You were meant to be watching him

by Lucy Rose Williams

You were meant to be watching him’ she said quietly as she passed me, carrying the kettle to the sink.

I put my black boot on the rusting metal lever of the white plastic kitchen bin and held a plate over its whale-like mouth.

‘I can’t bear to throw this away’ I said to her on her return journey, staring at the last piece of bread and butter I would ever prepare for his supper.

‘What else are you supposed to do with it? ’ She replied, marking the end of the conversation with a forceful flicking on of the switch.

The cheap thin white bread, once perfectly flat, was curled up at the sides, and the thick margarine, already artificially yellow from the outset, was almost orange in parts by now, with an extra film of jelly-like grease starting to form on the surface. It glistened and glowed under the stark tubular light in the kitchen, and seemed to be the only colour I saw on that monochrome day. The dated kitchen was lined with stark white cupboards, with different shades of grey trim on the handles, and smatterings of grey flecks in the formika worktops. Weary mourners leant their grey and black bodies against the pale cupboards, their duty coming to an end.

I wanted to keep that last supper forever, that bread that I used to be embarrassed to buy in the shops, the spread that I warned him about every evening at 9.

I wanted to keep it in a plastic box to look at every day. I wanted to use it as my punishment. I would make myself stare at it every day as a reminder of what I hadn’t done.

When they’d come to take his body out on the stretcher I had snuck into the kitchen to make it. I’d covered it in clingfilm and put it in the cupboard. It was the only job I had been asked to do. I had to do it. No matter how late I was.

‘It stinks,’ she said as she snatched it from me, clingfilm, plate and all, and dropped into the bin. She elbowed me away so that my foot left the lever and the lid snapped shut.

I felt for the spare key in my pocket.

I would come back and get it tomorrow evening at 9.

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