For Remembrance Day. This very short monologue was inspired by my grandmother-in-law – an amazingly resilient woman – who was married, widowed and became a mother all within a year.
The cup feels large in my hands. I wonder I don’t tip it! How loosely my fingers grip. My Tony came by yesterday as usual. He always takes me out on a Friday. Such a fine, tall, boy. I barely reach to his chest now. “Little mum,” he calls me, laughing, and hugging me close. He doesn’t pull as tight as he used to.
I think I’ll make a trifle this morning. Joan and Nora are coming round for lunch tomorrow. Such a long time since I’ve seen them. Nora doesn’t like the driving anymore, but their nephew is bringing them over. On your own it’s not worth making a pudding, but I’ll enjoy doing something special. If I need anything extra, I’ll get it later.
I’ll look out that trifle dish. It was a wedding present from the McCluskies. Waterford Crystal. Choose a linen table-cloth for the dining room. Haven’t used it in a while.
The dish, I think, is in the top of the cupboard. I should have asked Tony yesterday to reach it down for me. I know I can do it myself, but I’ll have to climb on a chair. Tony wouldn’t like me doing it. He says I shouldn’t take risks like that.
No matter. I can cope perfectly well. Haven’t I done so all these years? The kitchen chair is steady enough. Up we go. The shelf is high though, more of a stretch than I thought. See, there’s the bowl. Looks a bit dusty. I need to turn these cupboards out, freshen everything up.
Dear me, I’d forgotten how heavy the crystal is. I’ll have to hold it with both hands. Careful. It’s a long step down. Take it slowly.
There, that wasn’t so bad. Lucky no-one saw you doing it though! I’ll run some hot water and get it clean. Who’d have thought so much muck can get into cupboards! Dry it carefully. Don’t drop it while it’s wet. You’ve got this far. Now look at it! Sparkling!
I’m sure I’ve got some sponge fingers in a packet. They last forever. A layer of those. Then I’ll be naughty and add some sherry. Put plenty in. The girls will enjoy it! I wonder what fruit I’ve got. Tinned pears? Fruit cocktail? No. Ah, these are better. Mandarin segments. They’ll look pretty in the bowl. There’s even some orange jelly at the back left over from Christmas. Reg always loved a trifle as a treat.
Put the kettle on to melt the cubes. I’ll have some tea when I’ve finished. You can’t rush a trifle. The jelly needs to set and then there’s the custard to make. When I go out I must pick up some cream down at the shops. And I’ll do that chicken dish Joan likes.
Dear, I’ve put too much water in this kettle. And now I’ve spilt it everywhere. Ouch! Try not to scald myself! What’s the time? If I’m not quick I’ll miss the next bus to the shops. Just get a mop to wipe all that up…
I must have slipped. My leg’s not right. And my head’s thumping. Is that blood on my hand? Did I bash myself falling? I hope I haven’t broken anything. Tony will be cross. I wonder if I can get to the doctor without him knowing? He’ll only nag.
But I don’t think I can get up. Can’t get to the hall table for the phone.
I thought, way back, when my Reg was posted missing, I’ll manage, I’ll have to, his baby on the way. We’d been married just five months. I wondered why women made such a fuss about childbirth. I’d felt worse pain. I brought Tony up. Such a good lad. And with his father’s red hair. I can’t believe he’s as grey as me now. I thought it would get easier.
I didn’t check if I had any hundreds and thousands to finish off.
I wouldn’t want Tony to find me like this.