Whisky will fix it.

She was old when she died, and that makes it right. Right? That’s what I kept telling myself. Old people die, it doesn’t matter how much you loved them, and how much you didn’t want them to it is just the way. I used to think that old people got really old, until eventually they shrunk back into babies and lived again. If only. Old people die. Fact. But that doesn’t make it easier, whatever anyone says.

My Nan, Hilary-Hilda Ramsbottom lived to be 75, which is fairly young for someone old. Everyone called her Hill and she was alright with that. I called her Prune, Hill, and sometimes Nan but she hated to be called Nan, Granma, Granny, anything that made her sound old. I don’t think she ever got the prune reference, you know. Wrinkled like a prune, or one of those dates that you get at Christmas.

She died on a Saturday. I don’t think it was right for people to die at the weekend. It was a strange Saturday because I knew she was ill and I knew she didn’t have long, however much she said she had years in her. The Friday before the Saturday I went to her granny flat and looked in as I always did. She was sitting in her chair, as usual, but she hadn’t done her hair and was still in her PJ’s.

“You’re here early love,” she said when I walked in. Her house was neat from when I’d been round the day before to clean. It still smelt of roast, she must have had the leftovers for lunch. Her hair looked like she had spent some time with her head in a candyfloss machine.

“What you looking at me like that for?”

“I’m not looking at you like anything,” I said.

“Oh shit,” she said. “I’ve not got my hair on.” She started to get up, but I gestured her to sit back down.

“Usual place? I’ll get it and put the tea on.”

“Whisky for me love, won’t you join?” And I did. We had a few, which was a nightmare because I had work early and serving people on reception boozey breath was frowned upon. I remember thinking that I should go home but I didn’t. I stayed all night and watched crap on TV until it was time for bed. That was my last night with her, and I wouldn’t change it. Not for anything.

The reading of the will went as could have been expected. Mum, in her tracky bottoms and hoodie. She had a cold she couldn’t shift, she wiped her nose on her sleeve. Her boyfriend Frank was in a pair of trackies too, but he’d ‘dressed them up’ with a pair of polished loafers. They were quite the match. Mum kept trying to finish the solicitor’s sentences; she kept guessing wrong. She had no shame though. She just nodded with him when he corrected her. Frank chewed loud. I tried to get him to spit the gum out before we went in there, in protest he squeezed the pack into his fat chops.

Mum wasn’t getting a penny. She flew off the handle. Saying something about being her only daughter, she should have it all… bla bla. We all knew Nan had money, money that no one spoke of and money that made mum drag herself out of franks club arms and round Hill’s house. Money mum thought was hers. She poked her long finger in my rib and put her face nose to nose with mine.

 “It’s your fault you bitch,” she was spitting at me as she spoke with smokey breath. I didn’t even flinch. “You made her do this. You’ve been planning it for years, you greedy cow. No wonder you spent so much time with that mad old bitch.” I bit my lip and clenched my fists.

I could see the solicitor calling security and I was glad. I didn’t need her in my face. Frank was behind her saying something about me being a money grabbing whore. I don’t know. Security took them away, mum was screaming and frank was slipping on his over polished shoes. I said my apologies to the solicitor, thanked him for his time and got up to leave.

“Sorry Miss Bennet, I haven’t actually finished yet.”

“Oh, there’s more?” I knew Nan had money but she told me I’d never have it, she wanted me to learn how to earn money.

“Please sit back down,” he said and ruffled the papers on his desk. “Now, your late grandmother would like to leave you in charge of Bagpuss.”

“The dog, of course.” What did she think I’d do with the dopy sod. Ever since she died he had been living at my house, eating out of my bin, and humping my yucca plant. I was glad to have him. He smelt like roast lamb and mint sauce.

When I got home that night I sat down in the chair I had taken from Hill’s house and tucked myself under one of her blankets. Bagpuss came and sat on my lap. Short stocky thing. Front legs noticeably shorter than his back ones. He had brown eyebrows and a brown nose. A white chest, to match three of his socks. He had he waggiest tail I’ve ever seen and the softest ears.

