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“I hate the city. This house is a dump. I don’t feel right here. And you’ll never get anywhere if you just drop everything and go travelling.”

“It’s only for a couple of years, darling.”

Bronnie went pale.

“I’ll move to the country by myself. I don’t need a man around.  Why do women always have to do what men want?”

“That’s not true. You are an assertive woman. I’m always doing what you ask.”

“But you make the big decisions like where we are going to live.”

Rose’s face was fixed in a neutral smile. She emptied a load of vegetables into a wok and stirred them with a scoop.

“It’s true, isn’t it Rose, women always go along with men in the end.”

Rose had lined up behind Bronnie in this type of argument in the early days before she worked out the complexities of the relationship between Bronnie and Chris. And lately she had felt anything but sisterly towards her.

“It does seem to happen often”, she conceded.

“Oh come on,” said Chris. “I know lots of relationships where the women dominate. Look at my parents. Look at your mother.”

They were launched, dodging and weaving in long-rehearsed patterns. Sometimes these sparring matches ended up with one of them dumping a glass of wine or a jar of yoghurt over the other, then both collapsing with laughter.  More often, lately, they ended in Bronnie making a loud pronouncement that no-one dared contradict.

“I’m sick of this. You didn’t know anything about women’s oppression before I met you. I made you aware.”

“That’s not true.”

“Bullshit. It is.”

She turned sideways. “And would you mind not stirring that wok with a metal spoon. It’s stainless steel. It cost a lot. I don’t want it wrecked.”

“No I don’t mind. I just needed to be told a bit earlier.”

Rose went to her room leaving the wok abandoned on the stove. She lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Her wrists ached.

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