She told him she didn't like pie, she liked cake, but he tried making her pie, getting all the ingredients wrong anyway, one rainy day, as a suprise. It was the measurements that got him. Too much of this, too little of that. It had gone downhill from there. He didn't work well against the clock. He felt like a mad scientist trying to get love and marriage and happiness just right. Waiting round crazily for that bolt of lightning. Too long, maybe. He ended up throwing the fruit of his efforts away in the rubbish outside before she had a chance to see it. Coming home, she looked around and asked him, 'is something burning?' Her clothes were damp and hanging, her poncho soaked and probably ruined, her face red, her hair in tangles. He wanted to say how pretty he thought she looked like that, but he thought it might upset her--she might take it the wrong way--especially now that she suspected him of burning things.
He was working in a cinema when he met her. She came out into the lobby to say that the picture wasn't in focus and they got talking. He didn't know it, but she still had the ticket from that film and sometimes she wondered why he never suggested, in a sentimental way, that they rent it out, watch it again, knowing it had brought them together. She imagined them wrapping up in a blanket and eating cake together, watching. Something inside of her wanted him to propose they do this together, but she never said so. Sometimes she wondered if he really loved her as much as he said he did. It had been a crap movie anyway.
She also wondered if his obsession with the early 1970s was, at least in part, an excuse to imagine himself in a time and place in which she didn't exist. For this reason, she bought herself a poncho one day--something straight off the cover of that Incredible String Band album he was always going on about, listening to while he cooked and fucking up the recipes because he would get too distracted. She started wearing the poncho as frequently as she could, hoping it would be her ticket into her husband's fantasies.
Image courtesy of Nicholas Haggard
He went to get her the big towel from the bathroom and, after helping her pull her favourite poncho off, he wrapped her up and sat her down in front of the oven (which was still warm from his ill-fated pie-making). As soon as he handed her the cup of tea, which he had already made--which he had managed, surprisingly, to time perfectly with her return home--there was a clap of lightning outside and the electricity in the house fizzled out. The Incredible String Band died out mid-song. He got down and wrapped his arm around her, and she threw the rest of her towel over his shoulder, so that now they could both be under it, beside the big warm oven. Then she started singing right where his music had left off, right where the album had stopped playing. And, very faintly, with yet another clap of lightning, he felt tears welling up in his eyes, making his vision dimly go out of focus, so moved was he that she knew the song by heart.
Won't you lay down dear sister,
Won't you lay and take your rest?
Won't you lay your head upon your saviour's breast?
And I love you, but Jesus loves you the best
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.