I poured myself a whisky, put the glass in the air. “Cheers Hill.” I chinned that and poured another. Booze goes down easier when there’s a reason to drink. I drank to her memory and didn’t even wince at the burn.

Things were getting a bit wobbly after the third or forth, or was it the sixth. Bagpuss had tired himself out humping the plant and had taken himself off to bed.

“I’m not watching this shit,” I froze. Like when you’re scared as a kid and think if you stay really still that everything will be alright. “Change it then.” Still frozen and feeling heavy from the drink I stayed put. “Katarina, are you not listening to me? I hate that orange man, change it.”

Eyes wide, frowning, I turned my head. There she was, staring forward moaning about how she hated reality TV and men in vests. She was the same, but how she was before she was ill. Neat short hair, sitting tall, crocheting. She looked at me with her grey eyes. I had the classic face, mouth open, eyes wide and frowning.

“What?” she said. “What you looking at me like that for? Why you shaking?”

“Hill?”

“How many of those you had love? Pour me one wont you.”

Nothing was right, nothing made sense. Only a week ago I’d heard the cannon go off at the crem to mark her death. I’d seen the curtains close on the coffin. I’d spread her ashes over my garden. I’d planted her roses.

“Those roses won’t grow, you’ve crowded them. Here, I’ll change it.” She got up and shuffled over to the remote, changed the channel and she was gone. 

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What I do since you left.

I’ve started writing shit poems. Ones full of clichés and rhyming couplets. They make me feel sick. They make me cry. What does it matter, I’m sick and sad anyway so might as well get something out of it, eh?

I spend my evenings thinking about how we danced the funky chicken at party’s way back then. How you told me I was too old for you, every day. I don’t think about the time you screamed at me in the street because I told you I wasn’t ready for fatherhood, or how you ignored me for a week because I reversed the car over the cat. A broken tail, I got it fixed.

I stroke your cardigan. That God awful one you called your house coat but still wore outside. I look at the smudge of nail varnish on the pocket- you never could wait for them to dry. But, the way I spend most of my day is by putting away your things, realising how sad and shit and dark it is without them, and taking it all back out. That’s what I do. I look at everything over and over, I feel it, I smell it. There’s this slipper, still got the indent of your foot in it but I can’t find the other. I spend so much time staring at that slipper, searching for its other half, do you know where it is?

Remember those stars that used to hang from the ceiling, you know the ones, I said that they’d be the first thing to go if you did. I get tangled up in them just like before. Sometimes I walk into them on purpose, curse you and the hanging stars and feel better for a second. I know, I hated them but now, now they are beautiful because they are so very you. I’m sentimental. I’m writing soppy poetry and crying at the news.

I don’t let the girls come to visit unless I’ve had enough notice. It’s a good afternoon’s work to get it all away again. If I come across the slipper it can take me two days, I get side tracked and frustrated and have to have a drink. If the girls caught me doing what I do they’ll think that I need to see someone. I think I do.

In the evenings sometimes I can’t get off the phone, people who never called call me weekly. To make me feel better? or to make themselves feel better? I’m not sure which.

I try to ask questions, let others do the talking so that I don’t have to admit my sorry old life to anyone who doesn’t really care, someone who is just calling to fill a spare bit of time. I’ve got all the questions to keep them busy talking, if I ever have to answer that dreaded question, “You been getting out?” I say, the park, I go on bike rides to get the paper, feed the ducks with stale bread and think about getting a dog. I tell them that every Tuesday and Saturday I go to the supermarket, there’s a quiz at the Nags Head on Wednesday.

Truth. Since you left, I’ve been out once. To the supermarket, that big one with roll back as their motto. There were so many kids in there, snotty and screaming, wearing no shoes. I liked the one we used to go in together but I thought I might break down in the bakery aisle. I’m not ready to face those cream puffs in the red and white cases just yet.

In the supermarket, I didn’t know what to buy. I brought rice and pasta along with back up ready meals, beer and vodka- you never let me have vodka. The rice was crunchy and the pasta fell apart. Good intensions but now I’m surviving on my back up, back log of ready meals. They’re salty and I don’t like it. On those dark nights, when I close the curtains and drink vodka on ice I have two of the meals. Too cowardly to do something drastic, I decide to let the salt take its toll on my heart.

