* * *
“Why are you so quiet today?”
“M’not” she muttered, fixing her eyes straight ahead and ignoring his gaze.
“You’re not usually this quiet. Have I done something to piss you off again?”
“No!” she snapped impatiently, her temper flaring.
“What is it then? Are you still upset about you hair?” He questioned with no trace of irony.
“No I’m not, OK? Why can’t you stop bugging me and just PISS OFF?!” She stormed loudly, oblivious to the disinterested passers by, filing around them on their way to the train station.
His cheeks burned and his once amiable mood suffered a quick death. He strode on in front of her, ignoring her voice trailing behind him;
“Who’s pissed off now? You’re not even walking with me...”
Her plaintive tone was quelled by the buzz of morning commuters, struggling to make their way onto the busy platform. Jack didn’t glance behind him to see her off, and forgo his usual cheery send off, a sneaky brush of her amble chest and a nibble on her lip. He was getting so sick of her attitude.
Relief overtook him as he boarded the spanking new train at Shadwell overground station. The new line had only been open for a few weeks now, and initially he had wondered if he might miss loosing the extra time alone with Stacey, as she boarded her DLR train to bank. No such worry troubled him today, as to be honest he was glad not to have to look at her sourpuss face for another moment. He was a big bloke, after all, and he didn’t own the required footwear that treading on eggshells demanded. Fuck her, the miserable cow he thought as he looked up at the platform clock. 7.23am: he may actually make it in before 8 today.. it was possible that her idiotic faffing about with the hair straighteners in the bathroom may not have made him as late as he feared.
He noticed she’d become more and more tetchy with him lately, especially in
the mornings. She’d been implementing new household laws; the latest (and most irritating yet) had been that she got first dibs on the bathroom in the morning. This delayed his fifteen minute shit/shower/shave to the point that his boss had had to have stern word about punctuality... but his boss was a nice old geezer whose wrath Jack feared less then Stacey’s cutting remarks.
“Happy wife, Happy Life” he muttered darkly, but shook the bitterness off. It wasn’t truly in his nature to hold a grudge, it never had been. Even at school he’d had the reputation of being so laid back he was almost horizontal... and though the ‘cheeky chappy cockney’ tag was tired and dated, it suited Jack Stewart to a tea. His philosophy had always been that life was too short to let the little things bother you. Take Stacey – for all her (practically obsessive) attention to detail, all her college courses and her administrative training. Had it made her any happier? All the stressing over this grade, or that piece of coursework..for what? She wasn’t actually earning all that more then he was, and she always seemed to be stressed about this report that needed to be typed, or that conference that had to be booked. Each event she managed was tinged with urgency and took on the importance of a prime minister’s visit. He never understood it himself, and tended to zone out abit when she starting going on about her job (which was often) and to be honest, he was hard pushed to tell you exactly what she did for a living .
He had to call her to check her job title when he’d been to the registry office
recently, to begin the process of filling in the required forms to prepare for their marriage in a few months time. She’d sighed overly loudly when he rang, and said in an incredulous voice ‘Do you mean to tell me, Jack Stewert, that you don’t know what your future wife is employed as?!’ and he’d had to quickly backtrack and make up some yarn about needing to be sure of her official title or the forms would be invalid, and their marriage would not be legal.
No that that had bothered him much either, really. But birds were different, wern’t they? They wanted all that white wedding hoo haa, the chairs covers to match the name cards or some other such frippery that he’d never even known existed, before she’d started planning the Wedding.
The Wedding had to have a capital W because of the gravity and significance it had taken on in their lives. They were both working 10 hour days now in order to save for every item that Stacey decided was essential to the day, and more importantly, her happiness.
His overtime money was squirreled away by her into an account that she oversaw, and every now and again she start bugging him about colour schemes of hor d’overves. As if he gave a shit- but he had to pretend to give a considered opinion of every single one of the minute and insignificant details and dilemmas that she constantly bombarded him with.
I do love her though, he assured himself. It’s like everyone always says, Stacey’s a Diamond. To be fair the new haircut was probably not the most flattering as the choppy layers took the edge off her high cheekbones and the heavy fringe obscured her most striking feature: large clear green eyes, that could smolder with both vulnerability and sultriness – and sometimes, strangely, both at once. He never could work that out.
But what was the use in trying to work Stacey out? You’d die or go mad trying, he scoffed. As long as he could keep her happy and give her everything she wanted, then things would work out just fine. He just had to do as she instructed, and try not to bug her anymore.