“I only came in for a bloody cup of tea” he spat out, his eyes blazing.
She’d heard about this white anger, from his wife, but she’d never seen it before. He was banging a cup down onto a saucer to the extent that it was a wonder they did not break. The famous “Indian Tree” cup and saucer. All the pots matched in that house. Bought by his wife from the local market. She always found it odd that someone of such means and such stature should purchase her pottery from a market. Some of them were a little misshapen and the cups did not quite fit the saucers properly and so the cup wobbled around whilst tea was being poured into it. But then there were many odd things about this place. Like the way he strode down the hallway from the Study to the kitchen, announcing loudly to his wife,
“We’ve decided that having affairs is O.K.”
“Oh, have you darling,” his wife replied from the kitchen.
They had decided no such thing. They had had a conversation in his Study in which he had put forward forcefully his opinion that having an affair could save a marriage because it kept it fresh. She had kept quiet on the subject. He took this as acquiescence.
His anger rose as he boiled the kettle and made the tea. His wife, Diana, sat there at the kitchen table silently and calmly peeling an apple, cutting it into pieces and putting them one by one into her mouth. Her eyes were expressionless. She knew her place. She looked almost like a little girl.
Suddenly, he marched across to Sally, eyes still blazing, pointed his finger repeatedly at her, bawling, “I AM UNDER PRESSURE. I AM UNDER PRESSURE,” emphasising each word as he said it. Followed by,
“So NOW YOU KNOW.”
Sally was startled. He had always been kind and gentle to her before, as she had talked to him about her father’s death, and the grief that she felt. In fact he had encouraged her to join them and become almost part of the family, telling her that this would help to assuage her grief. New to the area, and with a husband who was never there, Sally was easily drawn in.
As he pointed his finger aggressively at her, she felt a stab of fear. She thought he was going to hit her. She reached out to him with her hand, and put it into his saying, “Stephen, Stephen,” in an effort to calm him. He withdrew his hand roughly, and walked quickly to the patio windows in the dining room, and stood looking out at the garden. His eyes were still wild. Sally had followed him into the dining room, and suddenly she heard the chilling words, “I dug a grave once, out there amongst the trees.”
He swung round, looked her straight in the eye and spat out,
“How dare you come here and DISRUPT our lives.”
He started to pull at the strip of white piety around his neck, saying, “I’ve got to go and write my Sermon for tomorrow. It’s Good Friday.”