Marge couldn’t help choking as she breathed in the vinegar. Her eyes were watering, yet she continued to slice the onions.
“How many years have I been telling you,” came a weathered voice from the living room, “you can buy that stuff at the shops.”
“It doesn’t taste the same,” said Marge as she reached for a chilli to add to the mixture. “Henry’s dead and Henry loved my pickles.”
Bert appeared in the doorway now, an old man with silver hair that didn’t quite match his wife’s volume.
“Do we have to go to the funeral? I never liked that man. And he’s not exactly going to climb out of the coffin to eat your pickles.”
Marge wiped a tear with the edge of her apron. “These damn onions,” she said.
Bert shrugged. “They say it’s the eyes. That if you cover them, the whiff won’t be able to make you cry.”
“A fine help I’d be to anyone if I covered my eyes,” she spat.
Marge went quiet. There was only so long you could try not to see things, try not to cry, she thought to herself.
As Bert walked across the kitchen, scratching his chest and snorting in that way that seemed to cut right through her, she sat heavily on the three-legged wooden stool behind her.
Marge thought back to the first time she had sat on that stool. She was a young girl then, pretty they told her. It was 1938 and she opened the large brown envelope anxiously. There it was, in black and white. Nursing Diploma. Margery Whitestone.
Her father stepped into the kitchen.
“Daddy I did it! I passed.”
He shrugged. “Still don’t know what the point is. You’ll marry a good man and look after him. Not some stranger in a hospital bed.”
Marge gulped. But she put the paper back in the envelope, swallowed her feelings and smiled.
“There’s the big dance tonight. Mum would have wanted me to go.”
“Yes,” she would he said.
That night would be the first time she met Henry.