He looked around, preparing himself. The room was as silent as always, even more silent now that the large windows had been closed. You could no longer hear the cars and the buzzing of the traffic lights. The calm before the storm. Now the only intruder to break the silence was the massive, wooden clock that sat behind them, ticking away. He closed his eyes, listening to seconds pass, matching his own heart rhythm: boom, boom, boom… Only a couple more seconds before the thunder of her voice resonated in his ears.

‘How can you do that to me?!’

He opened his eyes to look at her.

She was still looking out the window, her back facing him. He was glad the windows were now closed, or else the whole city would have heard the tone of her voice. He sat down on the right side of the black leather sofa, sighing. He was always sitting there, on that half of the sofa, using the armrest as a mouse-pad whenever he worked from home. Not as often as before, nowadays.

‘Calm down, darling, the neighbours will hear you. You know how thin the walls are, and ’

‘I don’t care about the neighbours!’

She turned around to fire daggers at him, but his eyes were on the shelves, with all the books he’d alphabetically ordered; he liked to keep them that way. She could feel her eyes slowly filling with tears. She looked across to the framed photos that she wiped clean each and every Friday. From one, a young couple stared back at her, big smiles stretched across their faces. It was the day he proposed. The ring proudly resting on her finger as she held it up to the camera. There were pictures of her playing the cello alone on stage, pictures taken by him, sitting in the first row. She was even looking at the camera, albeit nervously. It was he who gave her strength to be there, the power to be confident.

He looked back at her, smiling a little when he realised she was following his advice and had stopped yelling. He knew she cared about their privacy as much as he did. But then she spoke again, her voice low and trembling, her blue eyes sparkling in tears now.

‘You really can’t do that. You promised you’ll be there, you have to.’

A tear rolled down to her chin and fell to the smooth, wooden floor. She remembered again the reason she insisted on having it. Parquet reminded her of a stage. She had enjoyed the years of playing her cello there, facing the city, yet still struggling to suffocate her anxiety with the music she loved. But nothing worked how it should unless his dark eyes were on her, supplying her with all the necessary courage. And that night, she would be alone.

‘Honey.’ His voice was relaxed, but he was trying hard to keep it like that. ‘You will be fine. I trust you, you’ve worked hard for this. And you know I want to be there, in the front row as always, to be there for you. But work, they really need me there and -’

‘Well, I need you as well! Since when is work more important than me?!’

She was sobbing furiously. Hesitating, he stood up and moved across to hug her. She pushed him away and turned again to the window. He looked at the clock, trying to hear the rhythmic beats, but her thunderstorm of tears was more powerful. Almost unnatural. But it was late.

‘I will lock the door after me. We’ll talk over the phone.’

He sighed again, she was ignoring him.

And then a door was closed, sealed with a key, and the clock continued to record endless seconds.

She collapsed on the right side of the sofa, her face wet and raw.

***

This is it, the article that was chosen for being published in “everyday hymn – a young writers’ anthology” – and I’m grateful for that! The book consists of articles and poems written at the Arvon Creative Writing workshop, which I attended this late August. The purpose of the article was to write a dialogue about an argument, a fight, a disagreement.

I’ve been asked by my mentor which of the characters was represented by me – the truth is, I’m not sure. 🙂 I haven’t tried to get inspiration from a real dialogue, it’s pure fiction so I guess I’m a little bit of both. Or who knows, maybe it’s a inner argument with one’s self, two voices of the same person. I could write an article about the article, but maybe not right now… All that matters is that someone decided it was worth being published in a proper book, my first article that’s actually in a print version! 😀