The little one came round to visit and gave me a lecture about the salt- wearing her hair pinned, a pair of chinos and a shirt. My God, she could have been you 20 years back. She brought me a parsnip soup. It was thick and chunky and I didn’t know how to get rid of it without having to eat it. I blocked the sink and still haven’t had it fixed. I wash up in the bath until I can find where you kept the yellow pages, maybe they’re with your slipper, maybe your slipper is acting as a bookmark for something you needed in the yellow pages, do you remember?

When the little one came round, we talked about you, of course and we laughed at how you got drunk at Christmas and put the cheese board in the microwave and filled the tea pot up with coffee. The older one has been round too. She’s sad, of course and she misses you being but she needed to talk about her problems and I liked it. She always was a daddy’s girl. She’s fighting with Liam again and that was all she could talk about it and it was a nice change. Although, the whole time she was there, talking about Liam and how she was thinking about leaving him I was thinking about you. I tried not to, I needed a break from my thoughts but this one just crept in. I thought about that time when you said, “if it gets any worse I’m leaving.” I begged you to stay and you said I’d have to come round to it when the time comes. You gave me your wedding ring and promised I’d cope alone. I told you I couldn’t cook and you laughed and told me I’d survive on ready meals, but you said that I’d need to make sure I watch the salt. I gave you your ring back and we cuddled in front of the box.

When the older one said, “dad, are you listening?” I said yes and then she carried on telling me what he had been doing. I’ve never liked Liam and I told her. I told her she should be with someone who makes you laugh even when things are shit, when there’s no money in the bank and bills to pay. And she said, “So you want me to find someone like mum.”

I said, “if you find someone like your mum introduce me, I’m going spare, make sure she’s better looking than your mum though, want to trade up.” She got up, kissed me on the head and told me she had to go.

The phone rings on Tuesdays at 6, and Fridays at 5. Those are the days we agreed on you calling, the nurses wrote it in your diary and remind you an hour before. I watch the phone ring, imagine you sitting on the other end with your crochet blanket over your knees, shivering and bony and grey, surrounded by others just the same. I can’t pick up. I freeze. I cry.

You’re not who you were. You’re not the same person who used to paint her nails every night and pick up the fish and chips on a Friday, call me a tight bastard and laugh at my jokes. That’s not you anymore, you are not mine anymore. You belong to them now, and you’ve got to accept it. You told me that I had to let you leave if the time came and that I’d cope. I’m trying to; I’m trying so hard to move on.

I’ve got in the car a couple of times, got the map out of how to come and visit you. I never get as far as turning the key. I feel sick and my head hurts, I go lie down. I’m punishing myself because I know times a healer and if I see you all the pain that’s getting easier will just get hard again and I’m afraid of what I’ll do.

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The Test of a Good Woman

  I believe you shouldn’t judge a woman by the way she looks, smells, or wears her hair. Yeah, okay so all that is important- I’m not after a troll who smells like a trucker- but I think you can tell all you need to know about a woman by what she eats, how she eats. I’ve been on a lot of dates, and this isn’t me bragging clearly I’m no good at it after 34 long years of being single, but I’ve always had a keen eye for knowing what women are really like behind that first date smile. I cant tell from the moment I see them, but from the moment I see what they order.

Take Sue. Sue was a red haired, fiery woman in a tight dress and thick heels. I met Sue in a club and told her I’d take her out after a few Martinis. I liked the way she flicked her tongue round her straw and tried to catch it in her mouth. Sue smoothed her Lycra skirt to her bare thighs and sat, with her spine curved at the bottom, on the chair. Her necklace hung low, a locket, and if things went well at dinner I was planning on asking to see inside it. She circled her shoulders in time with the music and held the menu in both hands. The waiter came and she peered over the top of the menu, winked at me and said, “I’ll have the oysters.” Looking at me the whole time she ordered. I don’t have to spell it out, she knew what she wanted and I like that. I also like a woman who can order and order well. Oysters are good on any occasion, on your own on a Friday night even, and if what they say is true then even better with someone else. I ordered a light soup, simple and easy, a classic.

