Posts Tagged ‘Rose’

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.


Yvette and Pip: New Year’s Eve (1996)

In Coral, Dino Turci, Karen Fenn, Marco Turci, Pip, Rose, Sue, Vi, Yvette on May 30, 2006 at 1:36 pm

‘There’s a bit of a sing-a-long in the dining room tonight, I’m afraid,’ Yvette said. ‘Vi’s been practising Tipperary all afternoon. You’ve probably heard.’

Pip had. That and what a friend we have in Jesus. Songs he had never expected to learn.

He gave one long, slow blink.

‘Wouldn’t be so bad if she could remember the bloody words,’ Yvette said, then she laughed. It was the kind of laugh that meant no harm.

Yvette fussed with the newspapers. She picked them off the bed section by section, folding them neatly, putting them in a pile.

The papers had been there since ten o’clock when Coral had put them down, told Pip she would be back in a moment. Just need to powder my nose is what she said.

Pip didn’t mind that Coral had never come back. Coral’s voice grated and she stumbled across commas, took no notice of full stops.

It would be good when Rose came back from Queensland and started doing the newspapers again. Rose had a voice which was soft and light and you could tell that she was thinking while she read.

Pip couldn’t remember how long Rose had been gone. People didn’t write that kind of thing on his calendar. They had asterisked Christmas and highlighted new year’s eve. Mum had been through and written all the important birthdays in red. But no one had written Rose back into one of the squares.

‘We’re not supposed to leave you in in your rooms tonight,’ Yvette said. She folded the newspaper into neat sections. ‘We’re supposed to make you all join in. Because of New Year’s Eve.’ She folded the final piece of newspaper back into place, then looked up and as far into Pip’s eyes as she could. ‘So it might be a bit late before I get back. It might be eight or so before I can see you again. Is that OK?’

Yvette nodded before she looked away. She took a few steps towards the door and put the folded newspaper on the chair by the door. ‘Yeah, anything’s better than another bloody sing-a-long, I reckon.’ Yvette closed her eyes and took a deep, but silent breath before she turned to face Pip again.

There was nothing like New Year’s Eve for turning lonely into lonelier.

She took the few steps across the room so that she could be closer to him. She bent down so she was looking directly at him. Her knees clicked loudly as she squatted.

It means you’ll get arthritis. That’s what Karen Fenn had said when they were still at school. Yvette could still see the way Karen Fenn flicked her ponytail as she spoke. She could see the blue eyeliner Karen Fenn had used every day and no teachers asked her to take it off. She could see the short skirts and the even tan. Karen Fenn was allowed to put colours through her hair.

Yvette ran the fingers on both her hands through her hair, pulled her hair back from her face and off the back of her neck. She should have worn it up today. She should have made an effort. Even if she had to work it was still New Year’s Eve.

‘D’you remember Karen Fenn?’ Yvette asked. ‘Tall she was. Married Marco Turci. That’s Dino Turci’s brother.’ She looked at Pip then shook her head. ‘Before your time I s’pose. She moved away years ago.’ She smiled at him. ‘She had lovely long fingers and her nails never seemed to break.’

Karen Fenn wouldn’t be working in an Old Folks Home on New Year’s Eve, Yvette thought. Karen Fenn wouldn’t care about the triple time and she wouldn’t offer to do the shift because she knew she wouldn’t have anything else to do anyway and you were better at work than you were down the pub where everyone else would be kissing the love of their lives.

Yvette let her hands and her hair fall. She wished she didn’t still think about Karen Fenn. As if Karen Fenn ever thought about her.

‘You’ve already had enough of sing-a-longs, haven’t you, mate?’ Yvette asked Pip. She put her hand on his. His skin was softer than it had ever been.

She pulled her hand away, then stood up, crossing her arms over her chest.

At moments like this she always used to say I know, love, I know. She used to say that to him a lot. I know. But she just nodded at him now.

Yvette smiled at him then stood up. ‘I might turn that off,’ she said. She flicked her head at the television. There were too many nurses and too many visitors left the television on. ‘It makes a racket, doesn’t it? And there’s nothing on the bloody thing.’ She reached up to the television and turned it off. ‘There’s no company in a television,’ Yvette said.

It was something she would have left as a thought in any other room.

‘You look nice today,’ Yvette said. She squinted as she looked more closely at him. ‘Is that shirt new?’ She stopped talking, nodded and smiled. ‘Thought so. That blue really suits you.’ She squinted.

‘Oh, hello,’ Yvette said. ‘Look who’s here.’ She stood up, wiped the palms of her hands down her uniform. It was looking bloody grubby now, wasn’t it?

She should have done the washing last night. You couldn’t wear a uniform two days in a row.

‘Is it still hot out there?’ Yvette asked.

Sue nodded. ‘Scorching. Gauge at our place says forty one. And that’s in the shade.’

‘Better off in here, aren’t I?’ Yvette said and she was sorry as soon as she said the words. It was a stupid thing to say in front of him. In front of his mother.

Apologising would make it worse.

‘I’ll leave you two in peace for a while, shall I?’

Pip blinked. Once for yes. Then blinked again.

Which must have been a mistake or maybe she’d seen it wrong.