dirty little secret

Can-you-keep-a-secret-400x300

My wife is one of those people that has to live in a spotless environment, I think it is why we don’t have kids yet but that’s a whole other story. I am not naturally neat, I like to leave my clothes on the floor overnight and decide what can be worn again in the morning. The last time my clothes lay in a heap overnight was on the day before we married.
Of course we can’t know everything about our spouses before we marry, even if we have lived over the brush for a while. Something changes in the exchange of rings, everything we have held in check whilst puffing up our feathers to catch our mate is let out like a long silent fart.
So my wife has borderline obsessive compulsive disorder, a neat freak, everything having a place and it being kept in that place. I can work around her, because she is the love of my life. I know us macho males aren’t supposed to admit it, but when she arrived into my circle of friends, I had to have her. As a result I put away the forks exactly as she likes them placed in the green baize lined drawers, I pick up my clothes at night and place them all in the hamper regardless of soiling because she likes the smell of of my cologne through pristinely pressed linen shirts and I always take off and put away my outdoor shoes before entering the apartment just because.
In all of this seemingly one-sided compromise, I have a dirty little secret. Something that if she knew I can only assume we would part ways, so I am very careful. Once a month I lock myself into the bathroom, remove the third tile on the far wall, reach in and take out my matchboxes. I spread out the contents on the floor and just smile, then I add ten more to my collection. After ten to fifteen minutes of admiring my toenail hoard I collect them up into their boxes in a totally random and ramshackle manner adding to the pleasure. I don’t go as far as to speak to them but I do smile one last time thinking of all the years I have been collecting them, smug about the secret and remembering the love I have for Selena, my wife that makes living in this clinical atmosphere bearable.

Talenkynic arrives in Dromdrevc

It was decided I would die on my birthday, my parents and the guardians agreed. Death was to take place in the Quuadravik. The town square. All the ritual killings took place there and for my parents there was honour attached to the place of my death. Lesser children were killed by the Gorthachiv, the garbage hole, and disposed of immediately. My body would be in repose for a week, to allow celebrations and fraternising of the higher families.

My schooling stopped on the day the deal was set, there was a month for my body to be prepared for the day. Each morning I took a ritual bath whilst bitter herbs infused the water and honey, cleansing every part of me. In the afternoon my hair was plaited in the intricate patterns, one for each day, I carried a countdown calendar to my own demise on my head. Evenings were spent with the local guardian, it was their responsibility to ensure my mind, heart and innards were scourged of the evil that had brought this death penalty to me.

What crime did I commit? That of laziness, around the Quuadravik was the Path of Right Thinking, the local rule was: To step on the Path, a person must complete the entire Path before continuing their journey. I was walking with Dorinek, listening to his boasts, not caring about the unlikeliness of the tales because he had the most gorgeous blue eyes and they were concentrating on me. A classic case of girl meets boy, in being in this bubble of “teen love” I accidentally stepped onto the Path. I lithely jumped across as if I hadn’t touched it and continued gazing into those blue eyes. Dorinek told me to go back, he got all grumpy with me and stalked off, I didn’t see him again. From what I heard he immediately told the guardian of my folly and the rest is history.

So there I was on the afternoon of my birthday, plaited, dressed and ready for the procession to the town square when the great guardian arrived from Dromdrevc. My parents although quite high in our town, were not high enough for a visit from him on a death day. But there he was, and there I was and very shortly afterwards the two of us were in Dromdrevc in front of the guardianship…

The Turf Bank

As I bent down once again creating the stook at the edge of the bank I cursed my absent husband. It was the one place, and the one job that I missed him most, turf. Three hours so far today I had been stooping and placing sods of turf in the intricate design known as a stook, many hours this year I had spent turning and footing the damned stuff. It was his smell that surrounded me, his voice in my ear. Not sweet nothings, it is an extensive rulebook, little stories ran through my mind like the day he came back from the bog berating poor Jerry Pa.

“Girl, a fierce day at the bog, the wind would cut ye in two. Saw young Jerry Pa, what a scoundrel, his daddy would roll over in his grave to see him trat the sods like that. His turf’ll be so wet and heavy he’ll never raise smoke from his fireplace this winter. Took it straight off the ground and threw it into an abstract kind of a stook. Tis no way to treat turf. Treat it right and it’ll warm the coldest of hearts come winter.”

