The music is loud, too loud for proper conversations.
Everyone is shouting to be heard while the band are trying to drown out all the chatter.
Background noise for a Saturday night in the local pub.
It’s just gone 11pm; she knows because she has been checking her watch every so often.
Counting down the minutes until closing time.
But first the lights will flicker above the bar, letting the pub patrons know it’s time for last orders.
Letting her know it’s time for her husband to get his last pint and the obligatory whiskey chaser.
God forbid he would miss getting that last drink.
She looks around at the group of people she is a part of.
His gang of friends.
Luckily tonight two of them have their partners with them so she has other women to talk with.
Usually she has to sit there feeling like a spare part while all the lads chat about football.
She could have stayed at home but she has learned that her husband doesn’t like it when she stays at home. He thinks she doesn’t like his friends then. They are his best friends and it is his only outlet after a hard week at work. The fact he saw them two nights previous because of some European football match doesn’t count because they could not chat during the match. And he could ‘not enjoy himself properly’ because he was at work the next morning.
She understands his need to go to the pub to see his friends. She gets to see her friends at work and sometimes in the local coffee shop on her days off, with the kids.
But she wishes they could do something else on their night out, rather than go to the local pub to meet with his friends. She couldn’t remember the last time they went to the cinema, or went for dinner together on their own.
No, this was it. Every Saturday night forever.
That thought makes her feel a little bit sick.
How is she going to continue doing this; smiling at the women who think they know her, or laughing with the lads who think her husband is so funny.
He is funny, always cracking jokes, or making fun of himself, or baffling them with his memory and statistics on football. He is their best friend. He is the good guy. He is the one who has survived a hard childhood. He is the one they turn to when they need a shoulder to cry on. He is the big softy in their group of childhood friends.
But they don’t have to help him up the road home drunk after the pub closes. They don’t have to listen to him argue with her about her friends or what she has or hasn’t done during the week. They don’t have to listen to the insults that he throws at her when she tries to defend what she has or hasn’t done during the week. They don’t have to listen to the name calling at 1am on the Sunday morning.
They don’t have to wake him at 2am after he has fallen asleep on the couch with a half eaten bag of chipper chips on his lap.
They don’t have to listen to him snore for the rest of the night, snoring that keeps her awake. They don’t have to listen to him the next day giving off about how she hasn’t kept the kids quiet enough while he tried to sleep in and sleep off his hangover.
They don’t have to put up with his hangover mood swings for the entire Sunday.
How long more can she do this?
She looks around at the group of people she is sitting with.
They are all laughing at something, she laughs along with them.
She has to or he will notice.