Saturday 29 August 2020


by Eamon O'Leary

black coffee

“Damn it. Damn it. Damn it,” muttered Marjorie. Her second salvo contained a more colourful string of expletives.
No electricity. She heard the click after switching on the dryer. The cuppa would  have to wait.
She grabbed her phone and lit a fag. (Marjorie would pack up smoking in a few weeks. This would be about the fifteenth year in succession she’d give up on her birthday.)
“Tom, the electricity has gone again. It’s the dryer that’s causing it.”
“Can’t talk now love. The sales figures are way down, and Jim has called a meeting. There will be trouble.”
“And what am I to do? The kids will be home soon, and it’s getting dark already. Do you expect us to sit here with a candle?”
“No need for the dramatics Marj’. Plug it out and flick the trip switch back on. That should do it. I’ll have a look when I get home. Must go. Bye.”
“You looked last week, and it’s still broken.”
Tom had hung up.
Marjorie did as instructed and power was restored. What to cook for dinner was next on the agenda, but first, a double espresso and another cigarette. Her mobile rang. Dorothy, her best friend.
“Hi Dot, how you doin’?”
“I’m great. Tell me, Marjorie, do you believe?”
“Believe in what Dot? It’s only half four, don’t tell me you’re on the vino at this hour.”
“No. I’m not drinking but I’ll definitely be having a few later. Just wondering. Do you believe in God and all that stuff? I know you and Tom take the boys to Mass, but do you really believe?”
“Dorothy, darling pet. You’re my best mate and I love you to bits, but right now I’m doubled up with period pains and the electricity is on the blink. There’s a heap of clothes in the tumble dryer and another on the kitchen table waiting to be ironed. The kids will be starving, I haven’t a clue what’s for dinner and you want to talk about God. Are you cracking up?”
“Sorry, Marj’, but it’s something that happened earlier when Catherine and Sandra called that set me thinking.”
“Oh, my God, Dot. I’m so sorry. I forgot they were calling today. Hang on a sec’ ‘til I put a drop of milk in my coffee. Now, to answer your question, I suppose a lot of it is habit, but if push came to shove, I’d have to say that I believe, but not too much. Now we’ve solved that theological mystery, tell me how you got on with the terrible twosome, but first, how’s your mum today?”
“She’s great Marj’. I called over this morning and the nursing home is delighted at how she’s settled in. It’s a beautiful place and the staff are fantastic. Poor mum, she thinks she’s on holiday. Yesterday, she told the girl that brought breakfast to pass on her compliments to the manager.”
“That’s so nice. We all love our mums, Dot, but you’ve been really kind to yours, especially since the dementia kicked in. How you juggled everything over the past three years is beyond me. And the other two barely had time to call and see her. Witches. Well. How’d it go?”
“Not great. As you know, most of the furniture ended up in a skip after me and Tom finished cleaning and clearing out mum’s house. Hopefully, when it’s rented, the money will go some way towards paying for the nursing home.”
“I don’t envy you, Dorothy.”
“Someone has to do it, Marj’. Anyway, mum still wears her rings and the string of pearls that dad gave her for their fiftieth anniversary. Bless her. She never takes off those pearls. So today it was only the family photos and a few trinkets and ornaments we’d to sort out.”
“Don’t tell me they created a hassle.”
“Catherine, the big heap, did. I wanted none of the stuff but told them I’d love to keep the old cracked Aynsley vase. For years, I’d always bring mum flowers when I called, and we’d make a big deal of arranging them in that old, tall, narrow vase. It was her favourite and since she got sick, I think she enjoys the flowers more than ever.”
“What did Catherine, the snobby cow, say?”
“She said that as she was the eldest, she should have first choice. She wanted the vase. The other one said nothing.”
“I don’t believe it. Don’t tell me you let her get away with that. Why didn’t you stand up to her?”
“Marj’. I’m drained by it all. I was going to argue, but the tears started coming. I bit my lip, sat down and thought,”
 ‘God, this isn’t fair’.
“What a horrible pair. Didn’t you keep anything?”
“Well yes. I did. Should have told you, but before they came, I took out two photos. One was me, mum, and dad on my first communion day. The other was a lovely one of dad and me taken when I won the schools debating final. He was so proud that night and it shows.”
“I think I’m going to cry, Dot. You really have the biggest heart. Did they leave after sharing out the spoils?”
“Yeah. They both had two big boxes of stuff. You will not believe this Marj’, but guess what happened when Catherine was putting the second box into her Land Rover?”
“I hope she fell and broke her leg.”
“Better than that, Marj. Much better. With her six-inch Christian Louboutin heels, she lost her balance for a second or two and wobbled. I thought she would drop the lot, but she held onto the box, but one thing fell out. Yep. The Aynsley vase. It’s in about a thousand pieces on the road.”
“Oh, my God, Dot. I don’t believe it.”
“That’s exactly what I said. ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God’. Tell you something else, Marjorie. I think I’m a believer too.


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