In the stories he filed he saw himself, when he interviewed the subjects he saw himself and when he turned on the television or read Dostoevsky he saw himself. When he brushed and barged his way down Oxford Street he saw himself but when he did his sums he was noticably absent. Every night he opened up the books, and in later years the laptop, and knuckled down but something didn't add up. It was awfully confusing.
His wife mocked him mercilessly, if affectionately. They harmonized. Some nights she sat in the corner reading to the soundtrack of his mumbled frustration, others she left him to it and went out with friends to sit in bars unravelling living soap operas or laughing at minor idiocies. By day she dealt in gluons and leptons.
The night that he leapt from his seat and punched the air he found her absent. He called her name and met with silence. The only alcohol he knew of in the house was a bottle of Pernod, a relic from a boating holiday long passed. He topped up a glass with an equal measure of tap water, retook his seat, rubbed his eyes and stared through the screen. Half an hour later he repeated this sequence.
She found him shortly after midnight, dribbling onto the desk with the tumbler at his feet. She closed the curtains and switched off his laptop, sure to save any open documents, before she lifted him carefully, arms under his shoulders, and dragged him over to the bed. She took off his shoes as some form of growl emerged from the stupor. She lay him sideways and drew up the duvet. His hair had flopped over his eyes and with two delicate fingers she brushed it back.