                Sue started off impressively and I really thought I might get to know what was in the locket, somewhere I hadn’t got in years. I froze to watch her take the fish, hoping that she didn’t fail at the first hurdle. Her thick eye lashes were spread like spider’s legs and her pupils round and dark between them, not looking away as she pulled the oyster closer to her lips. Her red, thick lips. She scooped under to loosen the flesh from the shell and sucked. The noise echoed through the entire room, shaking the pictures on the wall and I’m sure I heard a mirror crack. After what seemed like 20 minutes of slurping and staring she’d sucked it all in. Then she chewed. Sloppy, mouth open along with heavy breathing, worn out from shoulder dancing I guess. I looked down into my asparagus soup and weighed up the pros of drowning myself in it.

Hannah was sweet. I met her on the sea front; she worked on the ice cream parlour and served me a 2 scoop of rum and raison for the price of one. Maybe her mum had told her that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I picked her up in my duck egg mini. I always drive; I don’t cloud my judgement with drink. Concentrating on every mouthful they take requires a clear head. I got carried away once with a woman a few years back, ended up drinking a couple of bottles of wine with her. I thought she was the one. In the meal I must have missed crucial signs or just let them go because after the 2nd bottle she burped right in my face. From then on I’ve always driven. Hannah kept tucking her hair behind her ears, even when it was already there. She pursued her lips and looked up at me over the menu, but when I made eye contact she looked away and giggled. I ordered fizzy water on ice and she followed suit. When the waiter came Hannah gestured towards me to order first and said the dreaded words, “I’ll have what you’re having.” I ordered the hottest curry on the menu and watched her sweat and sniff with every mouthful.

Sharron, or Shaz as she liked to be called worked at the supermarket. She made me laugh when she came up behind me and said, “You going to pay for that you thieving bastard.” When I turned around she had her hand covering her mouth, as red as onions. “Oh, God, I thought you were someone else,” she said.  She put her arm around my wrist and begged me not to tell customer services that she’d called me a bastard. I agreed as long as she came on a date with me. She was a big girl with a pretty, sweet face. Thin red lips, big blue eyes and blonde hair shaped to her round face. At dinner she wore jeans, heels and a top which was floaty and forgiving. She ordered her own drink, a large Nantua Les Deux- a complex and buttery wine. I knew she had good taste.  Then she ordered the food, “I’ll have the avocado salad please. No sides thank you.” How could such a good wine order go with such a terrible food order. I must have paused mouth open for a moment or two because the waiter had to call me twice. “And for you, Sir?” he said. “Sir?” I ordered the Chicken in a soft cheese sauce, with a side of vegetables and new potatoes.

When the waiter packed up his note pad and left, she said: “It’s a gland problem, my weight. I eat light.” I laughed and said something vaguely sympathetic, “my sister suffers with that too”. Don’t get me wrong, I would have believed her if it hadn’t been that when I dropped my napkin I noticed two chocolate wrappers in her open bag, and what I had thought had been a mole on her face began to look more and more like Cadburys. I don’t date liars.

Jane. If I was one of those men who judge a woman by her name I wouldn’t have bothered with Jane. I’d known her years, we worked together, drank coffee together, filed stuff together, then I bumped into her in town and we got talking.

On our date she had her hair to her shoulders and flat to her head. She wore jeans and a white shirt with a pair of black boots. She ordered a white wine and she didn’t mind which- I think she chose the cheapest. Out of work and worried that I’d ask her to split the bill. She took her time over the menu, really analysed it as though it was important data and we were at a meeting. The conversation flowed well as we spoke about people who we used to know, where they were now, where we were now. The waiter came over, smartly dressed with a napkin tucked into his belt. She smiled at him and closed the menu in front of her. “Please may I have the chicken in a white wine sauce but without the sauce.” Her order was dry chicken and boiled potatoes with no butter. It was dry and plain. If I’d have judged her by her clothes or her name then I could have saved myself three hours of my life listening to the plainness of hers. She’d never even been on holiday and stopped after one glass of wine because of a fear of getting drunk.

