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I lift the iron from the fabric, place it on the side. Let it rest.

I fold the green shirt and stack it on the counter-top beside me. Beside his phone, which he just abandoned when he came in.

I take the red skirt from the pile, smooth it out. The iron seems to suck on it as I move it over the fabric, or is that because my arm is tired?


I look up at the clock. The kids will be home from school soon. Then I have to put on my smile. They can't know anything's wrong.

The kids.

I pick up a white school shirt. Hisssss.

My arm hurts.

I take a break and look at the hob. It's black and rusting but we have to cope. The ceiling is still stained yellow from where the last tenants were cooking drugs. I told the kids it was just water damage.

Need to fix that. Hisssss.

But at least the house doesn't smell like pot any more.

The kitchen door is open a crack and I can see the faded black sofa in our living room, the peeling roses on the walls that were here when we first moved in. We haven't got round to changing them yet. I can see him sitting on the chair, where he landed when he came in from his flight. He'd been in Hungary, negotiating the high-level deal. He's the one who went, but I'm the one they always contact.

That's how we do things now. I run the emails, he does the legwork. I can't take the risk like he can.

I could ask him if he needs his suit ironing for tomorrow, but he's asleep and he's still wearing it.

When he sleeps, he's peaceful. He looks like the man I married. The creases disappear and I can imagine that beneath those closed lids are the eyes that once shone with so much enthusiasm and life.

When he's sleeping, he forgets the shit we're in. And it's nice.

So I leave him.


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