"AS IF" - Maeve Heneghan
I like to visit at least twice a week. Usually I arrive around the same time, unless of course, I'm needed elsewhere. But this particular time seems to suit. Just to sit with him. I only started my regular visits a short time ago. But my time here is valuable.
As if like clockwork, when I arrive he makes a pot of tea, which has to be made, just so. He uses leaves only, never inferior teabags. Leaving his tea to draw for exactly 3 minutes, he takes out a mug. Straining the tea, he then adds a modicum of milk and 3 lumps of sugar. A sweet tooth has always been Cyril's problem. At his age that could lead to serious health problems but there's no talking to him. Cup of tea in hand, he makes his way for the chair at the head of the kitchen table. Of course his ritual would not be complete without a packet of Jammy Dodgers which he normally puts out onto the same china plate. The one with the delicate blue flowers and tiny yellow butterflies.
At about 11 O'clock, Mrs O'Reilly arrives. Today I notice she lets herself in with a key. This has never happened before. She is only the housekeeper after all. I look on as she helps herself to a cup of tea and polishes off two Jammy Dodgers. She shares a joke and a bit of a giggle with Cyril. But most shocking of all, when she's had her fill, she walks over to the cupboard and pulls out an apron. It says "kiss the cook", on the front. She ties it around her ample waist. Cyril doesn't even look up.
Why is this all so shocking, you might wonder? I'll tell you why. Cyril is drinking his tea out of my favourite mug. He is sitting in my favourite kitchen chair. The china plate is the one I only like to use on special occasions, like Christmas, when it is joined by all the others in the set. It was a wedding present from my parents. But the most upsetting, unpalatable picture of all, is seeing that corpulent housekeeper wearing my bloody apron! The one Cyril bought for me in Italy two years ago.
Oh Cyril, you fool. My body is not yet cold in its dank dark grave and you are already acting as if I were never here. It won't be long until Mrs O'Reilly is sharing your bed too. Mind you, she'll take up two thirds of it. What way is that for a 75 year old man to behave.You always had a roving eye. I was your wife for 30 years and this is how you honour my memory. Oh shame on you Cyril!
I've been quiet up to now, but I think it's time I made my presence felt.
BIO: Maeve Heneghan started her career as a Drama teacher. Then the wonderful opportunity to live and work in China presented itself. After living and working in China for a number of years, she returned to Ireland and is now living in the Midlands with her husband and daughter. Maeve has been writing poetry and short stories for two years now and has had poetry and flash fiction pieces published online and in print.