Dominoes, Marital Misgivings & Lunch

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Avianna watched as Max and his friend, Karl played dominoes. They were laughing and drinking. It had been a while since they had seen each other so they had a lot of catching up to do. Karl was a retired surgeon and had been Max’s mentor and friend for years. Karl had known Max since he was a boy. They were from . Karl knew Max’s parents. Max was like a son to him and he was there for him when his own father died.

Karl was a widower with two children. His son, Henrich was a lawyer and his daughter, Elsa was a primary school teacher. Both were married with children. Henrich and his family lived in Berlin while Elsa and her family lived in Frankfurt. They visited their father in the summer and at Christmas. He lived in a flat in Kensington and volunteered at a homeless men’s shelter.

When Max and he had kept in touch via email and periodically by phone while he and Avianna were living in Johannesburg. Karl had been thrilled when Max had told him that they were moving to London. It was Karl who had picked them up from Heathrow and brought them home. He had stayed for a while and then, had left so that they could get settled in their new home. He promised to visit as often as he could.

Avianna was happy to see him because lately, she had been worrying that Max had been spending too much time with Jabulani. She understood that he wanted the girl to feel as much at home in London as possible but she felt that it would be better for the girl to make friends with the other students and spend time with them. She needed to be with people her own age.

Last night as they were getting ready for bed, he had informed her, “Oh, before I forget, I’m taking Jabulani to one of those West End shows this Saturday evening.”

“Darling, don’t you think you are spending too much time with her?”

He had looked at her. “Do you think I am?”

“Yes, I do.”

“You’re right, I have been spending a lot of time with her. It’s just that I feel responsible for her.”

“You mean because you’re her sponsor?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I can understand that you feel you must babysit her because she’s new to the country but, I think that once she has made friends at the university, she could spend more time with them. They can take her out.”

Max hadn’t answered. Instead, he had changed the subject. “You remember Karl, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, he telephoned me yesterday and we had a long chat. I invited him to have lunch with us tomorrow. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t mind at all.”

Max had turned back the covers and climbed into the bed. She got in beside him after turning off the lights. Max kissed her on the cheek. “Good night,” he said.

“Good night.” She lay there looking at him as he lay on his back with his face turned away from her. A kiss on the cheek. As she thought about it, it occurred to her that it had been a while since they last made love. They hardly went to bed at the same time and when they did, he merely kissed her and then, settled down to sleep.

She wondered if she should make a move. The last time she had done that, he had told her rather apologetically that he was very tired. What if he said the same thing this time. She turned on her side with her back turned to him. It was a long time before she drifted off to sleep.

Now, as she stood there watching him so relaxed with his friend, she wondered if he had lost interest in her. Did he no longer find her desirable? She wanted to ask him about it but was afraid of his answer. She was afraid that he would confirm her fears.

After Alan died, she never thought she would get married again but that was until she met Max. He was handsome, charming and ten years younger than she. They immediately hit it off and by the time he proposed, she was deeply in love with him. Theirs had been a happy, easy going marriage. They got along so well. They were not just husband and wife, they were friends too–good friends. There were times when she wished she could have given Max at least one child but when they got married, she was 47. She didn’t want to take any chances and so the idea of having children was never entertained. They had each other and their careers.

Lately, though, she felt as if something had changed between them and it scared her.

“What’s the matter, Dear?”

Max’s question startled her. Pulling herself together, she quickly assured him, “Nothing’s the matter. “Lunch is ready.”

Karl smiled at her. “I can’t wait,” he said. “Max has told me what a terrific cook you are.”

Avianna smiled. “It’s one of the things I enjoy doing.” It pleased her that Max had told his friend that she was a terrific cook.

The two men stood up and followed her to the dining-room. Karl sat down while Max helped Avianna in the kitchen. When they were all sitting at the table, Max said a prayer and then, they tucked into the steaming hot Cape Malay curry. “This is outstanding,” Karl exclaimed.

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“Thank you,” Avianna said. She glanced at Max who nodded in agreement. His smile was one of deep appreciation.

For dessert, they had Melktert which was similar to the British custard tart. Afterwards, the men went into the living-room to resume their game of Dominoes while Avianna made coffee. She wished Max didn’t have to go out tomorrow evening to that West End show with Jabulani. She would have liked him to stay home and spend the evening with her instead. They could find lots of interesting things to do together.

Perhaps, she could persuade him to encourage Jabulani to go to the show with someone else. Surely, there was a least one other person she could go with. Yes, she was going to suggest that to Max when they were alone.

Feeling better and hopeful that she could get Max to change his mind about tomorrow evening, she placed the cups of coffee on a tray and took them to the men.

Source: BBC Good Food

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