Friday, 14 November 2008

Sardines and martyrs

"You can't go to work like that."

"I've got to," says Francis, struggling out of bed.

"Surely they can function without you, especially when you're being sick every 20 minutes."

"Ten minutes, now," he says. "'scuse me." He marches, rather hastily, off in the direction of the loo.

"Why does Daddy have to go to the office when he's ill?" asks Deborah.

"He's a martyr to his job," I say.

"What's a martyr?"

"Somebody who suffers greatly, often for a cause they believe in," I say.

"Do sardines count as a cause?" says Beth, who has wandered in and is now leaning against one of the kitchen units, looking on while I unpack the dishwasher.

"In Daddy's case, I think so," I say. "And WHY AREN'T YOU HELPING ME? WHY AM I DOING ALL THIS ON MY OWN AGAIN. YOU'RE NEARLY FIFTEEN!"

Such is the volume of my screaming that the cat and dog both fight to be the first to exit through the pet flap. There's the crack of glasses fracturing in the cupboards while, outside, ancient trees crash to the ground. In the distance, I think I can hear a plane's engines cut out and restart again.

"Why are you so cross?" says Beth. "You know I never notice things that need doing so if you want help you'll have to remind me. I keep telling you but you just don't listen."

She saunters over to the dishwasher and from the assorted plates, pans, crockery removes a very small teaspoon. Holding this carefully between the ends of two just nail polished fingers, she takes it over to the cutlery drawer and puts it in.

Francis, still white about the gills, reappears.

"What's all the shouting?" he says. "It's not going to help Leo's behaviour at school?"

I take a deep breath.

"IT'S BETH!" I shout just as Beth, equally loudly yells, "MUM JUST - "

"Must go," says Francis. "I'd have a nice cup of tea."

"If you're really throwing up every ten minutes I calculate it's going to take you six hours to get to work," I say.

"Better get going then," says Francis and leaves.

1 comment:

The Boisterous Butterfly said...

Poor guy, he is so dedicated to his job, but you have to be in this day and age, otherwise you could find your self without one.

Beth is really trying very hard, isn't she? Bless her little heart. At least she's telling you what she needs. That's quite an improvement in communication.