Reality Has No Value

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Many married couples work hard to provide the appearance of their marriage they believe others expect. Maintaining this appearance can cause stress in the marriage. When this happens, a married couple may lose touch with what is actually happening between them.

A second hand is moving around the clock attached to the office wall. It sits above the doorway and draws occasional glances from the two people who are sitting in the room. The clock's ticking is the only noticeable sound. Sitting in a chair next to a table filled with magazines is Gary Edmonds. His short blonde hair is neatly combed. The expensive suit he's wearing is accented with a gold watch on his wrist. The gold wedding band on his finger has inlays of diamonds. His high-priced leather shoes shine like glass. With a magazine in his lap, he makes the occasional sigh and quickly turns a page. He's not reading anything. Gary simply wants it to annoy his wife. She is sitting on a couch located at the other end of the room.

Doris Edmonds refuses to respond to her husband's taunting and sighs. She knows he wants to irritate her. Doris won't give him that pleasure. She simply focuses her attention on the book she's reading. The couch cushions Doris is sitting on begins to make a slight squeaking sound when she adjusts herself. Doris believes this sound combined with clearing her throat is a good way to fight back against her husband's attempt at annoyance. Her hair and make-up are perfect. The dress she has on is considered fashionable. Her shoes may have cost a bit more than those on Gary's feet.

Soon the clock's ticking is competing with the sound of intentional cushion squeaking, magazine page-turning as well as throat clearing and sighs. After several minutes of this Gary abruptly closes his magazine and slams it on the table. He quickly stands up and points at Doris.

“Can you just stop it?”

Doris looks up at Gary. Her face is one of innocence combined with a smirk.

“Stop what dear?”

“You know very well what. You're constantly moving to make that couch cushion squeak. That and your continuous throat clearing have got to stop.”

Doris smiles and shrugs her shoulders.

“It's certainly not my fault the cushions squeak when I move. You do realize there are times when a person must clear their throat.”

Doris quickly turns a page in her book and sighs. Gary shakes his head and points again at the smiling Doris. He stops before saying anything. Gary then walks over to the door.

“I'm going to the bathroom. I'll be back before it's our time.”

“Do you want to take a magazine with you?”

Gary groans and leaves the room.

Doris feels as if she's just experienced the sweet taste of victory.

 

********

 

Gary just stands in the bathroom. He's not exactly sure what to do right now. He just washes his hands and looks in the mirror. His mind tries to understand the situation with his wife. Why does she do things just to irritate me? Doris is always angry. Is she still upset about her birthday? Gary tried to explain It wasn't his fault it fell on a day when his mother wanted to have dinner. He told Doris since it was her birthday, she was more than welcome to come and have dinner with him and his mother. Gary was even willing to take Doris to a nice restaurant the next day. That wasn't good enough. Why is she always saying he is still tied to his mother's apron strings? She just doesn't understand the tremendous guilt his mother can make him feel. When they got married Doris even refused to live with him and his mother. Now she's upset because he splits his sleeping time between their home and his mother's house. There is no pleasing Doris.

Why is she always angry about their business? It's been successful. She is always screaming about money. He knows this is just Doris being upset over nothing. She constantly wants to discuss numbers and bills. These are things he doesn't want to think about. The financial aspect of their business is her job. This was their agreement. She shouldn't bother him with it. He always tells Doris that as long as he can speak to the public, they will be successful. She is always so jealous of my charm and charisma. Doris knows nothing about the subtleties of making an impression with the right people. It's nothing, but she always seems so upset by it.

Maybe she still is angry over not yet having children. Doris was so upset when I told her we weren't ready for children. She doesn't seem to realize the business requires all of our attention right now. When I told her I'd discussed our potential children with my mother, Doris became extremely upset. Wouldn't a child also be my mother's grandchild? Shouldn't my mother's feelings be a consideration? My wife has refused to hear any of my mother's advice on the subject.

There is always the problem of cleaning the house. No matter how many times it is explained to Doris that his mother always takes care of cleaning his house, she refuses to listen. His mother certainly can't clean both homes. There was that time when Doris stopped cleaning the house. She blamed the mess on Gary. She claims he does not clean up after himself. When his mother bravely came over and cleaned their house, Doris became irrational. He still doesn't why that upset her so much. Gary sometimes wonders why they're married.

