This Wretched Heart

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She Fights

And she fights for her life as she puts on her coat and she fights for her life on the train.

Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie

Peter

He was relieved that Lara had come back . Her outburst had been unexpected but not unusual.

‘Sorry guys I think the wine took over there, I just needed some alone time.' She had been crying and he knew it had taken a lot for her to come back.They had spent the rest of the evening on a lighter note. He was relieved that Sam was such a nice guy and he hadn’t sensed anything strange about his behavior around Lara. He was sure he found his wife attractive but he didn’t sense any flirtation between them. He wasn’t going to be like Lara and ask her not to have friends of the opposite sex. It might do her good to get another male perspective in her life.

‘ So Peter, Lara tells me you have your own Bistro. That’s pretty impressive.'

‘ Yeah I guess.'Peter tried to be enthusiastic.

‘Well it was always your dream to open one.' Lara seemed annoyed at his lack luster response.

She seemed to think he should be the happiest most contented guy in the world. Just because he had opened his Bistro that his dreams stopped there. She didn’t seem to get the struggle he faced everyday just to break even. Not many people were treating themselves on a regular basis anymore so it was especially important to maintain high standards. He wanted the Bistro to be the go-to venue for when people did decide to treat themselves. He didn’t want to burden her with the frustration he felt daily as lunchtime customers opted just for soup and a glass of tap water. He and Joe would stand around helplessly as they had to ladle out yet another bowl of pre-made fodder. They were beginning to feel redundant in their own business for God’s sake !

‘ I’m sure it’s harder these days.' Even rich Sam seemed to get it. They moved on and the evening ended pleasantly with Peter promising Sam they would go to the next Tarantino movie together.As the door closed, Lara resumed her pout. She always did this. She would perk up when they had company but then renew her anger when they left. She never let him away with anything. His flippant remark hadn’t meant to hurt her. He was too drunk and tired to argue. They went to bed quietly and he lay on his side mulling over the business as he always did, while Lara snored gently.

We have got to cut costs!’ Joe’s crinkled face kept saying as they poured over the books. Peter refused to compromise on quality. If it was soup they wanted , he would make sure that theirs was the absolute best.When people were spending their money they wanted to do it with good reason , he and Joe would just have to find new ways of cutting down and inventive methods of drawing the crowds. It had been heartbreaking but they had let some of the waitresses go opting to take turns themselves on the floor. Admittedly he had felt a little humiliated , and muttered begrudgingly about having attended college for nothing however this sentiment had gradually faded. Being out on the floor , they both got the chance to properly gauge customers’ reactions. Service was always excellent because it was after all their business. They had even begun to have regulars again and though not the extravagant spenders of the good times they kept them ticking over. These were a new breed of frequenter , more humble than their wealthy predecessors. Often unemployed themselves they didn’t look down their noses at their waiters serving them their once a week coffee treat.He and Joe had also developed a reputation for being a breastfeeding friendly bistro. This was thanks to Joe’s keen eye for ‘Milfs’ as he put it .

’ Milfs? Peter had been lost.

‘ Jaysus you’ve been a relationship way too long -Mothers I’d like to fuck.’ He had explained ‘ They’re everywhere with the Baby boom and all that, great business to be had, plus they get their tits out for free.’ They had both guffawed over that one.

Despite the questionable motive however they had managed to become a ‘mother-baby group’ destination, which had brought their usual dead mornings back with a bang. Lara had suggested that they provide a basket of shawls for the discrete mothers or the cold ones but most of them seemed happy enough to let it all hang out.

‘Won’t they put off the other customers?' Lara sometimes had very old fashioned views of the world. Not that she minded she had assured him.

‘ If someone is that socially retarded, I’d rather they didn’t come to the Bistro.'

They had been asked to cater for various Christenings and children’s parties so even if customers were scared away by nursing women they more than made up for it in referred business.So when Lara said things like ‘At least you know what you’re doing with your life.’ He would tense up with irritation. No one knew anymore what life could bring , especially not him. Sometimes he wished for the simplicity of a nine-to-five job like Lara’s, where the money rolled into your bank account regardless of the season or weather. A job where turning up and doing the same thing over and over, day in and day out was enough to get a pay cheque. There was some comfort in being a small part of a larger organisation. Your moves were less perturbing to its existence. It could function without you , you were easily replaced. The weight of the company’s business was not on Lara’s shoulders.The fact that she had so much time to worry about life and the pursuit of happiness was evidence of this.

‘ Knock her up!’ Had been Joe’s solution to Lara’s recent episode of ennui ‘ She won’t have time to think with a babby at her tit.’

‘ Yeah that would really help things.’ He regretted what he said next ‘ Knowing my luck she’d probably get post-natal on me as well.’

‘ Ooh ouch mate that’s a bit harsh even for me !’

It was and he felt terrible.

‘ Look Peter, she can’t help it that she feels down from time to time , it’s the way she’s wired.’ Joe had playfully punched his arm.

Lying beside her, he suppressed the voice inside him that said that it wasn’t fair that no matter how she behaved, there was always an excuse to explain it. The voice that said just because she suffered from depression didn’t mean that he wasn’t allowed his portion of black. There was enough black to go around and for once he wished he could just wallow in it. Why had she fallen asleep in a huff just because he had made a flippant remark? This evening had been for her and her friend and yet one casual remark was enough to mar the whole thing. He shut his eyes and waited for sleep.

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