An Overheard Conversation
By Charlotte Howard
Click. Click-click-click. Click.
“Graham?” Sally hung her coat on the rack by the front door. She dropped her keys onto the coffee table alongside her handbag. “Graham? Are you home?” The cat purred and rubbed itself against the soft satin of her tights. Sally bent down, scooping the creature into her arms, and pressed her nose into his furry head before letting him jump back to the ground. She kicked off her shoes, adding them to the pile that grew and blocked the cupboard under the stairs. Leaning on the wooden rail, she tilted her to the ceiling and strained to hear any sounds.
Sally smiled to herself, and tip-toed towards the spare room. She stood in the doorframe, and watched as her husband continued to work. A heavy thump came from beneath the headphones that were glued to his ears. Sally walked over, and removed one. Graham spun around, eyes wide.
“Jeez… Sorry love. I didn’t hear you come in.” He looked at his watch. “You’re home early.”
Sally grinned and pressed her lips to the scratchy stubble of his cheek. “Oh Greg sent me to a meeting and it finished early. How’s it going?” she asked, scanning over the screen and not understanding a single word.
“Not bad. A client wants their website updating before this evening, so…”
“So you’re hiding away in your cave, and I will be an HTML-widow for the rest of the day.” She said it with a slight laugh, used to her husband choosing work over her. “I suppose it could be worse.”
Graham turned back to the screen. “Hmm?”
“You could be at the pub all night, or watching football,” she said, walking into their bedroom.
“Sorry what was that?”
“Nothing, love,” she called back, as she drew the curtains against the dying sun and the harsh orange light that forced its way through the clouds. She stripped out of her white blouse and knee-length black skirt, dumping them in the laundry basket in the corner of the room.
“Greg sent you to a meeting?” Graham asked, sneaking up behind and placing a kiss on the bare skin of her shoulder. “That’s a good sign isn’t it?”
“He had one with a client at lunch and it ran over, so he asked me to cover the one with the supplier.” She twisted around to face him, lifting a hand and sweeping her fingers through his dark brown curls. “You need a haircut,” she murmured, and pressed her lips to his. “I did overhear something today.”
“Yeah?” He wrapped his arms around her waist and they swayed from side-to-side.
“The girls at work were talking.”
“Girls tend to do that.”
Sally batted at his chest. “You know what I mean.” She pulled away from his grip, and walked over to her set of chest of drawers. Bending to the bottom one, she opened it up and took out a baggy T-shirt, tugging it over her head. She stared in the mirror for a while, and ran her fingers through her shoulder-length blonde hair. “They said that Greg was looking for someone to promote as his assistant.” She bit her bottom lip and turned to face him. “Do you think I’m in with a chance?”
“Of course you are love.”
Sally sat on the edge of the bed. She rolled down her tights and flung them so that they landed in a ball, on top of the blouse and skirt. “Do you think?”
“Yeah…” He knelt behind her and pressed his thumbs into the knotted muscles of her shoulders, circling and rubbing until she was moaning with delight. “He sent you to that meeting didn’t he?”
“Uh huh.” Sally closed her eyes and tilted her head up, groaning as Graham continued the massage. “There’s rumours of a takeover.”
“Yeah. Greg’s being going to loads of lunch meetings just recently, and been really secretive. Head Office have been in too. Rachel thought that he was being fired, but he was in this morning, so Tamsin said it was probably a takeover or something.” She stopped and twisted to face him. “Do you think he might be getting a promotion and moving to HO? Perhaps… Oh don’t stop… Mmm… Perhaps they’re looking for someone to replace him. Oh wow. Can you imagine if I got Greg’s job?”
“That would be great.” He kissed each spot where his hands had been. “I need to finish work.”
“Sadist,” she teased, and stood up. Graham disappeared into the spare room. Sally breathed out a frustrated sigh. Ever since he’d left his job, he’d spent his whole time buried under a mass of wires and USB drives. It hadn’t been all that bad though. He’d picked up some freelance work as a web designer, and was much happier than he’d been working from someone else. And he wasn’t seeing her every single day anymore. But the regular paycheque had been sorely missed.
Sally opened her wardrobe doors and ran her fingers over the different fabrics until she found a pair of comfy yoga pants. “What do you want for dinner?” she called as she pulled the pants on. She scraped her hair into a messy bun, and checked out her reflection. Even dressed in what she referred to as ‘scruffs’, she was still looked pretty damn amazing.
“Oh I don’t mind…”
Sally leaned around the doorframe to watch her husband as he continued to work. “Takeaway?”
“Erm… yeah. Sure. Why not? Do you mind if I just…” He let his sentence trail, and gestured towards the screen.
“Yeah.” Sally exhaled a nasal breath. “Of course. Sorry.” She headed downstairs, and grabbed her phone, ready to text her best-friend about the frustrations of out-of-work husbands and overheard conversations. She sank onto the sofa.
Clatter. Bang. Clatter.
“Everything okay?” she called up.
“Yeah,” Graham called back down. “Bloody cat sent everything flying.”
Sally frowned, and stroked the animal laying on her lap.
“Be quiet,” Graham hushed, peering out of the bedroom door. “She’ll bleeding well hear you. I’m sorry, okay, I didn’t know she would be home so soon. I thought she was working late again.” He pressed a finger to his lips.
“Are you sure?” Sally called.
“She’s in the living room. If you’re quiet, and quick, you can make it out the front door. I’ll… I’ll distract her.” Graham walked down the stairs and into the front room. “Cup of tea?” he asked his wife.
“Please.” Her forehead wrinkled, her eyes narrowed. “What was all that noise?”
“I told you,” he said. “The…” He looked down at the animal that she was stroking. “Cat… Shit. Sally, it’s not what you–”
“It’s her again, isn’t it?” The cat hissed as it was shoved to the ground. “Jeez… Graham, I thought we were over this. You promised. You said…” Sally pushed past Graham and stopped dead in the hallway.
“Sally, please. I can explain. I–”
Sally stared ahead. “Greg.”
My career as a writer started when I was young, writing poetry and flash fiction for my friends and family. After a few minor successes of having pieces published in anthologies, and later on-line, I decided to have a go at writing a full-length novel. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster, but after years of practice, I finally got that coveted First Contract. Since then, I’ve written several more novels and short stories, and I don’t intend to retire for at least another 50 years.
Charlotte lives in Somerset with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets and can always be found with a cup of tea in her hand. When she’s not writing or running around after small people and animals, she loves to eat curry and watch action films.
Charlotte is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, and an active (and vocal) member of the Yeovil Creative Writers.