I wrote this short story a few weeks ago, following another writing ‘challenge’ at the writing course I am going to where we were invited to write something in response to images of people with tattoos. I dedicate this story to my friend, Gwyn, who has been feeling very poorly; I’m thinking of you, Gwyn and hope you enjoy the story.
“Doris, what is THAT?” Bert exploded, his face moving from white to puce quicker than you could say colour chart.
I was in the bath and he had seen fit to interrupt, again.
“That, Bert, is a tattoo,” I replied, stating what I thought was the obvious.
“I can see that, woman but what the hell is it doing on you?” Puce now scaling down to purple-violet; curious, I’d never imagined that colour on a face before. “YOU CAN’T HAVE A TATTOO,” he bellowed.
“I can, Bertie dear, and I do,” I said. “Judi had one at 81.”
“Judi, Judi, who in all of the devil’s horns is Judi?” Sputtered Bert. I was reminded of our old Morris Minor back in 1972.
“Dench. Judi Dench. Dame bloody Judi Dench.” I answered, trying without 100% success to remain calm.
“Oh, her,” Bert muttered. “Well, she’s a flaming actress.”
“I am well aware of that, Bertie,” I said, not without a touch of the pedant. “What does that have to do with the price of making your own pickled onions?”
“Where did onions come into it?” Bert now sounded puzzled, though this was not an unusual phenomena.
“What about the Grand Children?” he said, resuming his position of (imagined) authority.
“What about them,” I responded, now giggling. “They’re hardly going to see it – there – are they?”
“Humph, no, well, mmm; hardly the point is it Doris?” Bert was now struggling to maintain any cogency to his argument.
“I mean what were you thinking of, love?” he went on, presumably thinking the gentle approach might endear me to him.
“I was thinking, Bert, of me; that’s what.” I said firmly but without any unkindness.
“62 and a half years we’ve been married and 62 and a half years I’ve gone along with things. I’ve gone along with your going out every Saturday night and getting back late and drunk. I’ve gone along with your precise meal requests; roasts on a Sunday, chops on a Monday, Shepherd’s Pie on Wednesdays, sausages – always Lincolnshire sausages – on a Thursday, and fish on Fridays. I’ve watched football and Top Gear and a seemingly never ending stream of The News. I’ve gone to sodding Skeggie every sodding year since we were engaged and stayed in the same sodding guest house with the same sodding landlady who treats me like something stuck on her shoe, whilst cooing and purring over you. I’ve looked after your kids. I’ve taken every dog we ever had over the past 62 and a half years for 3 walks a day. And that’s only the half of it, Bert. So, yes, I was thinking of me.” I finished abruptly.
“But what about if you get wrinkles?” His attempts were getting lamer now.
“Wrinkles? I’ve already got a map of the world written over my body, doused liberally with stretch marks, liver spots and every other bump, line and blemish that comes with age.” I retorted.
“Oh well,” Bert sighed; he knew he’d got nothing else. He was an old car, out of petrol, with no water in his washers, or oil in his engine. “Do you think I should get one?” he questioned, his eyes showing a mischievous glint I had almost, but not quite, forgotten.
“How about a Posh to go with my Becks?” I replied, kissing him on the cheek. “Cuppa tea?”
© Liz MacKenzie