano music.”
“Ah,” Mark said, “you mean like an earlyish Woody Allen, before the whole weird step-daughter thing.”
“Why,” she screamed, “do you have to spoil everything?”
Martha had sent Mark round to have a quiet word with a neighbor about a noisy late night party. But things had got a little out of hand and Mark had ended up shouting at their neighbor.
“I can’t believe you sometimes,” Martha said. “Didn’t I specifically ask you not to shout at him?”
“I didn’t,” Mark lied. “I never even raised my voice. It was a civilized chat.”
“Look,” she said, “I know you did. I can just tell. Just by looking at you.”
Which was completely unfair.
Because Mark could so easily have not shouted at his neighbor. Easily.
Martha and Mark are watching the tv news together. The anchorman asks the reporter to explain the relationship between the product cost and the price that’s charged to customers. ‘Exactly,’ the reporter responds before going on.
‘Don’t just say exactly!’ Martha shouts at the tv. ‘How can you say exactly in response to that? That was a question, you idiot! Answer the question why don’t you? Oh I despair of the standard of journalism these days….’
Where, Mark wonders, sipping his tea quietly, does she find the energy or the inclination to have so many opinions on so many things?
Martha seems angry about everything these days. The only things she likes, as far as Mark can see, are the posts of strangers on Tumblr, which she spends hours scrolling through each day. Is there a way, Mark wonders, for them to reblog the funny, warm start of their relationship?
Mark is in the dog house again. He comes home from work late one evening, makes himself a tea and sits down for a chat with Martha.
‘You’ve not even noticed have you?’ Martha asks.
‘What?’ Mark asks, looking around anxiously.
‘Unbelievable. Completely unbelievable. I sometimes wonder why I bother.’
Mark thinks quickly: his very survival depends upon his response in the next few seconds. ‘Your hair?’ he ventures. ‘Your hair looks lovely. Really…’
‘The curtains, Mark. The new curtains. How can you seriously not notice the completely different curtains?’
Quite easily, Mark wants to say. But instead he slurps his tea and tries a winning smile. But it’s not that winning apparently.
When Martha and Mark are happy, their stories of how they first met are all in bright, melodic B flat major. When they’re miserable, the same material seems to modulate to G sharp minor, all chromatic and tortured. Funny how the same tune can sound so different according to mood.