Alice was yet again in the kitchen, checking on the food being kept warm. It looked appetising when it was ready over an hour ago, but the prolonged stay in the oven irradiated any vitality it once had. Steamed greens lay pallid and mournful. Within the casserole, the lamb, root veg and liquor have broken down into a single homogenous mash, and a thick skin has formed over the top, already tanning under the orange light of the cooker.
She hears the front door and his usual clatter when returning home. He ascends the stairs without fanfare; no explanation for his lateness, nor for not replying to her texts and calls enquiring as to his whereabouts. Just his work bag slung into a mangled shape in the vestibule and soaked-through shoes bleeding dirty rainwater onto the floor.