“Pass us the screwdriver, will you, love?” Barry shouted, waving his hand out from behind the washing machine.
Suzanne glanced at her phone and uncurled slowly from the sofa. She padded across the open-plan kitchen and stuck her head round the door of the laundry room.
“Which one?” She peered at the toolbox.
“The big Phillips one.”
She grabbed the biggest and thrust it at him.
“No, not that one, for Christ’s sake! The Phillips one, I said, with the blue handle.”
“All right. Don’t throw a wobbly.” She rolled her eyes and started walking back the way she had come.
“Sorry, love, it’s just that —”
She stopped by the polished granite work surface.
“Just that what?”
Barry emerged, wiping his hands on his dust and paint-covered weekend DIY dungarees.
“It’s just — sometimes I feel like I do everything round here. In the house. I mean I know you’re very busy and all… off working… most of the time — or whatever it is you’re doing — but —”
“What do you mean, whatever it is I’m doing?” Suzanne snapped. “Bringing in the bacon is what I’m doing! Not faffing around with washing machines.”
Barry’s face looked as if it had been slapped.
“I like to think I make my contribution,” he said, pulling himself up to his full height.
“Oh don’t look like that, for crying out loud, you know what I mean.”
“I may not be much to look at, but at least I’m an honest man.”
“What?” She widened her eyes.
“Which is more than can be said about some people round here.”
Suzanne leafed absently through a catalogue of domestic appliances that was lying on the table top.
“Like that Martin from your work, for example.”
She frowned. “What about Martin?” She looked up. “Are you feeling all right, love? You look a bit pale.”
Barry wiped his face with a rag to hide his trembling lip.
Suzanne’s phone buzzed in the other room.
“Well, that’s all right then, isn’t it?” she said, piercing the silence. “Tell you what, why don’t I make us both a cup of tea?” She went through to check her phone. “I was thinking we could get a new telly in the autumn, if you fancy,” she called brightly over her shoulder. “Unless you think you can fix the old one, that is.”
Sara Roberts has been writing stories for many years but only discovered flash fiction fairly recently. She lives in Oxford, UK, and helps run a writers’ blog called Cafe Aphra.
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