Stacey makes a life changing decision while preparing her partner's dinner.
Stacey was washing the spuds at eight o’clock, great heavy tears streaming down her flushed cheeks; she could cry when Digger was working late. His absence meant that her tears could fall.
She knew he would stagger through the door atnine o’clock, reeking of grease, expecting her to serve him up some proper food after a day hauling deep-fried rubbish.
Stacey dropped the final peeled, washed potato into the pot, listening to the dull, heavy clunk as it dropped to the bottom. Her heart wrenched at the sad, hopeless sound.
Six years she’d been doing this. Six years since she had sat in a lecture next to Lucy, the pair of them eager to learn. Six years since that stupid drunken night that had seemed like the best of her life.
As she shut off the faucet, she recalled how Digger had smelt the first while they had known each other; heavy cologne that had made her weak at her foolish teenage knees. He had given up wearing the cologne long ago. He was sure that Stacey would never leave him, no matter how he smelt.
Stacey carried the pot to the stove, feeling the water swirl in the bottom. She had packed up once, with every intention of leaving him. Her heart sped up at the memory; trembling in the dark, packed cases by her side, staring at Digger’s hard face as he slept, oblivious. Achingly certain that nobody else would have him, care about him like she did. Feeling sick as she tossed everything back into the wardrobe, undressed and crawled back beneath the sheets next to her boyfriend.
He had opened his eyes for a moment, and smiled drowsily at her. He stroked her cheek with a cool finger before dropping back to sleep.
Stacey switched on the stove as Lucy ran once again through her mind. They hadn’t been in touch a lot since Stacey left college, though Stacey was sure Lucy must be a doctor by now. It was something Stacey resented thinking about, for it sent her into incredible fits of envy. Right now she could have finished her studies and become a paediatrician – she could have avoided the crushing disappointment in her parents’ faces as she revealed that she was pregnant and leaving college. And then again when she revealed that theywouldn’tbecome grandparents after her miscarriage… She could have realized what Digger was like, and waited out for somebody with ambition, somebody who still wanted a family after her first pregnancy failed.
Instead, she was crying her eyes out over the spuds, awaiting the arrival of a man she wasn’t even sure she loved. No babies, no career.
She raked her fingers through her short blonde hair, eyes darting around the kitchen. A packet of rashers and three unpeeled carrots laid waiting on the sheen marble counter, next to a stained black frying pan and dull silver saucepan. The gleaming white and orange tiled walls seemed to be closing in around her.
She took one fleeting footstep towards the door to the hall before pausing. After six years she’d realized how Digger wasn’t too bothered with meat or vegetables. He just loved his spuds.
Stacey glanced at the pot, watching bubbles dance to the surface, and escape into the air. Stacey made a grab for the magnetic shopping list that clung to the refrigerator.
After scrawling a hurried note and sticking it on the worktop next to the stove, she tore off for the stairs as though her life was depending on it.
“Digger. I can’t do it anymore. Maybe I’ll see you again. I need to live first.
Stacey. P.S. The spuds are on.”