How are you?
I’m good. You?
Good, good. Yeah.
Been up to much?
Not really. How are things up there?
It’s getting warmer. The orchard is coming into bloom. It’s really beautiful. How’s the weather where you are?
Same as always. Cold. Miserable. You wouldn’t like it.
I guess not.
How’s your mother?
Same as always. She asks after you, by the way. Hopes you’re well.
Why do you always have to think the worst of her?
Did she really say that?
Your fingers are crossed.
You just uncrossed them, didn’t you?
You can’t see me.
I don’t need to.
I… wish I could see you.
You’re the one who left, Sephy.
That’s not fair.
It’s just a fact.
You know why I had to leave. You know what my mother’s like when I’m not around. She needs me here right now.
So she says.
There you go again. She’s your mother-in-law as well as my mother, you know? Can’t you at least try to make an effort with her? What do you have against her?
I just think that she’s manipulating you. She knows you’re too nice to say no.
That’s ridiculous. Not everyone’s family hates each other, you know.
But she hates me. The way she talks about us, she’d have everyone believe that I kidnapped you or something equally ludicrous.
She’s just a lonely, old woman. Maybe if you came to visit her she would-
-you know I can’t. I have work.
You always have work.
Well, you know what they say. The only certain things in life and all...
Yeah, yeah. Still. Even the taxman deserves a holiday on occasion. Surely you can take leave too?
This place can’t run when I’m not here. Believe me. I’ve tried to get away before. Long haul just isn’t feasible.
Not even for a day?
Not even for me?
...I’m sorry. It’s just not possible.
Well… I have to be out here.
You’re not holding it against me or anything?
Of course not.
The dog is fine. Looking a little less round now that there’s no one about the place spoiling him.
But a good boy deserves to be spoiled. Is he there? Can I speak to him?
You rang for the dog, didn’t you?
I mean… not entirely. You’re ok too.
High praise indeed.
I was being sarcastic.
Really? It’s so hard to tell.
So is he there?
That’s weird. I can’t hear him. I swear that dog’s snores could trigger an earthquake.
Well, he’s had an eventful day. Must be well away.
Do you think he can hear my voice?
What’s he doing?
I told you. He’s sleeping.
Describe it for me! I need details!
He’s… a dog, ok? And he’s asleep. He’s curled up in that bed you bought him for his birthday and sometimes his paws twitch. Like he’s chasing ghosts. He forgets he’s bigger now, so he’s hanging like… sixty percent out of the bed. His tail keeps thumping on the rug. That’s it. Was that ok?
That was pretty good. Now go tickle his belly for me.
He does not want his belly tickling.
Of course he does. He loves it when I do it.
It’ll wake him up.
Good. Then I can talk to him. He’ll want to hear his Mummy’s voice.
I… am not going to do that.
Because I… am still at the office.
Is with the dog sitter. I’ll pick him up when I leave.
Oh. Ok. I see.
You keep telling me to spend less time at work. I didn’t want you to bite my ear off about it again.
Is... someone else there?
There might be a few still about. I don’t know. I don’t keep tabs on everyone.
I mean is there... someone else?
When I’m not around... is there someone else? Is that why you haven’t chased me? Why you don’t seem to want me back any time soon?
Why would you think that?
Well, just look at your brother-
-don’t bring him into this. We’re nothing alike.
Fine. But you’re not denying it.
I shouldn’t have to. Where has this come from?
You're being so weird. I can’t read you any more. I can’t see your face and you just have this tone and it’s just… dead. I can’t form a picture of you. It’s like… I don’t know who you are any more. All I know is that my mother needs me. And I’m not convinced that you do.
Our relationship isn’t an obligation.
What the hell does that mean?
Whether I need you or not doesn’t come into it. We don’t owe each other anything. I don’t love you out of a sense that you would cease to function if I didn’t.
But do you? Love me, that is?
...don’t make me say it.
I’m not making you do anything.
If I say it now it won’t mean anything.
But I need to hear you say it. I need you to tell me.
Are we breaking up?
We are, aren’t we?
Is that what you want?
It’s not about what I want right now. I am asking you. You’re just going to let me leave again, aren’t you? Aren’t you going to fight for this? For us?
...I wasn’t aware that we were a war that had to be won.
Maybe. Maybe that’s what marriage is. Every single day you have to fight just a little bit harder to stay together.
That’s not the kind of marriage I want.
Then what do you want? Do you even want to be together?
I want you to be with your mother.
So you don’t want to see me?
Look... I don’t need to see you, understand?
I think I’m starting to.
No. I don’t need to see you, because I can always picture exactly what you look like. I know exactly how your legs are curled up under you as we talk. I know the lines that appear around your eyes when you laugh, the exact shade of red you turn when you blush. When I go home, all I see are the spaces where you should be and the dog who keeps moping because his favourite person is missing. I spoil him rotten hoping he might look at me the way he looks at you and then I lie about it when you call. I stay at the office until late so I won’t notice how empty the place is without you in it. I don’t need you, Sephy. I just want you. But what I want most is for you to be happy. If you have to go away for half the year for that to happen, so be it. I know you have things to take care of, things you would regret not doing. I might not like your mother, but if this is what you need to do... so be it. You have your duties and I have mine. I can wait. As long as I know you’ll be coming home… I can wait.
...I want to come home.
It’s not time yet.
How long has it been?
Roughly? Six weeks, four days and nine hours.
No. Longer now.
Summer will be here before you know it.
The dog will probably be spherical by then.
Well, next time you’ll have to put him on the call.
Fine. But I draw the line at rubbing his belly. He’s meant to be a guard dog.
He couldn’t scare a fly.
You are literally the only person who could pet him like that and come away with both hands.
I don't know what you're talking about. He's just a big softie really.
You... know there's no one else, don’t you?
So... I’ll see you soon?
Yes. When summer ends. I’ll be home.
I’ll see you then.