28th June

My Real Wife

‘Why do you keep writing about me?’ my wife asked. ‘My wife this, my wife that. I never asked to be in your stories.’

‘You’re not in them,’ I said.

‘Yes I am,’ she said, and pointed out a couple where the narrator talks about ‘my wife’.

‘That’s not you,’ I said.

‘You wrote the stories,’ she replied. ‘If it’s not me, who is it?’

‘The narrator isn’t necessarily me,’ I explained. ‘Just because the narrator writes in the first person doesn’t make him – or her – me.’

‘What do you mean “her”?’ my wife said. ‘How can a narrator who writes about “my wife” be female?’

‘It’s not impossible,’ I said, ‘although in my stories that situation hasn’t actually arisen as yet. You just have to use your imagination. You mustn’t be so literal. You have to forget the idea that the narrator and the author are the same person, and then the stories can be about anyone and anything at all.’

‘Even a woman who has a wife?’ she said.

‘Yes. We live in enlightened times,’ I told her.

‘You may think so,’ my wife said. ‘I think we’re living in an age of darkness.’

‘That’s something I also address in some stories,’ I said. ‘That possibility.’

‘It’s a racing certainty, if you ask me,’ she said. ‘Anyway, getting back to the point, I want you to keep me out of the public view. You make me look and sound stupid.’

‘I’ve already said,’ I explained, ‘that they are not about you.’

‘And why not?’ she demanded, changing tack. ‘What’s so wrong with me that you can’t write about me?’

‘Nothing is wrong with you,’ I said.

‘If you loved me you would write about me, and write nicely,’ she said.

Just then my real wife came into the room, bringing me a cup of coffee. She leaned over my shoulder and read what was on the screen. This is something I wish she wouldn’t do.

‘Is she bothering you again?’ she asked. ‘Tell the sad cow to leave you alone, or she’ll have me to answer to.’

‘It’s okay,’ I said. ‘I’m dealing with it.’

‘Well, deal with it,’ my real wife said.

Reader: Matthew Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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