Ruth and Mikey by Emma Hardy

Mikey and Ruth live in a semi-detached house with three bedrooms.

Ruth and Mikey do not need anybody else, for they are so in love. Nothing else matters except being together. But they live in this world, our world, and therefore this can never be allowed.

[private]They must go about their daily business. They must go to work and come home from their jobs every evening. This only makes their love stronger. As each day passes they long to be back in one another’s arms.

People do not understand how they can be happy, how everything isn’t a compromise.

After work on the first Monday of the month, on her way home in the Volkswagen Golf she and Mikey chose together one Saturday afternoon at a used car showroom, Ruth stops at Ikea. She buys cheap plates and bowls. At home that night, she and Mikey throw bland Swedish crockery across their living room, letting the plates and bowls crack against the walls. In this way they create a semblance of normality for the neighbours.

In work, on Tuesday, Mikey grumbles about how the washing machine broke at the weekend and how he and Ruth had to wash their underwear in the kitchen sink. He relates how tedious this task was to Geoff from HR, but in his head recalls the fun he and Ruth had throwing their soapy underwear at each other.

On Wednesday, Mikey and Ruth try not to offend their old university friends when they are invited round for dinner. They do not need the comfort of these old friends, or to recollect undergraduate japes and drinking games, but they recall and reminisce with the others for their sakes.

On Thursday, Ruth attempts to cover up a bruise on her face that she gained whilst engaged in acrobatic sex the night before. She overstates to her Pilates instructor, Michelle, that this bruise is nothing and merely the result of her inherent clumsiness. This leaves Michelle with the accurate impression that the bruising has been inflicted by Mikey, but in a scenario entirely different to one of enthusiastic sexual antics.

Mikey finishes work a little earlier than Ruth on Fridays, so he plays football with the lads from the office. He never stays out for a drink with them afterwards, because he has to get home to the missus. The lads make a joke of this every week, and Mikey looks to the ground and projects an image of a hen-pecked husband before he waves them off and stops on the way home, purchasing something meaningful as a gift for Ruth.

Saturday evenings are spent watching television or a film on DVD. Ruth and Mikey look forward to Saturdays. Their actions during the week make people invite each of them out individually; their behaviour only encourages friendship and supportiveness.

A walk in the local park may take place on Sundays, or they may stay in bed all day. When the neighbours see neither of them leave the house all day they discuss how dreadful it must be for them, stuck in together. People who see them feeding stale bread to the ducks in the park think what a lovely couple Mikey and Ruth are, but tell themselves that at home things must be different. Nobody can be that happy, surely. But they can, Ruth and Mikey are happy.

In a month’s time or in a year’s time, Ruth will get sick of the plate throwing but Mikey will believe that they still need to keep up the pretence. Mikey will stay out for a pint with the lads after football. Ruth will further build the pretence of domestic violence and Mikey will complain truthfully about the lack of sex to Geoff from HR. Mikey and Ruth will start going out without each other and as the prophecy self-fulfils, one or both of them will have an affair in order to regain a sense of normality. They will split up, inevitably, and it will be due to their need to please you.[/private]

Emma HardyEmma Hardy grew up in Liverpool, lived in various northern towns and has settled in Glasgow. Emma teaches creative writing, mainly in universities. She writes short fiction and writes for the stage. Emma is somewhere between doing and not doing a PhD in Creative Writing.

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