– Pass me that paper, will ya? – Said James to his wife.
Anne detected a trace of irritation in her husband’s voice, however she couldn’t really figure out what was causing his unrest since it was an ordinary Sunday afternoon and all James did on such days was to sit in an armchair and relax – trying to forget the worries of his job. She didn’t really bother asking, sensing that he would grow protective and try to deny the mild allegation derived from his wife. She passed the newspaper James was referring to and turned back to grating carrots.
James commenced on browsing through the headlines of Friday’s paper hoping to come across an article he hadn’t yet read.
At this late stage of their marriage they had long given up the urge to have any kind of noise in the house – be it music, television or a meaningless chatter. They had grown accustomed to the idea that it is quite all right to stay alone with their thoughts and sometimes being carried away so far as to forget where they were.
The irritation in James’s voice made Anne become more cautious of her actions. She was wondering if the sound of the carrots being grated was also contributing to her husband’s annoyance and couldn’t quite decide if she were to stop doing it. Another option was to take it to the kitchen but the fear of her intention being detected kept her where she was. Although she tried to make the process more silent – as if it were even possible.
James sighed deeply, thus wordlessly commenting on the allegedly troubling news he had read in the paper. Anne sensed that this could serve as a nice conversation starter and for a moment decided to ask what the sigh was all about. As she opened her mouth, another thought crossed her mind questioning the very intention. She knew that after this short verbal exchange about the news, there would be nothing else to be said and the silence that they had grown accustomed to, would become uncomfortable and even unbearable. James wasn’t looking at her, but she still felt the urge to justify her opening mouth and she also sighed, although it was less audible than that of James’s.
Anne was paying close attention to her fingers as not to peel them along with the carrots and that was when she noticed her fingernails needed to be done. She tried, but couldn’t remember when she did them last time. Although housework was her main concern in the family, she still couldn’t find time to take care of her appearance. This thought made her realize that it wasn’t time she couldn’t find, but the will to do so. There was no purpose in taking care of her appearance as she knew that there was no chance of going out with her husband, neither she expected any unexpected guests and nor she had any friends whom she’d visit. This realization saddened her and as usual her mood caused her remember the long forgotten dream to be a painter. She looked back to the days when the dream seemed so realistic and so easy to make it come true, but now it had only remained a memory of those young and lively times. She knew that being married and raising children was usually causing people give up their dreams, she saw it in movies, she read about it in books, she saw it around her – among the neighbours, but it was still causing her a slight pain in the soul, a pain of unfulfilled goal. In search of answers on the question as to what slowed her down so much, the first thing that came to her mind was family and mainly his husband. Upon realizing this she felt guilty to put blame on her husband and in a poor attempt to make up for the guilty conscience she turned to her husband and out of the clear blue sky, asked a question on which she knew answer all along.
– James, what is your dream?
James lowered the paper and although he wasn’t using glasses he looked at her from down under, as if he were looking over some invisible glasses. Anne could easily detect the amazement in his husband’s gaze – fixed at her, looking over the glasses he wasn’t wearing.
James being confused by the unexpected question was trying to pinpoint its context, even though the absence of prior conversation made it almost impossible.
– I want to own a bank, – said James.
– Well, at least you work in a bank, – commented Anne, implying that there was something she had been thinking about before uttering the question. But unfortunately James couldn’t decipher his wife’s comment and the room once again sank into silence.
James continued reading the paper without raising it to the previous position and Anne having finished grating the carrots was sitting there and staring at the orange pile in front of her. The implication being left unnoticed upset her a little but she didn’t get angry as she was quite used to her husband being inattentive. Left alone to her thoughts she followed the dream in her imagination and from setting up a tripod she jumped to the gallery where her exhibition was held and pictured herself with a drink in her hand talking to a bunch of critics who were praising her art. As if it were not enough a success for such a short period of imagining her future as an artist she went as far as to kill herself off and set up a scene in her mind, probably a hundred years from that time, where an auction was held and her paintings were sold at amazingly high prices. Only the thought and picturesque imagination of such a success was enough for her to get the warm feeling spread all over her lungs.
Having reached the limits of her imagination, she returned to earth and found herself still staring at the pile of grated carrots. An agonizing despair took hold of Anne and she got angry at herself. She was angry for not even trying to paint even though she had a load of free time and probably it was out of this anger that she thought to herself – I am going to start painting from tomorrow.
As this though crossed her mind another feeling of despair stroke her, because she knew in advance that she wouldn’t start painting. She knew it for a fact, because it was not the first time she had decided to do so.