“These are hard,” my mother said. “You should make some new ones.”
“Sorry, I’ll get them done now,” I said.
“I don’t know why you can’t them right first time,” Mother complained. “It’s not like you never cook eggs.”
“Sorry,” I said as I put the pan back on the heat. “Maybe I should get the pan hotter first.”
“You never think!” Mother said. “You’re going to have to have them. I can’t have them going to waste. And what about dinner? I suppose you haven’t thought about that?”
“I’ve got some chicken out of the freezer,” I lied, knowing what would come next.
“I don’t fancy chicken,” Mother said. “I think that we eat too much chicken. Is that toast fresh?”
“Yes, it’s just come out,” I said as I buttered it quickly and slid it on to the plate. I pushed it over to her and cracked two more eggs into the pan.
“You could have at least cut the toast for me,” Mother said. “I have to do everything. You have no consideration for me. I’ve had such a bad night.”
“Sorry,” I repeated, as I quickly poured tea into her mug. “Here, this will help.”
Mother took a sip. “Is this milk okay?”
“It’s fine,” said, turning the eggs. “I had some in my tea when I got up earlier.”
“It tastes off,” Mother said. “Could you open a fresh carton?”
“It’s the last carton,” I said. “I usually pick it up after work, but there was that after work meeting, remember, and I didn’t have time before getting home to cook dinner.” I slid the new eggs onto her warmed plate and pushed the toast nearer.
“You’ll have to pick up some tonight, and some eggs. We seem to go through so many eggs with you wasting them.” Mother shook her head sadly. “So what are we going to have for dinner if we can’t have chicken?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“You should know!” Mother exclaimed. “You are the one in charge of the kitchen, you should know what we have. We’ll just have to order pizza. I know you say you don’t like it, but you should have thought of that before getting the chicken out. And today of all days! You know I’m out for the day with Mrs Timmins and you didn’t even press the blue dress.”
“What blue dress?” I asked, bewildered.
“The one in the wardrobe. It’s been there so long that it was looking sad. I’ve had to put on this pink one. Of course, if you took me out more, it wouldn’t matter so much.”
“But you know I work,” I said wearily and took a bite of the eggs she’d rejected. They tasted fine.
“I keep telling you that you should give up work and get carer’s allowance. You and me could be quite cosy, just the two of us here,” Mother said. “I don’t know what you need your job for. They only pay a pittance.” She looked out of the window. “There’s Mrs Timmins – I have to go! Where have you put my bag?”
I watched her leave, sipping my tea as she glared one last time at me through the window as she climbed into Mrs Timmins’ car, then breathed out. Finally she was gone. I dumped my unwashed plate and mug into the sink and raced upstairs to grab my one remaining bag. My job paid extremely well, thank goodness, though she never knew, more than enough for the very reasonable rent on a tiny flat near work. The down payment had cleared, I’d picked up the keys and today was the day I moved away from Mother and into my own home. And what was more, I thought, as I shut the door and pushed the keys back through the letterbox, I would never, ever have to eat eggs for breakfast again.