Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: C. A. Broadribb

Alan stares at the paper in shock.  Bills are a part of life, he knows, but $815?  Calls to South American countries that he would have difficulty locating on a map?  Daria must be responsible; nobody else ever uses his landline.  Even for her, this is outrageous behaviour.

“For goodness sake, darling, why are you so tense?” Daria says, swirling into the kitchen in her multi-coloured dress.  “Grumpiness is unbecoming.”

“How do you explain this?” he snaps, waving the paper at her.

“I don’t know why you’re so upset.  Just a few calls to my acquaintances to say ‘hi’.”  Keeping her smile bright and her voice low, she leans across the counter towards him.  “Let’s not let an itty bitty bill come between us.”

“Maybe you don’t care about money, but I do!  Nobody rings Columbia on my phone without my permission.”

“Oh, I was organising a shipment of… talcum powder.  Perfect Christmas gift for all of our friends.”

“Quite ridiculous.  Really, you should get a mobile like everyone else and pay for your own calls.”  Slamming the bill down, he knocks over his cup and coffee spills everywhere.  To his annoyance, Daria makes no attempt to help him clean it up.  “Useless bitch,” he mutters.  

Visibly taken aback, Daria clutches at her necklace.  “Why do you say such a nasty thing, when I’m the one who arranges parties and introduces you to interesting people, I’m the one working on a plan to make us rich, I’m the one who rescued you from your boring suburban life with your boring suburban friends.”

“Xanthippe,” Alan mutters, starting to calm down yet maintaining a perverse sense of pride in his hobby of memorising obscure words from the dictionary.

“You’d be bored out of your mind without me, darling, and you know it, so how about asking for an extension on paying that bill until my powder business takes off, and then we can put this matter behind us.”

“Zany, that’s what you are!” Alan says, remembering why he had started dating her in the first place.

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