I do miss her; knew more than me, more stuff than I’ll ever know I suppose. Wished I’d asked her more. She always wanted to know about me, what I was up to. She had to know, brushing her past aside, my questions unanswered…”
by christine tothill
Eggs, cheese, tin of peppers. Milk, cream – past its use by date, limp lettuce. Bradley likes tarts I reckon. Must do? Surely?
Met him last night, picked me up, off the floor; I skidded over a pool of beer, right on my arse. He pulled me up, wiped me down. He bought me a drink and we talked the night away, no dancing, no groping, nothing else. Not till we got home. But that was last night. Tonight I’m waiting for him to come for supper.
Grate the cheese. Flour, yes, of course. No, hold on, a pastry mix is there, under the gravy granules. Where’s the bowl? Washing up bowl will do.
Here I go – open packet, tip in bowl, mix with water. Roll it out, easy, peasy. Nan, I knew this roller would come in handy. What to fit it on? A plate. Now for the hard stuff – break the eggs, tip in cream, milk, grated cheese – beat with fork, pour over pastry. It’s going everywhere; plump up side, stop it oozing. Done.
Brad stayed last night. It was good. He didn’t seem to reach his peak, nothing happened. Hard? You bet. It was very hard. He kept trying; I’ve never had so many organisms I can tell you. Mustn’t go on about it. Must I Nan? Bet you didn’t do things like that. First night?
Put in oven, medium heat.
Bedroom’s a tip. Pick up clothes, tidy sheets. No, hang on – clean sheets. Yes Nan, I know, nothing like clean sheets. Think I’ll move you downstairs, put you on the shelf over the tele.
Whoops, there he is, early too.
‘Watcha, how you doing?’ he says. He pulls a bunch of red roses from behind his back.Your favourite Nan.
‘They’re wicked. I’m fine,’ I say. ‘Have to find something to put them in. I’ll stick them in the sink for now.’
He’s gorgeous; I can’t believe my luck. Stop looking at him Nan, I can see you. There on the shelf, your eyes moving around, following him. ‘Too good to be true,’ I can hear your words now. I do miss her; knew more than me, more stuff than I’ll ever know I suppose. Wished I’d asked her more. She always wanted to know about me, what I was up to. She had to know, brushing her past aside, my questions unanswered. ‘Go on, tell me?’ she’d say, ‘Nothing to tell about me, nothing at all. I used to have frogs’ legs on Fridays; wouldn’t touch them now. Clubbing? Don’t know what you’re talking about. Who’s clubbing?’
We eat by the fire, on the sofa. Sip wine, listen to Robbie. I’ve moved Nan’s photo, put her on the window ledge, behind the curtain.
Brad pushes his food around, takes it slowly, not rushing like some blokes – shoving it in. This one has manners. Genteel sort, eh Nan? Thinks she likes him -ah.
Nan brought me up after Mum walked out. She met my Grandad in Paris, during the war. No photos of him, ever. None hidden away in drawers; I’ve looked you know.
‘Chantelle, where are you?’ Brad asks. ‘Miles away – I’m here, hello.’
‘You didn’t like it, did you?’ I say, ‘not a very good cook am I?’
‘What with your name, being French, thought you might have done something more exotic,’ he says. ‘Frogs’ legs for example.’ He laughs, pulls me up from the sofa. ‘I could have brought something in.’
‘You have,’ I say. ‘You.’
She’s here, with me and there is nothing I can do about it. Nan and her flipping frogs’ legs.
(illustrations: dee sunshine)
Christine Tothill is British and lives in Spain. She writes short fiction, flashes and articles. Christine has published work in UK and Spain. She writes with Alex Keegan’s online Boot Camp and plays the organ in any other spare time she has, which is hardly ever.