art by Eleanor Bennett
by Cate Gardner
Walter's wife needed a hobby. In Walter's opinion, it was more of a want than a need, but he didn't dare argue the point. When Maeve needed something, she had to have it. After all, it was how they'd become a couple. She paced the living room, fingers working themselves into knots.
"Baking," Walter said. He had a fondness for cake.
Maeve shook her head. "I spend too much time in the kitchen already."
She didn't. Walter cooked their meals, washed the dishes, and polished the silverware.
"I just..." A little sexist, he supposed. "Car mechanics, welding, flamenco dancing, wood..."
"Now you're just being ridiculous."
"Wait," she said, tapping her finger to her chin. "Woodwork. I could fashion things into how they should be. I like that idea."
The gleam in her eye unnerved Walter. Still, what harm could a new hobby do? Whatever made her happy.
Maeve signed up for a woodworking course at the local college. Walter offered to attend the course with her, but she wanted to do it alone. Her independence gave him time to indulge in his own hobbies; except he didn't have a hobby.
On the evening of Maeve's third class, and at a loose end, Walter decided to meet his wife and walk her home. He envisioned romance and the holding of hands, although they hadn't practiced any such frivolities in years. He found Maeve in close conversation with her tutor, Gelato or Gepetto or Gestapo or something. Walter's chest tightened, pain spreading from lung to lung and down to his belly button. Taking a deep breath, he straightened his spine and pretended it was made of wood, not jelly.
"Oh, it's you."
Really. Really! She'd never greeted him that way before. He scowled. Or rather, he attempted to scowl. He wasn't very good at it. His reflection in the classroom window offered more of a sad smile. Maybe scowling could become his hobby. Stranger things and all that.
"I thought I'd walk you home."
"I was discussing with Gepetto the possibility of employing a second hobby that may tie-in with the first."
Gepetto (ridiculous name) placed his hand on Maeve's forearm.
"Or I might not," Maeve said.
"You take up as many hobbies as you wish, dear."
"I didn't. I mean... I'm sorry. I might take up a hobby myself. What is it you're thinking of doing?"
"Sorcery," Walter said, gulping. "As in swords and--"
"Without the swords."