The foldaway heart

February 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

The roast beef is a bit dry today, he’s thinking, and he’s wondering if the chef has changed since he was last here. Opposite, his mother sits and stares at him. She won’t say much nowadays.

Sometimes he wonders if she’s all there, but then she’ll get upset on the telephone if he doesn’t visit, starts crying, so what’s he supposed to do?

His wife tuts. She’s like that. Thinks the world revolves round her. People say it’s because they don’t have children, that she never had to think about anyone else, but he thinks it’s because he was soft on her. He spoiled her like you might a child or a dog. Gave her anything.

His mother never liked her. Didn’t hide it, either, so now when he drives up to see his mother it’s with the sound of his wife’s snide jibes echoing round his head.

Just a middle-aged man and his mother, having a bite to eat in a country pub, out in this weatherbeaten little village. God knows she deserves a bit of kindness. She gets lonely. Well, you would, wouldn’t you, stuck out here with nobody to talk to, and his dad gone these past five years and all.

He’d not be long, he’d said, and already he’s staring at his mother’s plate, at her barely touched meal, and wondering about dessert.

He’ll be back down to the town within the hour, back to the house with its cushions just so and its lavender-scented toilet; driving away from the moorland that he loves, and his mother who misses him so.

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