William Hague, Apparently

‘Appalling,’ muttered George as he ran his red pen liberally across the paper. His cheeks wobbled on their bones.

‘Not good, dear?’ Louise called from the hallway, where she looked at herself in the mirror.

‘That’s the understatement of the century,’ George offered back distractedly. ‘Who became King of England in 1066? William Hague, apparently!’

Louise smiled to herself. She took a long breath and checked the ribbon around her waist. She pulled the collar of her robe out slightly and looked down. ‘Not bad for fifty,’ she thought.

‘Who was Bill Clinton’s vice president?’ George announced into the air. ‘Al bloody Capone! Well, I suppose there’s some satirical merit in that, if only it were intended.’

Louise chose to react in silence as she carried the tumbler and its yellow contents into the room and lay them on the table by her husband. It was from a fresh bottle of the whisky her father had given to George as a wedding gift, bought earlier that week. Next to the glass, she dropped a bowl of roast peanuts, George’s favourite combination.

‘There you go,’ she smiled.

‘Thank you,’ George mumbled, looking up only enough to see the gifts and not the giver.

Louise took a few steps back and perched herself on the edge of the table. She waited for her husband to see her.

‘Just… appalling,’ he repeated after moving to a new sheet of paper. ‘This one has described the Hindenburg as a damn hot air balloon! I swear these kids are going to drive me to a breakdown.

Louise giggled warmly before letting out a long low sigh. She leant forward to the point she knew her robe would hang enough to give George a direct view inside, she let her hand run across the top of her bare thigh as she did.

George grabbed a handful of nuts. He managed to get some into his mouth but wasn’t paying enough attention and several fell to the floor. He reached for the whisky, trying to feel for it rather than look up from his work. Louise gently nudged it into his reach, making sure to lightly brush his fingers where they met the glass. He swigged and swallowed, sending himself into a cough. Louise was sure she heard him wheeze the word ‘appalling’ again as his eyes continued to run over the words in front of him.

After waiting for him to settle, Louise lifted herself into a standing position.

‘Perhaps you should call it a night?’ Louise pulled at her ribbon as she spoke in breathy tones,. The knot fell away and her robe tumbled to the floor, leaving her naked in the lamplight of the room.

George tutted to himself and scratched another mark into the paper with the pen she’d bought him for their last anniversary. Louise waited a few moments before offering a faint cough.

‘What was that?’ George reacted half-alert.

‘Come to bed?’

‘Uh? Yes, yes. Don’t let me keep you up.’

The naked woman waited.

‘It’s absolutely appalling…’ he mumbled a final time, shaking his head.

‘Yes,’ Louise said to the space between them as she gathered her robe and left the room. Passing through the kitchen, she grabbed a bottle of red as she headed to the bedroom alone. ‘Appalling.’