Marlene tapped her feet and shimmied her shoulders to the song on the radio, as Helen O’ Connell, her voice as sweet as a teaspoon of sugar, asked Dean Martin how he’d like his eggs. He wanted them with kisses and hugs. But who wanted love when you were cooking breakfast at six o’ clock in the morning?
Marlene slid the eggs into the middle of the frying pan with a silver spatula, but she pierced the yolk. The runny smooth yellow clashed with the crispness of the white. Now the yolk would cook too quickly. The smell of the eggs made her shudder. It didn’t matter whether they were in a sandwich, a cheese omelette or soaked into a piece of fried bread, her stomach churned. A drop of oil spat out at her – she hissed back and screwed her nose up at the pan.
She tried to picture herself swooning in Ernie’s arms – it was difficult.
‘Breakfast’s ready,’ she shouted up the stairs.
‘Coming! Don’t rush me I’m putting on my tie.’ Ernie was probably standing in front of the mirror fiddling with his collar, and smoothing Brylcreem over his greasy grey hair. Hers was thick and curly, everyone said it was smashing.
She’d put the toast on too soon, it had almost burnt. Marlene doubted he’d even notice; he was a bulldog with a droopy lip and protruding teeth. He opened up his mouth and the food went in. She had to turn away so that she didn’t have to watch his jaws moving up and down as he chewed. She wondered if he tasted a thing.
Marlene took a vase of pale mauve lilac and put it on the breakfast table. She’d picked them from the garden late last night whilst Ernie was dozing in his armchair. She hoped the scent would mask the smell of the eggs.
The song was coming to an end, and Dean and Helen were satisfied with the world.
Ernie came in and sat down at the table, an early morning scowl on his face. She buttered the toast and then slid the eggs from the pan, one by one onto the white china plate. He liked them kept separate.
‘Didn’t you hear me say I fancied a poached egg today, Marlene?’ He stabbed the first egg with the prongs of his fork.
Marlene threw the frying pan onto the lino and let the oil go wherever it wished.
‘Bloody hell, woman……’ He jumped up, knocking his plate of eggs onto the floor. ‘Now I‘ll have to put a new shirt and tie on.’
‘Whatever you like, Ernie.’
Marlene did a twirl as she swept out of the kitchen to the last beat of the song.
Inspired by How do you like your eggs? sung by Dean Martin and Helen O’Connell.
And Bridget’s Whelan’s Monday exercise. Thank you to all!