Turn the Oven Off

Story inspired by Tami Afta’s picture shown here

Outtake from the series “The Dog’s in the Car”, 2019
© British Journal of Photography

Pam had been married to Roger for over 25 years now and they had become what is mostly known as a typical old couple. They knew each other so well that they were usually able to guess what the other one was thinking before he or she even uttered the first word. This resulted in them actually no longer talking, as there was no more surprise or use to communicating really; everything had been said.

Their days were shared between morning walks with Tim their cocker spaniel. Pam would then cook something quick and simple and Roger would set the table then do the washing up. The afternoon was time for napping in front of television games and listening to the living-room coo-coo bird mark the hour between Roger’s snores coming from the living-room recliner.

The evening would creep up as they woke up from their afternoon nap and they would set up for another walk around the block with Tim. This again would be done in total silence as the day hadn’t been eventful enough to bring anything new to the conversation. Pam and Roger’s lives were as silent as living in a monastery and, if it wasn’t for the television blasting out its usual load of shallow entertainment, neighbours might have thought that the retired couple was dead and buried.

On a random ordinary Monday afternoon, something quite extraordinary happened that would change the couples’ life beyond their wildest dreams. As days turned into weeks then months, it had totally skipped their minds that the batteries of their TV remote control might need changing one day. On this particular Monday afternoon, the most unexpected happened. When Roger tried to turn off the TV from his recliner just when his show was over, he found it impossible to do so. Looking at his watch he still had at least a one-hour nap ahead of him. If he didn’t turned it off now, the show where idiots who couldn’t sing and tried to win money by participating in a karaoke would come on and wake him and Pam up for good. He pressed and pressed on the remote control but this trick well known of people trying to revive dead batteries unfortunately didn’t work and Roger found himself staring at the TV box, dreading that the karaoke show would come on any minute now. Pam twitched in her recliner and opened her eyes as a loud advert about constipation pills came on. She looked at Roger interrogatively and he answered her with a silent sorry expression and a shrug of his shoulders. She pointed at the screen, miming the remote control for him to turn it off but he mimed back that the remote control didn’t work anymore. A furious silent exchange picked up between them ending in Roger actually throwing the remote control against the wall which broke in a thousand pieces. The volume went right up, creating a most disruptive ambiance in a household that was so used to silence. The coo-coo in the corner stroke four but wasn’t heard for the first time in 5 years as his mechanic voice was covered by the sound of an ad for a washing machine.

The channels changed crazily and stopped on a cooking channel. As nobody wanted to get up, they were hostage for three hours of unstopped cooking lessons on how to cook a perfect soufflé in the oven.

Roger finally gave in when it came to Tim’s walking time and unplugged the television raggedly from the wall. Pam gave him the silent treatment and they both when out for a walk around the block, walking him in total silence, their ears still ringing from the cooking show.

The show had been a novelty in the couple’s life and, that night, Pam couldn’t stop thinking about the recipe. The next morning when she got up, she let Roger go out with the dog and went shopping for groceries. She came back in a hurry and tried the recipe. At first it wasn’t a success and the soufflé didn’t come out as expected. But practice makes perfect and Pam was not the kind of person to shy away from a challenge.

She no longer took part in their daily walks nor their afternoon televised naps. Cooking was her new thing and she no longer came out of the kitchen. Roger grunted when she came to bed in the evening but she ignored the noise, linking it to his usual snoring.

Breakfast had him grunting too and looking at her with an intense stare but Pam only cared for her soufflé and overlooked the heavy atmosphere that had crept over the house.

On Friday morning, Pam got up bright and early and set out to buy all the ingredients again after her many failed attempts. She would succeed eventually, this time maybe with salted buttered. As she walked out of the house, she spotted Roger coming out of the neighbour’s garden. He saw her and ran innocently back into their house, dragging poor Tim behind him who had barely finished peeing. Pam looked at the neighbours’ hedge and got the message.

Gaëlle

About writingbrussels

Seven Writers. Three Languages. One City.
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