Have you seen Tim Cockburn?
This is a work of his, titled ‘Home’.
There is not much I want to say about ‘Home’.
One picture, two scenes. Or one scene, two pictures.
Joining and adjoining anyway.
Both together reveal the story. Without the other, ‘anyone’s guess’?
Will he get to sleep with her or be made to spend the night in the spare bedroom? Or on the living room couch?…
The bedroom – a woman reading a book, part of her night-time ritual, she reads a chapter each night, she makes herself do it, ‘for where is the time otherwise?’ or she gives herself to quarter-to-ten having retired to bed at half-past-nine for she is a creature of habit and an early riser is part of her relentless routine.
Or she reads until her eyes can no longer focus on the page, her mind drifting in-and-out of consciousness, the book flopping in her hands before she falls into sleep, the light left on, again…
But that never happens for usually her husband alongside her is reading his paper and whenever he espies his wife’s head beginning to nod he will always reach over and switch off her lamp and place the book on her bedstead.
Or her husband is asleep alongside her but asleep with the quote marks as an aura of ‘are you still reading?’ pervades the near-silence.
She has heard something – a creak on the landing but in any case such attempts at quiet on his part are in vain as she heard him minutes earlier in a drunken awkwardness of attempting to open the front-door, or was it the back as more discreet from the eyes of ‘neighbours’…The husband perhaps knows this too as a ritual of a Friday or Saturday night or rather Saturday or Sunday morning…but feels obliged to pretend considerate quiet anyway, as he had creaking his way slowly up the stairs minutes previous.
The pet dog is expectant too, but its enthusiasm for this (approaching) master tempered as it knows this ritual too and that its other(reproaching) master won’t be sharing it.
Or if not a ritual he saw the light on from their bedroom as far back as ten minutes earlier when walking home from his drunken night-on-the-town, his inebriation dulling his sense of time but not space, the window’s glow both reprimanding him and beckoning him home.
But I would know not that without sight of the landing. The wife’s wary doorward glance may have been a mother’s as she heard a creaking floorboard as a sneaking child passes by kitchen-bound… or it was the sound of her husband approaching her bedroom but who had just popped out to the bathroom, they having been mid-row, as much why the husband made his nocturnal visit to give himself composure and or new line of verbal attack, or rather defence.
And with just a view of the landing I would not even know if the husband was, as it were, coming or going. He could be sneaking out rather than in. A secret highland dancer. Or had been given permission by his wife to go out and make a night of it she having retired early for the night and so not wanting to disturb her. Or his wife was a fanatic not about nocturnal silence but household cleanliness, never to allow footwear upon her carpeted and uncarpeted floors that had ever trod outside.
I would not even know if the man is a husband!
But seeing both bedroom and landing together it is then clear that he is not just a husband but one returning home and late or at least beyond the hour he is expected. And that their West Highland Terrier is indeed right to temper its enthusiasm with some wariness.
But as I wrote at the start this is but a cursory look.