CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
He recalled her face, the eyes, cheekbones and lips that had made Joe (his best friend) catch his breath, and Nick say, “If only I wasn’t married,” and Alan, nudging him, to say: “Jack, what are you waiting for?—she’s looking at you.” And he succumbed to the temptation, not the temptation of those lips and cheekbones, but the irresistible temptation of owning a possession that was so desired by his friends—for he was competitive.
He recalled lying in bed that morning. Maryanne took an interest in his body and then an increasing interest and before he knew what was happening he joined in the dance and his hips had become possessed by an unstoppable motion like the rolling of the sea waves that corrugate a beach’s naked surface, rolling and rolling and then he was pumping his energy into her. He lay there afterwards, feeling drained and tricked, as though some cunning urchin had offered him gold and as he reached to grasp it, it stole his energy instead.
“That was nice,” he distantly heard her saying.
Maryanne and the poltergeist, he knew, were separate, but he also knew he could not have one without the other, and the poltergeist’s antagonism was coming close to defeating him—for to lose one’s temper was to lose the match.
While thinking these things, he became aware of a humming noise and then, distantly, of Maryanne’s voice.
“This place is disgusting; how can you stand it?” she said, pushing his vacuum cleaner around the living room. “Can’t you move over there? I need to clean beneath you.”
She stood watching him but no response; he simply maintained his ridiculous pose. Despite herself, she raised her voice.
“I know you can hear me!”
Still no response, and there was now no doubt in her mind—he was deliberately ignoring her.
“Right! if you want to play it like that,” she said, and began meticulously cleaning the carpet around his feet, ensuring that every now and then she happened to bump the vacuum’s brush against his naked toes, which he did not respond to, causing her to notice an inexcusable amount of dirt on the carpet between his toes, which she could not help but attempt to reach with her ever more vigorous brush action, which proved to be an exhilarating workout for both her heart and her labouring arm and back muscles—what a release! push, push, push—until she was almost gasping with excitement. And just when she was beginning to enjoy herself, she looked up at his face and saw he was still pretending to have not noticed her. This was more than she could bear. She slapped his face.
Still no response.
She took a wide swing and slapped him as hard as she could and while she nursed her stinging hand she began scrutinizing his features for any response and noticed his mouth gradually forming into a smile.
No woman should be mocked in this way and though she knew she ought to be offended by his bad manners, she was so dumbstruck by his performance that she forgot to scold him. Instead she threw the brush down and walked away, telling him, “You’re weird.”
Jack had smiled because he realized the solution. He would simply stop resisting the poltergeist. He would relinquish his likes and dislikes of years and bend his will to its. If it wanted his shoes placed in a particular place, or wanted to keep the lids of jars unscrewed, so be it. He smiled. This seemed perfect—if he did not insist on a design, how could the poltergeist unpick it? And as he was smiling, he was vaguely aware of Maryanne standing before him, gently waving her arms around.
Sally Softly had an unusually large collection of tracksuits. The whole thing started two months ago when she suddenly noticed that Peter, her husband, was behaving strangely. He was not paying enough attention to her, so she (and she was quite within her rights to do this) she complained to him, saying, “You’re a selfish pig; you never think of anyone but yourself.”
For the next few days he watched her out of the corner of his eye, and when she had finally had enough of this, she told him, “Stop looking at me; I know what you’re thinking; don’t think I don’t.”
From then onwards he did not say another word but merely kept looking at her with his face contorted, as if in agony. From this, she deduced he was now trying to trick her into thinking she was ugly. But she was determined to not let him get the better of her, so whenever “doughnut” appeared on her shopping list, she would immediately scribble this out, write a further entry below it, drag herself out of her easy chair and stagger to the nearest sports shop to buy a tracksuit (which was the added item on her shopping list), so that she could use the tracksuit to counteract the side effects of eating doughnuts.
At 17 Misconception Boulevard, Sally was now standing in her living room, wearing one of these tracksuits. She watched her usual exercise‑spot on the carpet, when she recalled Peter looking at her that morning with that look on his face. She reflected (—I’ll teach him to try to trick me into thinking I’m ugly—I’ll do some more exercise. Not that there is any excess weight on me, mind—because there isn’t—but—just in case. Then I’ll be so attractive—even more than I am now, because I’m already quite attractive—I’ll be so attractive, men will flock to me. And when Peter sees all these other men wanting me, he’ll then want me too but I’ll reject him—ha!).
She lay on that spot on the floor and endured ten minutes of absolute agony—throughout which she attempted to pluck up the courage to begin using the tracksuit. She then raised her legs into the air—with much groaning and shuddering—and her feet kicked about wildly above her, like delirious hatchets massacring a roomful of imaginary people. She did this for fifteen whole seconds, then her legs dropped to the floor and she gasped alarmingly.

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