Friday 28 April 2017

Toast Three Ways

Robin Wrigley


Scotch on the Rocks 

Just after Nancy left for work I noticed the smell. She’s done it again. To the kitchen, shut off the grill and remove the two pieces of bread that have gone through several physical changes and are now smouldering tablets of charcoal. 

     Nancy and I have been together for nearly two years. She works. I keep house. My thoughts are interrupted at hearing the front doorbell, ah that will be her running back to tell me she’s remembered the toast.

 ‘It’s alright I’ve dealt with your bloody toast. Why can’t you use your own keys to open the door instead of having me run through the house?’ I yell as I’m opening the door.

     A somewhat bemused postman offers me a delivery of mail. ‘Sorry mate but this package wouldn’t fit through the letter-box. It was a package for me from Amazon.

     ‘I’m awfully sorry, ‘thought you were my partner,’ I say shame-facedly at his retreating back.    
Along with my package are several fliers, a couple of fashion catalogues for Nancy and an expensive embossed-velum letter for me, addressed in the unmistakable style of familiar hand-writing.
Instinctively I know what it is before I open it. What twisted mind would do this? It must be a wedding invitation? Sorting the mail, I put my package and the catalogues on the hall table, toss the junk next to the kitchen recycling bin and carry my letter through to the lounge, sit down and turn it over thinking, Jane, oh Jane how could you be so cruel? 
     She and I had been at university together. We were the complete item. Everyone commented how we were made for each other. Then one day three years ago she up and left. Said she needed time away to think. Think of what for heaven’s sake? She didn’t know, couldn’t say? I never saw her again. She left her job in the company, a good position, better than mine.    
With the smell of Nancy’s burnt toast still in the air my mind went back to our time at university. Hungry and short of money Jane and I often toasted crumpets on a fork on the gas fire in our student digs; bliss.
Now I was going to have to raise a glass of champagne. To toast her happiness – in marriage, how cruel.

     I won’t go.  How would I tell Nancy? I’ve always refused to talk about her, never uttered her name. I left the company. Created a new life as well as I could and then met Nancy.
 Now this, I opened the envelope. The moment I saw the black edge on the card my hands began to tremble. Resentment was replaced with remorse. Just how wrong could I be? Jane was dead and I was invited to her funeral.
On the back of the card in handwriting remarkably similar to Jane’s was a note from her younger sister saying, ‘Please do and try and come, David. She never forgot you.’

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