There were only so many conversations she could have about football, a topic she knew next to nothing about and had no intention of studying. Yes, she’d occasionally go to the bar and watch a game with him, but that was for the chance to have a few good draft beers, and yes, she loved a fantasy football league, but that was for the gambling and opportunity to win some cash. As for the game itself, the players and teams, the rules and the cheerleaders…she couldn’t really care any less.
“Let’s not talk about football,” she said. Jim looked over at her without smiling and now she smiled at him. Shit, she thought, should have continued to nod and smile. “It’s just that I’ve got a bit of a headache now and was thinking we could snuggle on the couch and you could watch it and I’ll read my book, see if that gives it a chance to go away.” She wasn’t lying, she did have a headache, but more than that she was desperate for a few moments to herself.
It was laughable really, a few moments to herself. She had entire days to herself, how could she possibly need more alone time? It was greedy, gluttonous, selfish. Lovely.
Jim’s job kept him out of the house for at least ten hours a day, her job for at least eight, but because of their differing hours she’d often be up and gone long before he awoke, and back long before he’d return. It was perhaps what had kept them together so long, the not being together.
So while she figured she could gain his happiness back with reference to his being able to sit on the couch watching the game while also getting her time to herself by suggesting her book, it was a bit of a gamble. He might throw the whole, “we need to spend time together, and sitting on the couch doing different things isn’t ‘together,'” and then what would she say? I mean clearly they were “together” on the couch, but she couldn’t very well argue that, could she? And besides, that would be the stereotypical male argument, so no, she wouldn’t do that to him. She knew better.
She took a deep breath and tried not to let it out in a sigh. He caught her, caught the deep breath, seemed to understand exactly what she was thinking, feeling, avoiding. And there was that moment. That moment where he could call her out on it all or let it go. They were both very aware of this moment that stretched for an hour when it was nothing more than a fraction of a second.
“Yeah, alright. You want a beer?” he asked.
This time her smile was genuine, “yes. Yes, please.” She retreated to the couch, grabbing a blanket off the back and her book from the coffee table. She sat with her lower back against the arm rest, her feet towards the middle seat, tossing the blanket over her legs, with some extra at the end in case he wanted some too. She leaned towards the table, balancing her weight with her left arm as the fingertips of her right searched for purchase on the remote. Gratified that she was able to both get the remote and remain on the couch, her smile became even broader, and by the time Jim returned with two open bottles of beer she was ready to make nice, sliding her feet back a bit as he plopped down on the other side of the couch, handing the remote to him and taking the proffered bottle.
The day that had only moments ago threatened to become a disaster was now cozy and quaint and something she could mention to co-workers the next day and have it sound enviable. She was able to pretend that all was well for another week, to lose herself in a book for another day, maintain the facade for a bit longer. And it was exactly what she needed, even if it wasn’t at all.