Breakfast Table Espionage by Manasvi Mudgal

“Would you like some sugar?” my wife asked me. I sensed the great effort it took her, to even acknowledge the fact that she had forgotten to add sugar to my coffee. I nodded and presented my half finished cup to her.

She peered in it, smiled, and said, “Did you not notice it was missing?”

“Of course I did.”

“Then why did you wait for me to ask?”

“I had my reasons” I said. Though in my head it sounded suave, but when I heard it when it came out, it sounded more like a hoarse whisper.

My wife chuckled. She added some sugar to my cup and settled back in her chair. I was about to reach for the day’s newspaper, but she beat me to it. After a lot of deliberation over whether I should finish my coffee or wait for my wife to pass me the newspaper so I could enjoy both the headlines and the bitter taste of my now lukewarm coffee, I decided to finish my coffee. I chugged the cup down my throat and put it on the table with a loud thump. Though not too loud, so she might think that I was angry, because I wasn’t, I was rather mildly irritated.

She looked up from the day’s newspaper. Her dark eyes examined me, looking for any sign of irritation, but I dug my right hand’s thumb in my index finger, it helped me keep a straight face. It’s my tested tactic to avoid showing any emotion, but if someone looked at the tip of my index finger, the deep red depression might betray me like an unfaithful spy. I glanced at the clock to avoid her gaze any further, fifteen minutes had passed since she took possession of the news paper and some of its pages she hadn’t looked at.
“Got any plans today?” she asked.

“The usual” I said shaking my head. “What’s for breakfast?” I asked.

“What do you want?”

“Do we have some eggs?”

“I’d have to check.”

“What if we don’t have eggs then?”

“You’d have to go down the market to get them.”

“I don’t want eggs then” I said retreating. “You have some more coffee?”

She swung her head to the electric kettle and said, “Yeah, don’t forget to add some sugar to it.” She turned the page of the newspaper and kept reading.

I knew she wasn’t planning to give me the newspaper anytime soon, because she was reading the sports page. She had never read the sports page with such an interest till today. My thoughts went over the day’s events, and I shrugged off any possibility of having upset her so much that she’d deprive me of the pleasure of talking about the day’s news with her. Yesterday however there were things which might have upset her. I after all had nicked her car while backing mine out of the parking. Yeah that would have been it. But, then again how could she have possibly known that I was the one who did it? I mean, our parking has about thirty cars and they are more or less so closely parked together that anyone could have done it.

In an attempt to ward off her suspicion I said, “I think we can go through the security footage to see who nicked your car yesterday?

“Now why would I do that?” she said putting down the newspaper for the first time since this morning.
“You know, to find out the culprit, to make him or her pay. I have a feeling that it was a woman who did it, women make bad drivers you know.”

The expression on her face changed from disinterested to being curious.

“Not that I am saying that you are a bad driver but some women are,” I added.

She smiled and placed her clasped hands together on the newspaper, “so you have any theories on who might have done it?”

“Sure I have plenty,” I said feeling triumphant, after all she had started giving some thought to what I was saying.

“So who do you think did it?” she said folding the newspaper.

“I think it’s that girl from the 5th floor, the one who goes to college. She must be it. Kids these days don’t even learn how to drive, and their parents buy them all kinds of motored things,” I said. Though I felt guilty for implicating that girl, but my morning news and breakfast were at stake. My wife had forgotten to put sugar in my coffee, which I felt was deliberate, and if she kept suspecting me, she might forget salt in my eggs too.

“What do you think?” I asked, gently taking her hands in mine.

She shook her head and took her hands off the newspaper. “Maybe, I go check if we have eggs,” she said. I dug my thumb again in my index finger so as not to smile at my little victory. My wife got off her chair and walked into the kitchen. I heard her open the refrigerator door and take out the eggs.

“We have eggs,” she cried. She chuckled as she broke the eggs one after the other. Over the sound of my sizzling omelet, I heard her say, “I was sitting right next to you in your car when you nicked mine, so I know who did it.”

I buried my face into the newspaper as she came to the table with the breakfast.

“I love you” I said.

“I know” she said passing me the salt. “That’s for lying to me.”

11 thoughts on “Breakfast Table Espionage by Manasvi Mudgal

  1. A nice feel good piece assuring us of the love still existing between the pair. You have managed to keep it light-headed throughout the conversation, quite unlike the stuff you usually write about. It’s like a regular morning in the life of this couple showcasing a happy phase in their lives. It ends with a small smile on the reader’s face reassuring her of all the goodness in this world.

  2. Both the idea and execution were excellent. As a short story this leaves an after taste something essential for good story teller.

  3. I think you did a good job showing the tension of keeping a poker face while trying to find out how much another person knows.

  4. Good short sneak Peak into the life of a normal couple. And it’s always better to tell the truth… I like that I can feel the Tension between them

  5. This piece shows how it’s possible to fight without having to hate the opponent and to win without having to spoil a relationship. I love that your couple know each other so well that they can play these games with each other. A lovely light-hearted piece.

    1. Thanks Debb, I’ve tried to portray the life of a couple who have spent some time together, the short story format doesn’t allow for building up characters so I hope I didn’t mess up.

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