by Brendan Strong
This is totally unplanned. It just unfolds.
We have to cut back on some things, but we don’t know what. She lies in bed, on her front. I lean in the door frame. We just can’t agree.
“We don’t get out together anymore.”
“We can’t pay these bills. Loans. Credit cards. Phone, electricity, gas.”
“But we need to have a life!”
All that kind of stuff. We need to be able to laugh at this. Shit. There is darkness flooding this house. Pushing the light switch sets off no more than a ping. The sound tells you more about the light like that. Your ears tell you what your eyes need to know. Like when your belly tells you what your arse is about to go through. How can anyone go on like this! Flicking the switch. On. Off. On, off. On/off. No light, not even a ping anymore. Nothing to be done.
“Just change the bulb… … Not now! In the morning…”
“…as simple as plugging out your electrical appliances at night. TVs, DVD players, mobile phone chargers… laptop power adapters are divils for using excess power, even when the thing is turned off! We can’t continue on this energy splurge any longer, either economically or ecologically…” We should change the alarm from radio to beeps. At least the beeps – violent as they are to dreaming minds – remain meaningful, no matter how often they are repeated. Get up. Get up. Get up. News, on the other hand (and music for that matter) turns human misery into cliché.
We can cut back. We can get through. But where do we go from there? She tells me I think too much, as toothpaste escapes my mouth with my thoughts. Dressed, she gets her things together. I am catching up. Pants, but no shirt. I need coffee though. Something else to cut back on.
At work, they’re cutting back. No more printing without permission. Or photocopies. There goes the end of all those loan applications. No more free coffee. Motivational meetings to be held on Facebook, or emailed to the team. Still, there’s more than one way to waste money during the day. We email each other. It starts off “I’m not giving out, but you should think about…” A few of these, and it turns into:
“Wine, €25 per week –> €1500 a year! NOT including Christmas!”
“Smokes: how much?”
“You don’t need designer anything!”
“You don’t read all those books!”
All that kind of stuff. We need to be able to laugh at this. Shit. We arrive home at the same time, by accident, hoping to miss each other. Bags in our hands. Our minds compiling the accusations and arguments, ready for another round of who overspends and what is a want and what is a need; a train of thought; runs right through it; drives it all off the tracks. We look at each other. Really look at each other. We smile. The bulb unchanged. There is darkness in this house, but at least we can make light of it.