We sit in the lounge room. Me on one end, near the fire, and him on the couch. I’m typing, typing and then quiet, as I read. His mouse button clicks like a threatened gecko and I tense. Do you have to play that so much? I ask. He doesn’t hear me. Staring at the screen, his only response is to let off another round of clicks. Do you have to …? I repeat, tersely. He looks up, barely aware that I’ve spoken, and runs his hands through his hair, back and forth. It looks like he’s had a touch of electricity and I consider telling him this, but refrain. The clicking resumes.
I try and focus on reading something about Art Deco bone china, endless tabs open on my computer, but all I can hear is that incessant click/click/click, freaking click. My nose trembles. My eyebrows rise. It’s 1:43 a.m. and in the next room the bed lies empty and wallowing. The cat curled around me moves, slinky and languid. She stretches, reminding me that I haven’t, drawing my attention down to the ache in my crossed legs. My foot has become an unfeeling block. I stab it with my finger nail, but nothing – this is somehow his fault.
The cat moves towards the door with all the grace of a dancer, then quivers on the threshold, sniffing the suspicious air beyond. She looks back; then when another bout of furious clicking takes hold of him she does a convulsive sideways kick and launches herself across the lounge-room doorway and into the hall. I glance over, but he doesn’t look up. My toes flex as I move the muscles and bones in circular motions, wrinkling the skin into slight folds. Feeling begins to flow back into my foot through tight, buzzing coils.
I slam the laptop screen shut and glare at him as my leg goes weak with the flow of blood making its way into the previously blocked corridors of my arteries. Click. Click. Freaking click. His eyes never leave the screen. I rise from the un-vacuumed carpet, thick with the fur of many nights like this. Do you want a tea, I say to him – twice. He responds the second time with a half-focused answer that I know means he hasn’t heard me.
I stagger towards the brink of the lounge room doorway and the hall – that strange space that cats instinctively know belongs to a dangerous, and not to be trusted, third dimension. The last coils of pain let me go and I straighten up to the sound of clicking. It follows me into the kitchen, where I turn on the kettle and wait to hear the slow, deep rumble of the water. My eyes are unsettled, unfocused … until I see the blinking blue light of the Wi-Fi connection.