I’ve a suspision that I probably waffle too much on these Maggie and Gordon posts so I’m going to leave all waffling to the non story posts. I have noticed on my blog stats that there has been a decline in how many people are reading my posts which is a bit disappointing but I’m not going to let that stop me from posting as doing so is a good incentive to keep writing my book. I’m 35.000 words in now, and I’ve read somewhere that a RomCom (for that’s what I’ve decided it is) needs to have around 75,000 to 100,000 words so I’m around half way through. Of course once I’ve finished the first draft I might find that I need to chop out huge sections so maybe I’m no where near half way!

Anyway I’m rambling. If you are still one of those reading this little blog of mine, thank you so much. It’s really very much appreciated.

Maggie Thornden, where are you?

Part 12

The lasagne eaten, Maggie cleared away the empty plates and opened her notebook. They’d talked about Gordon’s day at work whilst they’d been eating and he’d given, as he usually did, a blow by blow account of the traffic situation on his route home from work. Maggie nodded and tut-tutted where appropriate but she’d heard it all before so many times that she didn’t really listen anymore.

Gordon was sitting opposite his wife so couldn’t read the full pages of writing. “You look as though you’ve been busy.” He said to his wife.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this past week. Going on my little road trip reminded me that I’m a capable, confidant woman and not just a wife and mother at everyone’s beck and call. Do you know what Gordon, for the first time in years I felt alive again. Just like the old Maggie.” She thought of Jago and Charles. “ I really enjoyed meeting and chatting with people. People who actually valued my opinion.”

“I value your opinion.” said Gordon

“I’m not talking about things like you asking me which tie you should wear with which shirt. I’m bored being at home all day. I want to get a job or at least do some volunteering. I’m not sure what though. It’s been a long time since I went to work. I don’t even know if I’m employable any more, but I need to at least try and find someone who’ll take me on.”

“Would working make you happy?” He asked.

“It would certainly make me happier.” She replied

“Are we talking full time, because if you are thinking that we need the money, then don’t, my salary is enough to live comfortably.”

“No, it’s not that, although it would be good to contribute financially and have money in my purse that I’d earned. And I’m not talking full time, more likely part time so that I can get to do other things. Don’t panic, I’m not going to totally abandon my wifely duties!”

Gordon hadn’t cottoned on that Maggie was not being serious when she made her last comment. “Good grief Maggie, I really hope that you don’t think I just see you as someone to keep house and bring me my pipe and slippers!”

“I’m joking Gordon. What I mean is that I’m quite happy to do the cleaning etcetera, but I don’t want it to be my sole reason for existing. Rather than me doing everything, it would be great to share some of the chores or do them together. Like cook for example.”

Gordon didn’t look convinced. “But I wouldn’t know where to start. I can just about boil an egg.”

“And that brings me on to another point. I want us to attend some workshops together. A cooking one would be a good start. We would learn new skills and have fun at the same time.”

“Do you know, I think that I would rather like that. So what else is on your list?”

“This house needs a bit of a make-over.”

Gordon looked around at the kitchen that hadn’t been touched since they bought the house when the children were little.

“What’s wrong with it? Everything works alright. It’s functional.”

“Exactly, it’s functional, old fashioned and boring. Now I’m not saying that we do the whole house in one go but bit by bit, starting with the living room.”

“Are we talking a lick of paint, or changing everything. Even my armchair?”

“Even you armchair. There’s plenty of time for an armchair when you are a little old man. You have to admit that It’s seen better days and needs to go.”

“Well, we’ll see about that!” He was very fond of his armchair. It may be a bit battered and threadbare but the years of sitting in it meant that the cushioning had moulded perfectly under his backside making it the most comfortable place to sit after a long day at the office. There was no way that his beloved chair was ending up in a skip!

Maggie turned a page of her notebook. “You may have noticed that I’ve been having a bit of a sort out. Did you know that there were clothes in your wardrobe that you bought when we were first married? Remember those cords with pleats and turn ups? You’ve even kept that double breasted suit with padded shoulders!”

Gordon remembered wearing it to his first job after he qualified with a pair of slip on shoes and a gaudy patterned tie. “There’s still a lot of wear left in that suit. It’ll do for another few years yet.” He said defensively.

“Gordon love, you last wore that suit to Susan’s christening and besides you’ve filled out a bit since then. It’s taking up valuable wardrobe space and has to go,along  with the rest of your clothes that have seen better days or make you look like an old codger.”

“Christ sakes Maggie, all this is a bit too much in one go. You come home, a woman that I hardly recognise by the way, and start wanting to change everything. I agree that there are some aspects of what you say that are true, and if getting a job makes you happy then I’ll go along with it. I’m not an unreasonable man but I’m also stuck in my ways and you’re asking a lot of me.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe it was too much too soon. But if she caved in now she knew that they’d end up just drifting along again in their stagnant marriage. No, she wasn’t going to let that happen and if Gordon wasn’t prepared to go along with things then what was the point in continuing.

