The voice of an angel

From the bathroom her voice travelled throughout the house. It filled the rooms upstairs before drifting down into the hallway and then swirled into the kitchen. Brian put the glass he’d been drying into the cupboard and paused to listen to his wife’s voice. He stood with one hand holding the cupboard door and the other gripping a tea towel. On his face he wore a broad smile.

Claire was singing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ whilst showering. Every morning she sang a nursery rhyme and every morning she sang it in the wrong key. Brian didn’t care about this though. To him, Claire had the voice of an angel.

On the third reprise of the rhyme Claire stopped. This was the sign that she had finished showering and also the signal for Brian to make a cup of tea. As the kettle boiled he listened to the sound of her delicate footsteps walking into the bedroom.

Five minutes later she was walking downstairs; her hair wrapped in a towel with the rest of her covered by a dressing gown. Claire entered the kitchen and took the cup of tea from Brian’s outstretched hand. She kissed him gently on the cheek and then twirled round and began walking back to the hallway.

As Brian watched her walk away his mind pulled out an old memory.  Maybe it was something in the way she twirled round, maybe it was the smell of her damp hair, or maybe it was just time for Brian to remember an evening from twenty years previous.

Brian and Claire had been dating for several months at the time. They had gone through the early stages of meeting sporadically, then being together constantly, and now had to decide where their relationship went next.

Claire had been saying recently that they didn’t seem to be spending as much time together. She was concerned this meant Brian was losing interest in the relationship. This wasn’t true. In fact Brian was worried he liked Claire too much and was purposefully not seeing in her in case he said something stupid.

That night he’d agreed to take Claire to the pictures. This had been a good move. He’d also decided to choose which film they watched. This proved to be a bad move. They’d met outside the cinema. It had been raining so Brian sheltered underneath the doorway. He saw Claire come walking up the road; she waved as she saw him and he gave a small, waist high, wave back. Her hair was curling due to the dampness in the air and Brian’s heart skipped.

Claire kissed him on the cheek, he placed his arm around her and they both entered the cinema. At the counter Brian smiled at the ticket clerk and asked for two tickets to watch ‘The Skull Garden’.

“The what?” asked Claire.
“The Skull Garden. I’ve heard it’s good.” Brian instantly had a sense of dread about this conversation.
“And what kind of film is it?” Claire wriggled free of Brian’s arm, “Sounds gruesome.”
“I suppose it’s a horror film really. It’s about a bloke who kills people and buries their heads. That’s where the name comes from.”

As soon as he said this Brian knew Claire wasn’t happy. It showed in her face, in her arm gestures and the way she spun round and walked out of the cinema. Brian paused for a moment, smiled nervously at the clerk, and then decided he had better follow Claire.

She was halfway down the road before he caught up with her. He was slightly out of breath as he asked,

“What’s wrong?”
“Wrong? I’ll tell you shall I?”
“Well, yes please.”
“What on earth”, Claire pointed markedly back towards the cinema, “made you think I wanted to watch a horror film? Do you pay so little attention to me that you don’t even know what kinds of film I like?”

Brian simply looked at her. He didn’t know what films Claire liked. Maybe she had told him and he hadn’t listened. Maybe he was supposed to have worked it out from subtle clues she gave. Either way he just didn’t know what to say next.

“Are you going to speak?” asked Claire.
“Erm…” Brian’s voice trailed into silence.

Claire waved her arms again and continued her walk away from the cinema and from Brian.

It had been several days later that Claire had, at last, spoken to Brian again. It took several apologies on his part and even then there was a moment where she’d decided things wouldn’t work between them. But that passed and two years later they married. Eighteen years of marriage later their life had settled into the same daily routine.

Brian heard Claire re-enter the bedroom. He put down the tea towel and moved to the bottom of the staircase.

“Claire.” he shouted.
“Yes?” the bedroom door muffled the reply.
“I love you.”
“Love you too.”

Brian smiled, walked back into the kitchen, and continued with the washing up.


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