Tina was a food critic, so I let her pick the place. She said she wanted to try out a new Thai restaurant uptown.  She sat straight like she was balancing books on her head, wearing a tight black dress to her knees, low cut at the back. Tina had short black hair and thin red lips painted with bright red. She inspected the cutlery and wiped it over with her napkin. When she eventually had cleaned everything on the table she opened to the wine. She curled her lip and flared her nostrils at the list. “Oh I guess we will have to have the Belondrade y Lrton, it’s the only half decent one on here.” When the young Spanish waiter came to tell us that they were out of Belondrade y Lurton Tina’s lips went even thinner. “What kind of establishment is this? Why don’t you just tell me what to have rather than me even look at the menu.” The waiter hung his head and apologised but she didn’t stop. “Oh stop with your sorry mams, please. I would have thought a place like this would have a proper waiter not some spotty teen saving for his first car. Please, bring me the manager.” Then I got an emergency phone call and dove out of the restaurant.

That was how I met Lucy. I bumped in to her as I was running out of the resturant, half expecting Tina to chase me with a well polished knife. 

“Watch it,” she said. Coffee all over her parker. I tried to rub her down but it meant touching her breast and she didn’t take well to that one.  “Where you going in such a rush?” she said.

“Bad date.”

“Did you throw a coffee over her too?”

I laughed, “Let me buy you a coffee, please to make up for this one.”

“You don’t hang about, straight back on the bandwagon, you get knocked down, you get right back up,” she said.

“Well you know, can’t hang about. At my age most the good ones are taken.” Hannah looked young under the street lamp in her 20’s I guessed. She had soft blonde hair, flowing over the hood of her coat. I could see her hot breath in the cold night and she was shivering a little.

                “Don’t want coffee though, I’m starving. You can buy me a burger instead.”

“Alright, know any good burger places?”

“All stop serving at 10, ‘cept that burger van.”

“Bit cold though, isn’t it.” I know it was forward, I rubbed her arms to try and warm her, it just felt like something I should do.

“It’s alright, there’s a wind shelter over there.”

 We ate burger and chips together on a bench. We sat close to each other to keep warm, our thighs touching. She got sauce on her face and didn’t get embarrassed about it, she wiped it away and we moved on. She chewed with her mouth closed, and covered her mouth when she laughed. She was a casual diner, cool and easy to please, she was herself. That was how I met Lucy.

 

 

 

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Suicide Tequilas on Saturdays

  She was a sucker for a bad boy, a guy from the wrong side of the law. I think she just loved a good drama and that was something he could provide. “She’s no one,” he’d say, “just an old friend.” And there would be hell, tears, sore throats from screaming. From us-hugs and kisses. “Leave him,” we’d say. “You’re better than him,” we’d say. Forest’s of toilet paper to dry salty eyes. Tequila and triple vodkas to drown in. Salt up the nose and lemon in the eye- that’s how we did it. She’d feel strong, like she could go it alone. “I can do it,” she’d slur, squinting. But in the morning, with the hangover depression and need for some love, she never could resist his “forgive me, I’ll change. I’m nothing without you.” A poor education, all he knew was clichés. Seen it on the telly. 

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Banbury’s Factory Girls (extract)

Maude:

He was old when he died, so it was alright, right? He drove me mad for my whole life. I hear it from loads of people how those endearing little ways become bigger, more annoying with every anniversary that passes. He used to clear his throat all the time, sing along to songs that he was too old to know, but most annoying of all was the way his nose whistled down the phone. Even though I was glad to be shot of those habits I still did the whole grieving thing. It’s what people do, I’d see it on the telly.  So I wore black and dark glasses, had weeks off work, ignored the phone and kept the door shut. I couldn’t hear the phone anyway, the music was too loud. Part of the grieving process, drinking isn’t it? So each night I drank myself drunk and stuck on an old 80’s album, danced on the table- broke it, and sang my heart out. My broken heart (ahem.) The neighbors didn’t complain, they probably just thought I was listening to songs that reminded me of him. Little they knew, if it was songs that reminded me of him I’d be dancing to the unlikely DMX  followed by that classic by, what’s his name, Will Smith. He always thought he was hip, not with those hips.

