Mark offered to pick Martha up from the office.
‘I’ll be there at six,’ Mark confidently predicted.
But he put the wrong postcode into his satnav and turned up twenty minutes late.
‘You are a complete waste of both space and time,’ Martha ranted at him when he finally arrived.
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.
Martha’s excited to attend her first strategic meeting. Finally, I’ve arrived, she thinks. But towards the end she notices her mentor, wearied by an extended health and safety discussion, closing her eyes and placing her forehead gently on the table. Yup, Martha realizes, that’ll be me in a few years.
Whenever Martha is angry with Mark she tends to tidy up with attitude, aggressively dusting and wiping her way around him. Mark remains on guard: it’s only a matter of time, he reckons, before she tries scooping him up into a bin liner and then bunging him in the recycling.