The Uncomplaining Wife

Elspeth Marsden-Smith was fond of saying “You know I never complain.” Of course that was quite true, after all telling your marriage partner about the little problems of your life is different, sort of written into the contract.
John Marsden-Smith, pushed by his wife’s frequently expressed dislike of complaining, had left his comfortable niche in research and development and had risen too fast and too far. Thus to maintain the appearance of being on top of his work in office hours he was obliged to work evenings at home. At least ensconced behind his computer screen he felt somewhat protected from his wife’s voice which had grown shriller as the years passed.
John would let Elspeth’s latest batch of non complaints pass over his head and murmur, “Yes dear, I will contact the appropriate service when I get to work tomorrow.” knowing full well that the day’s dissatisfactions would be unlikely to need professional attention and would be replaced by others on the morrow. Occasionally Elspeth would fail to complain about the same event on two consecutive days and John would check the situation and actually secure a service to deal with the problem.
The evening that changed John’s life started normally, Elspeth greeted him with a quick duty peck on the cheek. It had hitherto been her practice to wait until after their meal before launching in to her tales of woe. That evening would prove to be different.
The first barrage of words was much the same as usual. “The autodine is set for your dinner, though what you will get I don’t know. Far be it for me to complain, after all I never said a word when it dished up rare steak when I clicked for medium rare. Not a syllable passed my lips when the automart sent me a dress a full centimetre longer than I asked for.” Off course it would never occur to Elspeth that she had made a mistake when entering the code. There was an ominous pause as Elspeth drew breath. When she commenced her voice was barely short of screaming pitch. “This time how ever, this time, those machines have gone too far. I’m not complaining mind you, but an autodine asked for a suckling pig should not, I repeat not, send a month old human baby. I mean, what does one do with a squalling infant?”
John had a feeling he could not deal with the situation in his usual manner. This was different, almost interesting. He inspected the nursery that previously Elspeth’s lack of complaint had kept empty. “Well, he’s a healthy, handsome enough little fellow, we could consider keeping him.”
“Indeed we could not!
“I was joking. I will contact the Child Services who will doubtless find out who he belongs to.”
“I have ordered a nanny android, I suppose that one should not complain that she has taken a considerable time to arrive. That infant probably needs feeding and it certainly needs cleaning.”
The Child Services regretted that there had been a rush of extra cases that day and there was no one available to help until the following afternoon. Elspeth reluctantly agreed that there was little choice but for them to accept the situation. The nanny android arrived and once it was settled in John and Elspeth sat down to a belated dinner. After just one mouthful Elspeth downed her knife and fork. “It’s no use I am too upset to eat. This has been a dreadful day, that nanny android is just the last straw. I ordered a grey haired, matronly type, so much more suitable for an infant. That blond creature, well it’s positively, well certainly not the thing! Mind you I am not complaining but I know I shall not sleep a wink tonight.” She regarded John’s sigh as one of sympathy, smirking inwardly with the satisfaction of having such an amenable husband.
John abandoned his meal and rose from the table. “That reminds me dear, I bought you a present and find I must have left it in the transporter. It is just what you need, a broach that emits a soothing electronic signal. It is the very latest design and is bound to help you sleep. As for the nanny android I’m sure we can get her changed, the company can have no excuse for not filling your order properly.”
John’s work bench in the garage was his great joy. He had told Elspeth that it was needed to maintain their transporter. She had complained that a person of his standing should not be concerned with anything as common as tools. He had however convinced her that transporter maintenance was the recreational choice of higher management. He was rather pleased with the broach he had made, jewellery design was not his forte but he thought he had achieved a pleasing look. Peering through a magnifier he used a fine tool to adjust the connections to the chips contained within the broach and sealed it shut. He had purchased a suitable box in which he placed the broach, as he wrapped it there was a blissful smile on his face as he anticipated the peace it would bring him.
The pair settled down respectively to computer and the latest craze of hand embroidery. Elspeth occasionally squinted sideways and down at the broach John had pinned to her blouse just a little too high for her to look at it comfortably. The catch seemed to be stuck , so she was about to ask John to adjust it when the door chimes announced the arrival of the android company’s collection robots. As Elspeth seemed to be having difficulty in moving John accepted and signed the tablet acknowledging that he was returning an android delivered earlier that evening.
The robots approached Elspeth who regarded them with considerable apprehension. “Really I wouldn’t think of complaining dear but surely these creatures can tell the difference between myself and a nanny android. They seem to have forgotten the replacement. John do something!” Her voice trailed off in to silence as the robots bore her away.
Johns moved his fingers rapidly over his key pad as he murmured, “Yes dear, I will contact the appropriate service when I get to work tomorrow.”


For several years I have enjoyed meeting with fellow poets and poetry lovers every other Monday at the Bear in Wantage. There we discuss both our own work and that of other poets both well known and obscure. Many of the poems in the category Wantage Poetry Club were first presented at the Club. That category dedicated to friends in the Club contains the poems which I have not as yet published in a collection.


Copyright © 2013 by Pamela Boal. The moral right of the author has been asserted. All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval systems, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

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