Oh don’t give me that, take his side. Okay, okay. It’s harsh of me to say I didn’t care, and yes- it would have been better if I just packed up my bags and left. Why did he have to die for me to be free? We never would have broken up under any other circumstances. We were safe and comfortable, we never stormed out or shouted at each other. Our life was a rich tea biscuit. Bland. I used to sit there itching my feet and wishing that I’d made different choices. Wishing that I’d realised sooner how beige he was. How simple minded and safe. I never got round to it- breaking up with him, and then we fell into marriage, kids, and then before I could think we were old. I cried all the time, in the bath and out of view, old people don’t break up. He had to die.

Kaylee:

She’s back today you know. She’s been off with grieving. Her husband kicks the bucket and she gets all this holiday and leaves us short on the line. I said we better get someone new in anyway, train them up because she’s old, real old. I reckon she must be about to retire or something. I wanted my mate to start. She needs a job, don’t care what she does so I said I’d help her get on the line with me.  Shit job right but we have a laugh. Bet you want a job here, or you think you’re too good for it?

I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to her. I don’t know if she want to talk about it so I think I’ll just leave it. Or maybe I’ll ask Kim to bring it up so I can get a bit of gossip. I know something weren’t right with their marriage and I want to know more. Got to have something to keep you going in here. Last week it was Julie. Julie works in the canteen, she’s the one with the short dirty blonde hair, always wears the short skirt and gives all the guys extra chips. Well, she was having it off with one of the big married director men, he’s kinda slimy but he’s loaded. I would. His wife kicked him out now he’s shacking up with her in her one up one down.  

I know she wasn’t that happy. At the Christmas party she told me to get some money out her purse and I saw a card for a shrink. Shouted it to her at the bar and she gave me this look like she’d kill me. She was too old to kill me. I could take her on, so I shouted again, hey you why you seeing a shrink. Everyone knew she wasn’t happy, but no one knew why. 

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Saturday – Shortlisted for Writers and Artists Yearbook 2013

Saturday by Rebecca Saunders

 You brought me tea in bed on Saturdays. In all our nineteen years together I never told you I preferred coffee. You tried with me, I’ll give you that. I was the one who wanted to change things. I wanted our love to be on fire, I didn’t want our feet to touch the ground. Sometimes you would just want to sit down and relax together, be bored together, eat biscuits together. “Isn’t it nice to do this sometimes,” you’d say. I’d nod, sat next to you straight like a broom, hands by my side. Love with you was a non contact sport. It was tag rugby; it was a game of chess.

 You sat on the end of our bed and read me the headlines. I hated your voice. It was too loud, too coarse. I sipped my tea in silence and hugged the mug for comfort. My mind wandered to when I’ll finally say, “I’m leaving.” I almost said it that day. The words got caught and turned into a cough. “You okay?” you said, over the top of the paper, reading glasses on the bridge of your nose. “It’s raining tomorrow.” Always raining, I thought. I don’t think it rained anywhere else in the world except above our semi detached house. A grey cloud followed me, rain with a small chance of thunder.

You bored me. Your routine, shower, shave, read the paper to me. Your jokes. “I’ll have a pint of Guinness and a red wine. Not in the same glass mind.” I laughed at that one once. Nineteen years ago when I was drinking Snow Balls with my friends.

Friends. What are they?

 We went shopping, food shopping. Not clothes. Nothing fitted my pear shape and it would always end in tears that you didn’t know how to comfort. I stuck to food, I knew where I was with it. There was no such thing as a tight cream cake. I waited at the door, thirteen hundred hours, military precision.  You were running late, rushing around to find your other shoe. I tapped my foot and checked my watch. I liked to be on time even when there were no limits. You were slow, old, tired. I still had my energy, my get up, my go.

