Dancing in the kitchen
She is sewing pips of reminiscence in his fertile mind, selecting scenes for the reel of his memories. She is the Director, Writer and Makeup Artist. She would like to be the Film Editor too and supervise the relegation of her inadequacies to the cutting room floor. She would like to censor any shameful language: ‘You stupid boy,’ ‘I can’t take you anywhere,’ ‘I should have thought twice about having children.’ She does this in her Director’s Cut. In this version she is always smiling. She makes delicious, nutritious meals, irons his favourite clothes in time for him to wear them, patiently explains homework and never shushes him in the car because she is listening to the radio.
But she does not have final cut privilege. He is The Editor of this portion of her life. He selects rare, single-take footage of her shouting and crying. He creates miserable montages of her mothering misdemeanours. ‘Remember when I really wanted to go on a donkey and you wouldn’t let me?’ he asks. ‘Remember when you said I would have to sleep in the loft with the wasp’s nest if I kept getting out of bed?’ he enquires.
She is determined to expunge her failings. She selects a location, prepares the storyboard and applies makeup.
Take One: Dancing in the Kitchen
The radio is loud. The dance is a comedy combination of moves she used to perform in earnest several years ago. The noise will draw him to her and her exuberance will proclaim: I’m so happy to be your mother that I’m dancing in the kitchen. I love you so much; let’s dance in the kitchen, together.
Take Two: Dancing in the Kitchen
The radio is louder. This time he will forsake the television in order to investigate. He will burst into the kitchen and join in the dance. They will laugh together in a way that allows her to begin sentences with, ‘Remember when we danced in the kitchen?’
Take Three: Dancing in the Kitchen
The radio is moderately loud so as not to irritate him. He will come into the kitchen eventually, when he wants a drink or to ask what’s for tea. He will chuckle at her dance.
Director’s Cut: In the Kitchen
The radio is on. Eventually he comes in. She sends him such a smile. Perhaps he will remember it.
Carys Bray's prize-winning short stories have been published in a variety of magazines and literary journals including Mslexia, Dialogue, PoemMemoirStory, Black Market Review, The Front View and New Fairy Tales . Her collection, Sweet Home won the 2012 Scott Prize and will be published by Salt in November. Carys teaches at Edge Hill University. She is working on a PhD and she is a co-editor at Paraxis.