Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)
TITLE: Role Reversal
By Noel Mitaxa
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His eyelids were heavy as he sank deeper into the overstuffed upholstery and lifted his feet onto an old padded footrest. None of their furniture was new, and the most generous assessment from any interior designer who looked around their tiny cottage would label the décor as “pre-loved,’ or from the early “Bad Taste Era.” Or should “e-r-a” be spelled “e-r-r-o-r?”
Their furniture may have been old, experienced, or pre-loved; but not Jeff and Stacey. They had each other, they were newly married, and they had big dreams for their future together.
However, now it was time to relax in each other’s company. Well, it was for Jeff, for Stacey was in the kitchen preparing the vegetables for dinner.
She had picked up part-time secretarial on-call employment, which suited them just fine, since they had both agreed that Jeff should be the main breadwinner.
Jeff’s fatigue had blocked his courtesy in asking about her day; so he was unaware of a deadline that an extremely pedantic office supervisor had imposed on her until quite late that afternoon. She had met it, but only just; and she had not been swamped with appreciation for letting the supervisor off the hook.
As he reached for the chilled glass that would enhance his refreshment, he dimly heard her ask: “Hey, my big man, let’s have a role reversal!”
Role reversal? thought Jeff, isn’t that what I do anytime she installs the toilet paper wrong way round?
But no, Stacey had much more on her mind: “I mean let’s swap roles for a while. You take over preparing our dinner, and I’ll watch a news channel for a while… Who knows, we might get a whole new outlook on this marriage thing…”
She stretched out as Jeff ambled towards the kitchen to place the potatoes and pumpkin in the baking tray, while making a mental note to remember when to reach into the freezer to extract the peas and corn. The rotisserie was beginning to waft delicious meat aromas into the near atmosphere, and he was feeling completely in control.
Until he heard Stacey start moaning…
“Why don’t they elect some people we can trust to run this great country properly? It’s going to the dogs! These lawyers are tying us up in knots with all their challenges to laws that used to make perfect sense! Listen to this fella – the only way he could say less would be if he talked for a lot longer! They are useless, and you can’t win against them!”
As the newscast swung into the sports segment, Jeff heard her move up a gear: “What do they pay that umpire for? He should be fined – not paid! He’s ruined more games with his constant interruptions than anyone. He should be called a vampire – not an umpire, because he just sucks the lifeblood out a game whenever he is rostered on!”
Jeff was wide awake now, for his beautiful, demure Stacey seemed to have suddenly turned into a loud, aggressive couch potato of the worst male variety. But he could not let her have it all her way.
“We need more money coming into the house. How can I expect to stay handsome without a new outfit? Frank from next door has so many great clothes, and his wife never complains," he ventured.
"And my car needs to be replaced? And have you seen how pathetic my tools are in the workshop? How can I fix anything without proper equipment?” he continued.
Looking across at this newly-transformed love of his life, he felt an uneasy foreboding. Had he gone too far? What was the outlook now for a future they had until just now been so united in?
Stacey leapt up from her chair and headed for the back door, quickly opening it and stepping through, before turning back towards him with a wink and a smile: “Be back soon, Hon, I have to go out and dirty some more clothes.”
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