The Other Side was the most popular story I shared in 2021. Each chapter earned more page views than any other story or book review or...anything, by a lot. And of these chapters, the most popular were those about Becky and Mara. And so... To celebrate and in gratitude, I share...
This scene takes place when Mara and Owen are still living in Becky and Tom's basement apartment.
The Other Side
The basement grew smaller and smaller. The pile of magazines and newspapers encircling the futon increased in size every day. A collection of dirty dishes overran the counter.
"This place is beginning to look like a pigsty," I spat, to myself--but loud enough for Owen to hear, even through his office door.
The door opened and he came out.
"You keep your office so clean and tidy but..."
He started to hum. Hadn't he heard me?
With a louder voice, I asked, "Owen, don't you think it's time to wash the dishes?"
I fought hard to stay calm. "It's not my job. We agreed that whoever works at home would do the housework."
"Well, you're not working today. It's Sunday. See you later," he called from the stairs, "I'm going to the park with Tom and Rusty."
"Fine, the dishes will still be here, waiting for you," I muttered.
I kicked my way through the clutter to the futon. I shoved a pile of laundry--dirty or clean-- off the futon and unearthed my paperback. The book worked magic and took me far away from the mess.
My reading was disturbed by repeated knocking. Not waiting for an answer, Becky burst into our apartment. "Now that the boys are gone, I thought us girls should have a chat."
"No, I'd like to..." I held up my book.
"It's been so nice and sunny lately. I hope it continues. I love to hang the laundry out on the line on a sunny day. It gives the clothes such a fresh smell. Do you like to do housework?"
"Hmm, well... There's just other things that..."
"You don't." She sniffed at the dishes on the counter and made a face. "I can tell. Soon you'll have rats."
Unkind words popped into my head, I'm staring at one right now. It was very unlike me to have such thoughts and I shoved them out of my head. "Owen does the housework."
"Owen? Owen's a man. Just because you don't like to work doesn't mean you should force your responsibilities on poor Owen." She frowned at me. "Men simply aren't cut out for women's work."
"Owen and I agreed that whoever worked from home would--."
"Owen works so hard to keep a roof over your head." She glared at me. "I would think the least you can do is a few dishes. You do want to continue to have a happy marriage, don't you?"
What did she know that I didn't? "Did Owen say something to Tom...?" Worry drove me off the futon and to the counter. I organized the dishes and turned on the tap.
"I'm sure you'll feel much better once the dishes are done and after you've cleaned up a little." As I continued to work, I heard her footsteps on the stairs.
Encouraged by the popularity of The Other Side, I plan to share a few longer stories in 2022.