Maggie looked across to her husband. She studied the face that she knew so well. The deep creases between his deep set blue eyes from years of constant frowning. The ears that were slightly too small for his head. The nostrils that flared when he was angry and the stray hairs that he was obsessive about removing with his annoyingly noisy nasal hair trimmer. His sandy hair was now tinged with flecks of grey and had receded at the temples. The hair that had been cut in the same style by the same barber for as long as she could remember. People thought he looked pompous. He rarely smiled now. She missed his smile.

He didn’t look pompous right now, he looked sad. She reached over and took his hand in hers. He gave it a gentle squeeze and caressed  the back of her hand with his thumb.

“Please Gordon, let’s at least try and get out of the rut we’ve got ourselves into. I’m prepared to give it a go.”

“I’m too long in the tooth to change Mags. Change scares me. You married a boring old fart I’m afraid. I can’t help the way I am. I know that I’m difficult to live with and I get frustrated with myself. I’ll give it a go because I’m shit scared of losing you. But I can’t promise anything, really I can’t.”

Maggie smiled. She loved that Gordon had reverted to calling her Maggie again but it warmed her heart that he had called her Mags. Something he hadn’t done for many years.

She chuckled “Sorry, I’m being bossy. Since when do I, timid Maggie Thornden, boss people around?”

“I rather like hearing you being assertive for once. You used to be really assertive back in our early days. I used to like you bossing me around, taking charge. What changed?”

“Who knows … babies, boredom, complacency, you?”

There was less than two years separating Susan and James. It had been difficult in those early years for Maggie when the children were very little. Susan had been a difficult toddler, constantly needing attention and having temper tantrums when she didn’t get her own way. James was a placid baby but suffered badly when he was teething. Gordon was working long hours at the small accountancy firm where he was employed. He commuted by train and would often arrive home to find the house in a mess with toys strewn all over the small living room floor and their children not fast asleep despite it being past their bed times. Susan would be refusing to stay in her bed and demanding drinks and stories and James would be grizzling in his cot. Maggie with her un-brushed hair and the same un-ironed clothes that she had been wearing for several days looked exhausted. Gordon started to moan about the state of the house and that they were only eating convenience food from the freezer. He was the breadwinner and did his bit for the family by earning a wage. It was only right that his wife should play her part in keeping the house tidy and being a good mother to their children. Maggie was too tired to argue so would apologise and promise to try harder. Things got a lot easier when the children were older but by that time the young, carefree Maggie had disappeared and Gordon had turned into the likeness of his obnoxious father before even hitting middle age!

The light outside was beginning to fade. Maggie got up to turn the kitchen light on and fill the kettle.

“I don’t know about you, but I could murder a cup of tea. Would you like one, or would you rather have a coffee.” She looked at the two empty wine bottles sitting on the table and laughed.” I can’t believe that we’ve drank two bottles between us and neither of us are flat out under the table!”

Gordon smiled. To be honest, I think I’ll probably keel over when I stand up. The wine was rather good though. We should get more of it. Here, sit down and I’ll make us coffee. Do you want the real  deal coffee or that rubbish instant stuff that I for some reason unbeknown to me you seem to prefer.

“Maybe I’ll add barista training and coffee tasting to my list!”

It was well past midnight when Maggie shut her notebook and Gordon started his nightly routine of locking up, turning off the TV at the wall and closing the internal doors which would hold back any fires that might start in the night and giving them time to make their escape. Maggie meanwhile finished loading the dishwasher with their coffee cups and wiped down the kitchen surfaces. These routines along with others were so deep seated that they were unaware that they were doing them. As neither of them complained about them, was there any need to try and change something that wasn’t an issue?

Gordon had been a bit dubious of some of Maggie’s plan. Some he refused flatly to be any part of. Spicing up their non-existent sex life was a topic that Gordon found highly embarrassing as was Maggie’s insistence that he make a doctor’s appointment to sort out his troublesome prostate.

It pleased him immensely that she asked him to take her along to the bowls club and show her how to play the game he enjoyed so much. She even offered to take more interest in bird watching. It was a shame though that when he suggested more trips to Neolithic sites, she had said –maybe, we’ll see – which didn’t sound too promising. He’d have to work on that one!

At the top of the stairs Maggie stretched up to kiss her husband on the cheek. “I enjoyed tonight. It was good talking. Not just about the usual mundane things, but important stuff. About us.”

“I really enjoyed it too. Well goodnight Maggie. Sleep well and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Gordon turned to go into their bedroom.

“That bed in the spare room is really uncomfortable. I’ll sleep much better in our bed.”

Gordon held the door opened for Maggie to enter their bedroom. He turned off the landing light and closed the bedroom door behind them.