A Circle Of Stew
You hear the ticking of the clock in the living room. And the slightly quieter one in the hallway. You know it’s time for lunch. Wintertime, but also time for lunch. It should not be as dark outside, as it is today but there are these days and then there are brighter days. So it’s time for stew. The child is asleep. You know that, because you just peeked inside her room. She looked so peaceful. As if she didn’t hear the ticking of the clocks.
You walk over to the kitchen and reach for the leek. It should be there on the table, ready to be cleaned from all the dirt. Leek seems to soak up brown, heavy dirt and small, sandy dirt. And sometimes it is inhabited by tiny insects eating away all the life. But when you get to the table, it is gone. And there is food on the stove. Someone is in the apartment. You hear them now, over at the bathroom. „Martha?“ You sound slightly more worried than expected. Than what you aimed for. But there’s already food on the stove and someone must have prepared it. Walking over to the white stove and turning down the heat just a bit to save gas, you peek into the pot. Beans. Red beans with some thick sauce and is that meat?
Who got meat for a Tuesday?
„Martha?“ She comes hurrying towards you. „Mom, what is it?“ „Oh don’t you call me Mom, it makes me feel old.“ She’s wearing a colorful working shirt and old pants. Like she was painting some walls for the neighbors. But you don’t dare asking, this is none of your business. „Martha, who prepared that bean stew?“ „That’s chili, Mom. I did. For dinner.“ „How long does it have to simmer? You know, we can’t keep the stove running all day. And why didn’t you soak the beans?“
She doesn’t seem to listen. She never listens. Sometimes you wonder, if you and Anne were not better off without her.
She wastes your time and money.
All the time. But you like her and her family is poor. So you kept her around.
„Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t find time for a fresh dish, I got a can of soup for today. Is that alright with you?“ It certainly isn’t. „And where is the leek?“ „We didn’t get any leek yesterday, Mom.“ „But I just put it there? And by God, stop this Mom nonsense if you don’t want to anger me.“ She stares you right in the eye. As if she was looking for something. Then turns off the stove. „It’s done, I believe“ she says and pours the contents of the pot into a soup bowl. „I better get going.“ She turns around and leaves. You look at the bowl. It doesn’t look tasty. It’s a waste of money.
The ticking of the clock reminds you, it’s time for lunch so you reach for the net of potatoes. You should prepare some stew and wait for Anne to wake up. Later you may as well go outside and see if there’s any good meat for the weekend on sale. If there’s any meat at all.
„Mom! Don’t prepare anything! Dinner is right in front of you!“ The woman came out of nowhere. She takes the potato you were just about to peel from your fingers. She does it in a rough way. „Who are you?“ You are scared. „Who are you and how did you get into my home? We don’t have anything stored. Are you Russian? You don’t seem Russian.“ She doesn’t seem Russian, but just a bit familiar. „Anne. Mom. I am Anne. Your daughter. Your dinner is right in front of you. It’s chili. From a can. I didn’t find time to …“ Her eyes wander towards the clock. „Goddammit, I am late. Later, Mom! Please eat the chili!“ She touches your shoulder. Then leaves in a hurry.
You hear the ticking of the clock.
It’s time for lunch.