Friday Fictioneers: Slices of love

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

Nan didn’t have a fire in the kitchen.

If it was cold, she’d turn on the gas oven, leaning inside with the ticking lighter, me listening for the whoomf of the burner, watching for the sapphire flame.

I’d sit on the step with the musty scent of linoleum and coconut matting, the plastic tang of cyclamen growing in the lean-to, impatient for slices of thick white toast slathered in butter, a cup of Cadbury’s hot chocolate.

She’d peer into the grill, owl eyes made large by pebble glasses, hands on hips as the toast crisped.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

When I saw the old range and kettle, I instantly thought of my Nanny Cuthbert – or Lou as she was called – my dad’s mum. We’d regularly visit her in her terraced house in Uxbridge on the outskirts of London and she showed her love with food: toast cut straight from the loaf; hot chocolate; beef suet pudding cooked in an enamel dish.

Her kitchen had changed very little since the war (bear in mind I was a child in the 1970s and 80s) and to some extent resembled the kitchen below from the Imperial War Museum – though Nan did have the ‘mod-con’ of a water heater above the sink.

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How to measure happiness

 

Happiness used to be measured by the size of the ice cream I held, by the ribbons of raspberry sauce looped over the top, the chocolate flake pressed into the middle. By watching the toy ballerina in a jewellery box twirl, imagining myself wearing the same pink tulle, spinning like a dainty top on pointed toes. It used to be Tiswas and squashing Jelly Tots together to make burgers and colouring in my poster of hot air balloons, keeping within the lines.

Now I know more.

I know sugar should not bring me happiness (though it still often does), I know I will never wear pink tulle and that the Royal Ballet rarely accept clumsy forty eight year old dancers with knock knees. I know Tiswas wasn’t as good as I thought it was and that keeping within the lines in life will not necessarily bring me the rewards I think it should.

The weight of all this should bear down on me, should press the happiness from my cynic’s heart.

But it doesn’t.

I am happy with what I have, with who I am and with the people who love me and who I love. And that’s enough. That’s everything.


To understand the nonsense that were Jelly Tots and Tiswas, see here and here.