Mulch

by | Aug 2, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Four

Mummy likes specific things.

Specific things with specific names with the specific intention of making them unique and referable.

Not vague, loose.

In the middle of supp-supps, when the words ‘pepper grinder’ do not come to me immediately and I say her fondness for specific things can sometimes put pressure on someone like me, Mummy seethes.

Oxymoron! she yells. ‘Specific’ next to ‘things’ is an oxymoron!

I sniff and let the yell dissolve.

Just like your father, she says. Spitting bloody image.

I proceed in telling Mummy that alas, my girlfriend has moved onto pastures new in Birmingham, and I know this is going to shock her due to the fact she is very fond of my girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, to be precise.

She slams down her fork and again I take the opportunity to sniff. She wants me to put a word on my current emotion.

I feel wounded, I say.

Like hell, she says.

I carry on eating. 

When I brought my now ex-girlfriend over to Mummy’s, they hit it off and spoke about many subjects.

This was no doubt ignited by my ex-girlfriend’s use of the word ‘mulch’, which spurred Mummy’s ‘mulch ado about nothing’ comment and the waterworks because Mummy apparently laughed so much she urinated on the carpet, although I wasn’t privy to this moment as I was scraping lumps of gristle into the non-compostable trash, inhabited by two contradictory feelings; one of being very happy that my ex-girlfriend was getting on so well with Mummy, the other of being very scared.

Anyhow, such banter is rare for Mummy because all she usually does is mutter at supp-supps, then slip straight into her silk nightie and type a comment in a spreadsheet cell next to whichever woman I’ve brought back.

Fuzzy.

A simpleton.

Erratically amiable.

She once set fire to Father’s moustache one evening when he’d said ‘fine’ for the twenty-fourth time (the twenty-fourth and last time). It did not surprise me in the slightest that she had “A man is buried here” hammered onto his headstone. 

She’s a brilliant, soulful, human, Mummy says.

Sure, I say.

She has panache.

Yup.

But gone she is.

Yup.

Care to tell me what occurred?

I do not.

I remove the plates and take them to the kitchen as Mummy steps over the carpet stain from a few weeks ago and sighs.

Remember to segregate the waste, she says, halfway up the stairs.

I soon hear the metallic clang of the coat hanger – her pulling her nightie off – then the big-horn intro of her computer startup.

Outside with the binbags, I look up at Mummy’s bedroom window. She’s in her silk nightie, her face glowing Excel-green.

I pop the bottles in with the plastics and the plastics in with the bottles, then go about scattering the stale bread, eggshells, used matches and pencil shavings over her front lawn. They say the latter two items, along with wettened autumn leaves, are excellent ways for soil to retain the necessary moisture for growth; outstanding even, first-rate, sovereign.

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