“I’ll do it tomorrow,” shouted Bill as he ran out of the house, late for work.
“Maybe! If you have time,” jeered Netta. “If you aren’t too busy. Or just off to the pub!”
The window had been jammed shut for three weeks and it was stuffy in the kitchen.
“If only I was strong enough to do it,” she sighed, sitting down and lighting a cigarette. She gazed moodily at the dirty floor. She ought to wash it – but her knee had been playing up recently and the mop had a broken handle.
Later she went round to her neighbour. Over a cup of coffee they grumbled about their partners. Jean was fed up with disruption from endless DIY projects in the house. “I call him Dymano Derek – he’s so exhausting!”
“Bill’s quite the opposite,” said Netta, stirring sugar into her coffee. “Never does a thing. I keep asking him to fix my kitchen window which won’t open. The air’s so stale.”
“Why don’t you fix it yourself? You’re the smoker,”
“I can’t reach it. Anyway Bill keeps saying he’ll do it. Same with the lawn. The grass is so long and he tells me he’s waiting for better weather before he cuts it.”
“Can’t you do the mowing?” asked Jean as she washed up their cups, hoping Netta would leave before she got onto the subject of her health.
“It’s man’s work – and I’ve got a bad back.” Netta finished her third biscuit and settled her bulk into the chair. “I get so tired.”
Jean cut in swiftly, “With three kids I’m exhausted but have to get on with things. Now I must go out and do the shopping.”
Netta got the message and slowly got to her feet. “Our trouble is that Bill and I are no good at doing jobs. We’re both brilliant at one thing – making excuses.”
That evening, Bill returned from work with a treat for his wife – a bottle of red wine. But supper was not ready. Netta was slumped on the kitchen sofa, watching a quiz programme on the small TV. She had not started to cook and he noticed the cigarette butts in her empty mug.
“What’s the problem, love?” His jaunty mood evaporated.
“I’ve got a rotten headache,” Netta moaned, putting a pudgy hand to her forehead.
“Perhaps it’s too much TV,” he suggested, turning it off.
“It’s because the fug in here is unbearable. The window won’t open and you never fix it,” she screeched pointing a finger at him. “I need fresh air.”
Something snapped inside Bill and he swung back the bottle. A second later there was a crack of splintering glass. The window took a direct hit and disintegrated. Clean air rushed into the room to combat the stagnation.
Netta opened her mouth but no sound came out. Bill gazed at the gaping hole with an odd smile on his face. The shards glittered on the floor like broken promises.