In twenty years of marriage they had never exchanged an angry word.
The occasional cross sentence, yes. Frequent angry paragraphs, perhaps: the semi-regular educational pamphlets on painful bodily insertions it was true. But an angry word: never
That was until she came back from the portrait sessions pregnant, which at least explained the unusual smile that the artist had captured.
At first he had put it down to a particularly odd batch of mushroom soup that they had found in a small takeaway in Little Italy and it was true that they had both been bloated and shapeless for a couple of weeks after and it was many months before the magical tap-dancing aardvarks stopped appearing to him every night, but eventually it had to be conceded, no matter how charitable he might be, that his wife was well and truly, to put it in common parlance, “up the duff”
This considering that they had long ago decided that the key to a happy relationship, sans angry words, was separate rooms at opposite ends of a very large house: was something of a revelation
The artist, of course, denied everything: pretending to be in love with some chap called David until it was pointed out to him that he was a painter and not a sculptor. One spectator to the event would later claim that the language in the small enclosure of the artist’s rooms had been enough to turn the cheeks of even the coarsest sailor bright pink, but the fact remained that he was now forced to live with a painting that would forever show his wife in mid-term with someone else’s child.
Of course he would never have admitted that the child was anyone else’s but his, not even with one hand tied behind his back, but he took solace in one tiny fact
‘There is a tiny happy ending’ he said to his wife, sometime after the painting was complete, ‘the painting is somewhat small, and you have a funny smile: I doubt very much that anyone will ever want to look at it”