 

********

 

With Gary out of the room, Doris Edmonds moves to a quieter chair. She removes make-up items from her purse. Doris takes a mirror and closely looks at her face. A touch up needs to be done before they leave here. As she goes to work, Doris wonders about her husband. Gary does drive her crazy. The usual thoughts begin to cloud her mind.

When they were dating he was so romantic and considerate. She discovered later that he was simply following instructions from his mother. It's very disappointing to realize your husband may never have an original thought during his life. At times, it's like being married to a man who is a puppet and has a mother who controls him like a marionette. Gary has attempted to stand up to his mother on different occasions. It has never ended well. At least he now sleeps in our home most of the week.

Together they have built a nice business. Gary never understands just how much better it could be if he didn't spend so much money. Yelling at him doesn't work. Doris hates all the surprises she receives every month on credit card statements. Gary is always so willing to pay for meals when meeting with people. He has no idea the amount of debt this creates. Gary says it's an investment. He causes her a lot of stress with their finances. Managing all the money for their business could be easy. She just needs to discover a way to manage Gary's spending behavior. Yelling at him doesn't help. On some level, it does make her feel better.

When Doris is finished, she returns the makeup items to her purse. There is a picture of her sister's children there. Doris looks at the picture and thoughts of being a mother fill her mind.

She knows Gary wanted to be a father before they were married. Now he keeps putting it off. She wonders when it will be the right time for him to have children. She can only hope it will be soon. Maybe when he stops asking his mother for permission. Doris thinks Gary would probably ask to use his mother's ovaries for their child if it was possible.

She looks at the clock on the wall. Doris realizes it's about time. She looks at where Gary sat and it's a mess. Doris tells herself her husband can't keep anything clean. Gary needs to learn how to operate a vacuum cleaner and use cleaning supplies. Having his mother tell him about it as she cleans their house isn't helping him. Doris knows she can help but scream at him, but it doesn't change Gary's behavior. She has tried. Doris sometimes wonders why they are married.

 

********

 

Gary walks back into the room. When Doris notices him, they exchange angry glances. The uncomfortable silence persists for a few minutes.

“You guys ready? You'll be on in about a minute.”

When they turn around Gary and Doris notice a man standing in the doorway. He's wearing headphones with a microphone in front of his mouth. The man is also holding a clipboard. A happy smile instantly appears on the faces of Gary and Doris.

“We are ready,” says Gary.

“Okay then, you two can just follow me.”

Doris and Gary stand next to one another. They look forward as they continue smiling. The couple holds hands and walks out of the room.

On stage is a well-dressed man talking to a studio audience.

“I believe our next couple probably has the type of marriage we all would like to have. Gary and Doris Edmonds are going to be out in just a minute. They'll be talking about their latest best-selling book on marriage called “Communication and Respect Are the Key, ” says the man.

At one end of the stage, the curtain moves back. Doris and Gary walk onto the stage smiling and waving. In front of them is an enthusiastic crowd clapping and cheering. The clapping continues even after Doris and Gary sit down. Holding up a copy of the book, the talk show host begins speaking.

“So tell me about this book. In many places around the world, the two of you are considered experts on having a happy marriage. Do you agree?”

Gary looks at Doris lovingly. He makes a point to put his hand on top of his wife's so the crowd notices. It's a well-rehearsed move they've done many times. This is the part of their talk show routine where Gary begins speaking.

“I did learn many important things working as a marriage counselor over the years. I believe our happy marriage is proof that what we've written about does work. It can help any couple have a more open and honest relationship. Communication and respect are essential to having a happy marriage.”

Gary looks over at Doris, and they exchange their rehearsed smiles. The audience begins clapping. The people watching the couple on television and in the studio believe in the image they see taking place in front of them. It makes many of them want to read the books written by Doris and Gary. In their relationship, the image they provide is more important than anything else. They are married to their illusion. Reality, for them, has no value.

 

 

The End

 


Submitted: October 19, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Nevidomo Istoriya. All rights reserved.

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