Deborah was onto something with the cleaning. Tidying the house and tossing out everything they no longer needed.
The idea resurfaced when she sat with Maurice at the dining table one night.
“I know nothing seems to work now,” she began, “but what sort of things used to make you happy, Maurice? Things like writing?”
He said that had been untrue for a long time now, as soon as it became classified as ‘work’ – with exceptions made for every time someone recognised him and gave him compliments without making too much of a spectacle.
“I find that I like to keep busy when I’m stressed,” Deborah said, and Maurice nodded. “Maybe there’s something we could go and do together to get your mind off things.”
“I’m sorry,” he said first, “I appreciate what you want to do, but I’m not sure I’m fit to leave the house for awhile. I’d… I’d rather not deal with rumours or anything, I’m afraid I would say something wrong.”
“Okay, then we’ll find something here to do. We could,” she cleared her throat, “we should involve the twins as well, shouldn’t we?”
“Yeah. You could do with being a bit less busy.”
She stood and shoved in her chair; Maurice was afraid he had offended her. She walked to the sink and rearranged the dishes inside it.
“Let’s hire a chef for a night. You could do with a proper meal – I think we all could – and then we could relax and talk. What about that?”
Then there it was, the shy and stumbling little laugh neither of them had heard in years. Maurice felt like he had to talk over it as soon as he could.
“Really? Isn’t that a bit–?”
“It probably is, but maybe that can be a start.”
Two nights and several phone calls later, the four of them stood in the kitchen, rushing to match it to Deborah’s definition of ‘presentable.’ The laughter resurfaced several times, becoming more comfortable with each repetition.