I faintly heard a door slam somewhere in the house and winced involuntarily.

‘Honey?’ I called out into the darkness of the house. The cat, who had been sitting on my knee, bolted away.

‘Traitor,’ I hissed under my breath at it. The kitchen light clicked on, and I almost yelped.

‘The glass is cleaned up, then?’ my wife asked me from the doorway.

‘You didn’t pass it when you came in?’

‘I came in the back,’ she said sharply. ‘I didn’t want to see my lovely balustrade destroyed like that again.’

‘Sweetheart, if I may—’

She shut me up with a look. No sweetheart; got it.

         ‘Vanessa,’ I tried again, meekly. She didn’t contest that.

Phew. Still on a first name basis then.

‘Vanessa, it’s just a simple bit of glass. I have a buddy who knows loads of companies that do commercial glazing, he should be able to hook us up with a deal.’

‘I don’t care about the money,’ she snapped back at me.

‘Oh,’ I frowned, floundering. ‘What is it then?’

‘It’s that we keep doing this, over and over again!’

‘This?’ I asked, confused. ‘But this is only the second time I’ve broken the balustrade—’

‘I don’t care what happened to the glass balustrade! Melbourne is full of stupid husbands breaking expensive things!’ she yelled.

‘Okay, okay, calm down—’ I started, rising to my feet and speaking softly.

‘I’m not going to just calm down, Julian!’ she said. Even so, her hands curled into fists and her breathing became longer and deeper.

‘I’m so mad at you,’ she said eventually. ‘All the time!’

‘Okay,’ I mumbled. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘I don’t need you to be sorry,’ she frowned. ‘You’re always sorry. I need you to be better. Be better for Michael, if not for me.’

‘What does Michael have to do with me breaking the balustrade?’ I asked.

‘Because,’ she said, turning back to head down the dark hallway, ‘if you keep breaking things… if you keep breaking things, then we won’t be able to live with you anymore.’

And then she disappeared into the black.