This is a short story I wrote as part of my writing portfolio on the Creative Writing course. The main themes of the story were: self, family, identity, and using the theme of Food as a metaphor for these ideas. It is inspired by the novel Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, an uplifting novel about Grief, Loss, and Family dynamics, set around the preparation, making and sharing of Food.
Enjoy your weekend, fellow bloggers 🙂
She’s in the kitchen again. We can hear her searching for mum’s cooking utensils, pulling out the vegetable rack, throwing dirty spuds into the sink for scrubbing. The stovetop flame is set to hot, the kitchen warm and steamy. My brother and I peer through the kitchen window, giggle as we watch her ample backside waddle around, hands wet and shiny from being plunged into a mass of peelings. She’s dressed in a colourful flowered pinny and sensible Clarks shoes, the granny ones that she swears are good for her bunions. My brother’s best friend Pete is with us, as well as a handful of kids from our street, eager to taste the golden crunchiness of the fries, spitting happily in the frying pan. We are not allowed access, not until she’s finished cooking. But we don’t mind, our young bodies are tired and footsore, playing out all afternoon. We are happy to watch and learn, eager to taste her chippy supper.
Its Saturday night and my parents out on their usual jaunt to the local Social Club. My gran babysits us every Saturday, has done for years. She loves her time with us; we can tell by the swing of her hips, the cheery sounds she makes listening to Radio Two. We love having her over too, and so do the local kids. We are as excited as kids can be at that age, in a world of Action Man and Atari games, to see her struggling out of my dad’s car, arms loaded down with goodies. She always has a huge bag, colourful butterflies splashed on its side. She greets us with a big bear hug, almost encasing us in her bosom. She smells of cake and lavender talc, bought from the local Avon lady.
My mother knows her routines of old and frowns as she walks into our house, plonks her bag onto the sofa.
‘Mum,’ she’d say, with a shake of her head. ‘The kids won’t have a tooth in their heads if it was up to you!’
‘Nonsense,’ my gran would reply. ‘I always make sure they brush their teeth before bed. Now get along with you; enjoy yourselves. I’ll just put the kettle on.’
Then she would disappear into the kitchen and mum was none the wiser. We knew what she was up to though. Her mission was to peel as many spuds as she could, to feed us and any other kids that passed through. I swear the neighbourhood parents knew of her too. It was an easy ride for them when gran was at our house; no cooking and the kids out of the way until bedtime. She’d peel and fry, then peel and fry again, shaking the pan across the stove top to get a crispy coating on all sides. The chips would behave beautifully; warm and golden, smothered in salt and tomato sauce.
Then she would open the back door, step out onto the patio. The sun would be a deep red globe over the rooftops as she’d dish out the golden fingers, bread slices arranged around one of mum’s roasting plates. The salt and vinegar would fly off in all directions as we’d hunker down for our supper, safe in the knowledge that while our bellies were full, the world was a good place. We would huddle together if it was chilly, under the safety of my dad’s huge clematis, and watch the stars appear. The chips would be hot and sticky with tomato pulp as we shovelled them; fingers burning at the hot grease, mouths tingling with spicy sauce. Then we would giggle to ourselves, tummies bloated, knowing that we were way past our bedtime. But we were safe under granny’s watch. For it was her that let us be ourselves; to run around after dark, eat chips under a twinkly night, wrap our bodies in warm blankets while we watched the sun set.
Suzanne Bowditch, 2017
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