Northwords Now Issue 38

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Julie Galante

We rarely had plans on a Saturday. We’d wake up early and then gleefully sink back into half-sleep when we realised we had no place to be but bed. Every inch of my length delighted in the feel of your skin. Eventually one of us (usually you) would get up and make coffee and bring it back to bed. We really should get a weekend butler, we’d say. He could be making us breakfast right now while we drink coffee in bed. Let’s start a business, a weekend butler business. Everyone will want one. 

    It wasn’t the butler, but I, who made breakfast. Omelettes with mushrooms, spinach, and gruyere; huevos rancheros topped with that good salsa from the little Mexican shop; pancakes with a sauce of blood oranges and cardamom. Sometimes you’d run out to get bread while I cooked. While we ate, we’d discuss what to do with the weekend. Shall we go for a hike? See some art? Go out for dinner? Spend the day on the sofa? Sometimes breakfast lasted until well after noon, and we’d scramble to get out of the house before the early winter sundown. We’d end up on our default walk to the supermarket, a detour to visit the duck pond along the way. We’d stop to watch the swans, the coots, the moorhen. We’d count the number of cygnets and speculate whether it was a fox or a heron that had made off with the missing one. We’d listen to the clack the coots (or is it the moorhen?) make with their bills when someone got too close. 

    If the weather was fine, we’d wander through the Botanics as well, marvelling at the new growth since last time we were there. We’d try to guess how old the big plant fossil was before looking at the sign. We’ve done it before, but who can remember the difference between 50 (my guess) and 300 (your guess) million years? We’d walk by the student garden plots and speculate on what we’ll grow in our allotment, when we get one. Just nine more years on the waiting list! Then I can make you fried courgette flowers again. 

    Eventually we’d get to the shop. It’d be crowded, Saturday afternoon and all, but I would hardly notice. We had all the time in the world, meandering through the produce aisle, waiting for inspiration to strike. The artichokes look lovely today. As does the mint - shall we have mojitos? What about lasagne? Pizza? Enchiladas? Margaritas? Crepes? Our evening meal would be invented as we went. You’d carry all the heavy things home. 

    While I washed and chopped vegetables, you’d start on the cocktails. First step: google cocktail recipe. More often than not, I’d get impatient, take over and make them myself, sloshing-in unmeasured amounts of liquids and ice, assigning you another task. You were happy to do whatever I asked, and all the dishes, too. You always told people what a wonderful cook I was, how lucky you were to get to eat the food I made every day, but I knew I was the lucky one, doing all the fun part while you got stuck with the washing up.

    It’s possible I expected Saturdays to stop occurring after your death, but no, they just keep coming. I avoid shopping if I can. The crowds constrict my movement; I don’t want to linger. I spot the fresh coriander and remember the tacos they inspired; glimpse the tubs of pesto that reminded us we hadn’t made our own in a while. Tears appear in the corner of my eyes, falling onto my glasses when I try to blink them away. I hurriedly toss some essentials into my trolley and head home. Not too much - I have to carry it all myself. Nothing that requires much preparation or cooking time - I can’t be bothered. And no cocktail ingredients anymore - I can’t trust myself not to down the whole bottle of booze in one night. What else is there to do? I rarely have plans on a Saturday.