'The Rota' by Jo Derrick
Salome is looking shabby. Time to give her a bit of a hand-wash. I don’t know why I called her Salome. It suited her, I suppose. My Arthur thought I was mad naming a knitted toilet roll cover, but I have names for all my bits-and-bobs. Last Wednesday in the month today and so ‘cleaning out the china cabinet day’. As I swirl the Fairy Liquid in warm water, I think how Mother told me to always keep to my list of chores, no matter what. Arthur died on the third Thursday in February. It was ‘clean the horse-brasses’ day. Once the Powers That Be had dealt with him, I set to. Now, whenever I do the brasses, I think of Arthur, his chin on his chest and his arms folded neatly. The nurses thought I was bonkers when I told them what I was rushing home for. There was no point hanging around, though, was there? I’m just drying off The Royal Albert when I hear the back gate click. Bloody Susan again. Wonder what she wants to borrow this time? “Lena? Just coming to see you’re all right. Remember it’s your turn to do the flowers tomorrow. It’s orange tones week.” Autumn already. Where has the year gone? I give Arthur’s urn a pat to remind myself that it’s been over six months since he passed. “I know. Time flies. I’d offer you a cup of tea, but I’ve still got The Crown Derby to do. Mind Salome on your way out. She’s having a soak.” It’s only later when I’m watching Eggheads that I remember there’s something else on tomorrow. Church flowers and..... Arthur Day. Every Thursday I bake Arthur’s favourite cake in his memory, knowing when I take a bite that a bit of my loving husband has gone into it. Susan says it’s sacrilege putting a spot of Arthur’s homemade wine into a Madeira, but she misunderstood me when I told her about my secret ingredient. I go and rinse out Salome and hang her up to dry, then I pop round next door to ask Susan for my cake tin back. She gives me one of her looks. When I get home, I take one of my best silver spoons and unscrew the lid of the urn. Not much of my Arthur left now, but I know how it used to make him smile when I said I loved him so much I could eat him.