Posts Tagged ‘Meredith’

Eat by Tuesday or freeze

In Brenton, Christine, Meredith, Paul, Rose, Sue on June 29, 2006 at 11:38 am

There was a new lasagne on the top shelf when Brenton got home and that made three this week.

It was from Sue.

He could see that without taking it out of the fridge. The post-it note was pink (eat by Tuesday or freeze) and the glad wrap was in a tight double layer. It would not stick to the bottom when he dished it out. The sauce would be thick and rich and the layers of pasta would be smooth.

The lasagne would not need salt or extra tomato sauce.

It was not a big dish. Most of them had stopped leaving big dishes. Still, it would be too much for them to finish. Dad was eating hardly anything and Rose never stayed for tea anymore.

That didn’t stop her opening the fridge first thing whenever she came over.

They all think I don’t do enough, don’t they?’ Rose said it about every lasagne, stew and casserole they left. She opened the fridge before she put her bag on the table, before she flicked through the notes next to the telephone. And even when there had been Mum to go and see, the fridge was the first thing Rose did. ‘They think I can’t cope, that I should do more. I can’t do everything, you know. It’s hard enough looking after Max as it is. They’ve forgotten how much work a baby is…’.

Dad had AC/DC playing out in the shed. High Voltage. It wasn’t one he normally played. He hadn’t played much AC/DC lately at all. It had been all Hey Jude in the day and Songs of Love and Hate at night.

Brenton took the parcel from the second shelf. It was a bowl wrapped in a sticky plastic bag held together with masking tape. The masking tape had grey fluff caught along the edges and a long black hair caught underneath. Christine was the only one who didn’t leave notes about how long to warm it (30 minutes in a pre-warmed oven, 180 degrees) or what to add (half a cup of milk, one tablespoon of cream to taste).

He wondered, sometimes, what her family ate. How it would be to live with someone whose voice warbled like that, whose laugh screeched even at jokes that only needed a smile.

Brenton pulled the bag away, but he did not look long at what was inside. He walked across the room and took the large spoon from the top drawer.

He held the pot over the bin.

The pot was heavy, and it was hard to hold it with just one hand while he scraped with the other. His stomach did not turn at the moist noise and the cold smell of the food, but the sound of the spoon against the clay pot was the sound of fingernails on a blackboard.

He thought of the pages of the book they had been reading to Mum. The cover was orange and blue and he had broken the spine – more than once – so the book would stay open in his lap. The paper was not quite white and rough, and Brenton had rubbed his palm across each new page. He had wanted to clench his teeth and to bite at his lip, but he kept reading. He read even when he knew Mum couldn’t hear.

Brenton stood up straight, took the empty pot and put it in the sink. He turned the hot tap on hard and flicked his finger back and forth under the water as he waited for it to warm up. Then he squeezed the detergent in then walked away.

If he left it in the sink like that, someone would wash it tomorrow after they put another meal in the fridge.