Monday, October 9, 2017

Excuse me Doreen has some crumbs she wants to clean up.

An extract from the Newstead Short Story Festival Tattoo
Launch Party - 
This is the story of Doreen:

Brian, Brian Brian!
Do not confuse Doreen’s lament with those of a woman in the throes of passion.
Doreen makes contact with Brian’s body, by way of a short sharp kick to the calf. Brian’s nocturnal nasal noises pause momentarily, then settle once more into their regular, rumbling inhalation and lip flapping exhalation which habitually interrupts Doreen’s sleep.
‘Brian!’ she shouts, just to feel a moment of relief. Doreen stands, then crashes back onto the bed vengefully, willing Brian’s snoring to end and wishing that she could go back to sleep. The futility of the wish leaves her fuming.

Doreen drops her legs over the side of the bed into her slippers, she slams the bedroom door then
edges along the dark passageway, her forget me not floral nightdress ballooning around her legs as she makes her way to the living room.
I remember the time I had stood out there on Brian’s lawn one Sunday, looking at the patterns that the mower had made, just waiting there alongside the garden gnome. I was there because Brian had taken it upon himself to make the gravy, out of the blue, not so much as a by your leave. He’d just got up off the chair from reading the Sunday paper, calm as you like and said:
 ‘I’ll make the gravy today.’ Just stood up, strode across the kitchen linoleum, all how’s your father? ‘I’ll make the gravy.’ He’d said. Like that’s what he did every week.
What possessed him I’ll never know. He’d got the box of Gravox down from the cupboard, scraped the meat juice from the bottom of the pan and stirred it and stirred it. I wouldn’t have minded if this is what he normally did, but it wasn’t.
I had looked pointedly at Brian whilst he’d stirred the gravy. I was wearing the expression I  normally use for when I have too much loose change in my purse. But that didn’t work. So, I tried the expression I’d used that time when we’d gone to Aunt Peggy’s funeral and afterwards in the church hall, Joan Hampshire, the woman from O’Keefe Street had come in all organized, a pavlova base, cream in a bowl already whipped and with what everyone had assumed to be a tin of passionfruit for the top.
Then out of nowhere, Joan had pulled three peppermint crisp bars from her bag and smashed them with a rolling pin. Lord only knows where that had come from. Who brings a rolling pin to a funeral?
But there she was, bold as brass, with her three peppermint crisp bars, a rolling pin, a shop bought pavlova base and some whipped cream. At a funeral.
I’d had pulled my lips tight, flared my nostrils, jutted my chin out. Then I made a braying noise, pushing the air out of my nose, quickly. I  assumed that this would have had an effect on Joan. But Joan had acted like it was the most natural thing in the world, standing there making a peppermint crisp pavlova at a funeral. Never mind that there were forty-five of Louise Dalggetty’s scones already made.
The expression hadn’t worked that day on Joan, Doreen’s neighbor, but Stella folded her arms, pressed her lips together, raised her eyes brows and had given me a quick nod of the head in approval.
I’d got that expression out the day that Brian had made the gravy. But it made no difference. Brian was even whistling whilst he stirred. I’d stood out there in the garden next to the garden gnome till it was done. I’d even left my pinny on, gone outside and stood next to the garden gnome, its nose was bulbous, its gut protruding, not unlike Brian, I’d thought at the time.

We didn’t speak about it over the roast dinner, which truth be known was a bit stringy that day.

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