 

I remember when I first asked in all innocence what a foot was. He laughed heartily “Maybe the villagers are right about ye, a flighty young one from the city, knowing nothing about turf. Lil you’ll be at the bog one day, and I’ll tell ye, all in good time.”

 

I was from Cork city, a civilised place with gas to heat us in the winter and a coal fire on special occasions. I married Dan when I was twenty two, fresh out of college and full of life, Dan was a fully paid up member of the bachelor club until I arrived this year according to the old men gossiping after Mass, he was forty four.

We had first met when I was sixteen and running away from home because my brother, the sneaky little pup had stolen my diary and read it to the gang of kids we hung out with. Full of teenager-angst he told them all I had a crush on Timmy, the unofficial leader of our pack. My diary no more said those words than if the Pope had a baby, himself. So I was on the train to Mallow, with a bag of clothes, a tenner and a packet of biscuits. Dan, was just the man sitting opposite, nose in a book, he didn’t blip on my radar, owld one. The train had been getting up speed over the viaduct when it made a sudden stop. Dan fell forward over the table and we banged heads.

 

Through apologies and smiles, I noticed he had wrinkly lines around deep blue eyes. The guard didn’t come down to tell us why we’d stopped and we started to chat pondering on the situation ideas from cow on the track to alien attack, we had great fun laughing at the more preposterous stories. He had a flask of tea and offered me some so I got out my food store and we had a mini picnic. He was great fun for such an old man.

We became friends, he helped me through the tough teenage years by phone and by letter. Dan encouraged me to continue my studies and he began a courtship, old-fashioned courtship of me, during my college years. The day of my last exam, he swept me off to Kerry and proposed in The Square, Listowel. We married months later, no children were to grace our step but he was a good man and I still missed him five years on. Crying softly to myself I bent down and continued the ritual of stooking.

Spaghetti

“What was that thing, our Theresa said about cooking pasta?”

“Darren, what are you wittering on about. Theresa can’t boil an egg. She knows nothing about food, never mind something forreign like pasta. Remember when we had her and Terry round for tea last month, she accused me of using tomatoes that were off? You know, the little yellow ones. She wouldn’t eat the salad and then smashed one of my best dishes washing up. Honestly Darren! Look, get out of the kitchen and set the table, your boss’ll be here soon.”

“No, Caro, listen, it wasn’t pasta exactly, mmm, oh yeah, it was spaghetti, is that pasta?”

“Oh Darren, bless, you really are as bad as your sister. Yes of course spaghetti is pasta but it comes in tins with the sauce already with it. Tsk, Darren, gerroff me,” as Darren lunged for a quick cuddle by the sink.

“Oh wait Caro, it’s all coming back to me. Last April there was that programme about April Fools Day hoaxes. They had on the man what shrunk people to get in the aeroplanes, he’s dead isn’t he?”

“Yes, Darren, love please I need to find my recipe for this pasta surprise, it was in ‘Bella’,”

“Well on that programme they had a black and white clip, there was a guy in Italy, and they were harvesting the spaghetti off the trees. I remember cos Terry didn’t think it was hoax and we all laughed.”

“Oh yeah, I know what you are talking about now, a button fell off my blouse I laughed so hard, pass me that tin of mushrooms, love.”

“Theresa said, ”

“Darren give it a rest, Mr Plimkin will be here in five minutes and I haven’t even started the “Angel Delight”

“Caro, Theresa said boiling water, salt, twist the spaghetti throw it in and after seven minutes take one piece out and throw it at the wall. If it is cooked it sticks to the wall.”

“Darren Cooper, you really take the biscuit, if you think for one minute I am sending a piece of pasta to stick on my beautiful turquoise tiles, after spending, oh yeah well anyway, no, I just need to find the recipe, it’s here somewhere. Now, go, shoo, and remember to take their coats, love, go on, I love you.”

Meanwhile outside, Mr Plimkin and the glamorous Mrs P were arriving. “Sweets, please eat a little of everything, it is going to be dreadful, but we can’t be seen to be snooty, I need young Darren on my side with all the redundancies going off we need to keep a couple of young fellows, and he is one of the least offensive. I overheard him on the phone with his wife Caroline, they are serving Angel Delight and mandarin oranges. One shudders to think what the entree will be.”

“Just you wait Plimpy, I had better get that spa week next month. You do ask an awful lot of me. Come on then, let’s get it over with.