Andy wriggled in his seat, stretching his legs, or trying to, in the cramped space that was Dress Circle. In his head he tried out phrases such as ‘Well, who’d have thought a Carstairs play would turn out to be this tedious!’ and ‘I’m happy to cut and run if you are!’ but one glance at Alison, leaning forward as far as possible and with eyes like saucers, told him that this was already a non-starter.

He grappled for a substitute. ‘I think my bleep just went off’ he hissed to Alison’s shoulder.

‘Ssssh!’ she hissed back. Then ‘How come? You’re not on call you said!’

‘Change of plan, Dave dropped out…’

‘I didn’t hear your bleep’

‘It’s on silent..’

‘I wish you were!’ someone spat from the row behind.

‘Sorry, it’s…’


‘I have to go’ Andy had no idea how to conclude this fabrication as he wasn’t on call, his bleep was at home and now he was surely in it up to HERE.

‘Go if you must; I’m staying’ Alison shot back, apparently aiming for sotto voce but delivering a grating growl instead and attracting even more irritated glares from their plush seated neighbours.

‘But you’ve got the car!’ That was close to a wail. Suddenly the consequences of his deception were revealing themselves to Andy in all their stark defeat. Walking home in the rain. No late meal at the Indian. And probably no sex either. Make that definitely no sex either. All because he couldn’t sit through a poxy Carstairs play!

Well, he’d burned his boats now. At least if Alison was staying, he wouldn’t have to try to fool her into thinking his phone was the hospital bleeper. He tried for a martyred self sacrificing expression as he began his climb of shame along the row towards the exit but Alison wasn’t looking, she was back in full-on, Carstairs pretentious up-his-own-backside land with just a hint of hacked-off bristle along her shoulders.

Andy escaped into the night. Look on the bright side, he thought, it was a good thing he’d found out about this just three dates in and not after a whole lot of expensive personal and material investment. No sex was that good! He probed for his wallet and headed for the pub.

©suzanne conboy-hill 2009

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