 We didn’t argue out loud, you thought it was uncouth. I argued with you in my mind every time you did one of your irritating habits. Like when you cleared your throat before every sentence, or how you sing along to songs that you were too old to know. In the car, on the way to the supermarket, I wondered why we were still trying. How did you not know I was unhappy? Before long we would have creaky knees, bus passes and knitting on the go. Who would want us then? Maybe that internet bride or the Turkish guy down the chippy who’s after a visa.

     You pushed the trolly and I walked along the sides throwing things in. “Watch out love, you’ll break the eggs.” You said that every week. I’d never broken an egg. I’d like to have thrown a dozen at you while you browsed the spices pretending that you were going to cook up something special. I’d rather them hardboiled, I thought. Then I saw Denzel.

Denzel. You saw him too. Not that you noticed him like I did. He was the black guy, broad and big- but not fat. Far from it, all muscle under that crisp white shirt, I thought. You might remember him as the man whose trolley you bumped into. “Watch out,” I said. When you said sorry, over and over, he said: “No worries, it’s fine.” His voice was soft and delicate.

 “Excuse me love, do you know where I’d find the beach towels.”

      “I’m sorry, I don’t work here.” It was that shirt I had on, the one I wore to work sometimes, big grey ugly thing. Remember? I looked around to see if you were there. You must have gone off to find your cereal.

 “Sorry,” he said. I smiled.

“That’s okay. I think they are down the holiday isle, just past the clothes.”

“Cheers.” He winked at me and I blushed. “Hey you should work here; you’ve been the most helpful.” I wanted him to be my dirty little secret. I looked again. You were still gone. I slipped him my number in a moment of confidence. He took it and said he’d call. I didn’t care if he didn’t. I just thought that I might die if I didn’t have something to look forward to.

How was I to know you’d had a cardiac arrest? Were they out of stock of bran flakes? Was it the shock that caused it? Unlike you to display an emotion publically. But there you were crying for help in isle twelve. Then came the blue lights, the flashes of hospital doors, through this one, through that one. They swung behind your trolley. Were you still alive then? Did you watch me check my phone to see if Denzel had called? How inconsiderate. Could you hear my wicked thoughts that your death could be my easy way out? I wouldn’t have to choke on my words anymore. God would forgive a widow but not an adulteress. Without you I could wear my hooker heels and do my shopping on a Sunday. Did you hear me think those thoughts?

 I just think we were a waste. A waste of years we can never get back. I will try and relive mine, bring me the minus nineteen years back. Because Denzel called. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t cough up those words sooner so you might have had someone better, someone less like me. 
So I leave you this note, this note by your graveside, to say sorry that I hated you for nineteen long years. I know you didn’t care for daisies. But I got you them anyway.

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What are we?

What’s that “we” all about.

“We don’t really drink. We only have a couple of beers.”

Do you become a collective as soon as you say I’d love to be with you? Do you suddenly loose all sense of self and merge into one person who is unable to make a decision without the other?

“Can I take your order sir?”

Man looks at him, all panicked,  “I’ll just wait for the wife, she’ll be along soon.” This translates to: “I can’t make a decision without the Mrs making one first.”

We. What happened to I. Who am I. What do I do. What do I want to do?

I know who we are, we are a couple, a pair, two. We are that couple who make single people sick, sick with dread because we call each other pet names and drink, eat, think the same thing. I’ll have what you’re having. I was just thinking that.

I know who I am. I’m quiet. Is it because we are comfortable with silence but maybe I just have nothing to say, we have nothing to say. Maybe that’s okay though, the world is too loud anyway.

I know what I do. I do everything. I am classic. I cook, I clean, I read. I do all those tasks that I am expected to do as a female, because in my tiny frame I have ovaries and I have this fatty tissue in my chest. Lead balloons  than anchor me in the kitchen or bent over the toilet- scrubbing shit.

What do I want to do. That’s the one I don’t get. What do I want? Do I want to talk, no. I like the quiet. I don’t want it to be all roller coasters and high speed chases. What I do want is some love, some recognition for what I do. A kiss. So much power is in a kiss. A spontaneous I love you and a kiss on the end of my nose carries more than anything else, more than that bunch of flowers you spent a fortune on back a few years. That nose kiss, to me, means the world.

What are we?

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