Tonight I’m cooking Atlantic salmon and preparing a mixed green salad. Jane’s trying to lose weight again, so there won’t be a dessert. The sacrifices we make for the ones we love.
She’s gone into the sitting room to meditate while I get things ready. Twenty minutes should be more than enough time. I pour myself a cold white wine. At least I can enjoy a glass without feeling guilty. Jane stopped drinking years ago. Been a real benefit, when you think about it. Bloody nanny state reckons you can’t drive when your blood alcohol reading is only 0.05. Anyway, once Jane decided she wasn’t drinking that was one less problem I had to worry about.
Of course, there is a downside. There always is. When we have a good night out and I have a few reds, she’s cold sober, so I get to sleep in the spare room. Apparently, a sober wife can hear you snoring.
It might be the wine, but when she joins me at the table I decide to raise something that’s been on my mind for the last couple of months.
‘Jane, I’m thinking about retiring.’
‘I wondered when you’d bring that up.’
Seems a bloke can’t keep a secret even when he’s trying. ‘Well, it feels like things are over at work, and I’m not just talking about the project.’
‘Can we afford for you to retire?’
Typical question. She really has no idea about our finances or how any of that stuff works. I could say anything but elect to go with the truth, as I know it.
‘I’ve spoken to the superannuation people. I’ll be sixty next month. If I wait until then, my super pension will be tax free. When you do the sums, the difference in my take home pay will only be a couple of hundred dollars a month.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘I got them to do an estimate for me.’
Jane finishes her salmon and wipes the salad dressing from her plate using her fingers. I guess when you’re on a diet everything on the plate is attractive.
‘I’m not ready to retire yet.’
‘I’m not saying you have to retire. I’m saying I want to retire.’
‘What will you do? I don’t want you doing what my father did. You know, retire, paint the house, go on an overseas holiday and drop dead. Mum still hasn’t forgiven him.’
‘That’s not the plan. To start with, if anybody is going to paint this house it certainly won’t be me. In fact, I’d like to sell it and move over to Somerton Park or Brighton, so we can be by the sea.’
‘That would be nice. Do you think we could afford a house over there?’
‘It’s something we could look into. At least we’ve paid this one off.’
She gives me one of her I’ve got stuff to do looks and stands from the table. ‘I’m sorry, honey, but I have work to do. All that time I lost dealing with bloody Oliver Dunbar. I’ve got a thousand things on my list. Perhaps we can talk about this on the weekend.’
I watch her disappear through the doorway that leads to the room she uses as her home office, and decide that didn’t go too badly. I clean up the kitchen, stack the dishwasher, top up my wine glass and settle in for a night of TV.
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