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Ms Eunice Regrets

Why she even agreed to come in the first place, Eunice has no idea. She’d told herself, the cat, the bloody dustpan and brush that she’d not agree, would not cave, and now here she is wearing a giant cardboard hat with a tassel on it and her second-best shoes (her first best shoes being too tight on the bunions).





Ethel refuses to meet her eye. “Wouldn’t catch me there for all the tea in China,” she’d told Eunice by the bins just yesterday morning. Obviously, Norma got to her. “I can see you, Ethel,” Eunice wants to say. “Hard to blend in wearing a hat shaped like a like a wastebin.”


Eunice is pretty sure that Ethel is wearing her newest dress. The one she got for her grandson’s christening and didn’t they all have to hear about it? Her and Norma took the bus up to town, as if that is hard to do. Made a day of it, apparently. Lunch in Flickwicks. Well, if people want to pay silly money for a small triangle sandwich, that’s up to them. Eunice likes to see the hands that make her lunch, thanks all the same and she said as much.“You’ve no idea what they do in those kitchens, Ethel,” she’d said. ‘”No idea at all. You could be eating anything.”“Pretty sure it was cucumber and cheese,” Norma had said. Always has to have the last word does Norma.


Ethel’s dress is nice enough, if you like the sort of thing. Sags a bit on the bust and the black handbag doesn’t match. Why Ethel is always clutching it, Eunice has no idea. She only carries her bus pass, spare nylon pop socks and fluffy old peppermints that she’s always trying to offer Frank, as though he’s some sort of pony. Well Eunice won’t be taking her coat off. No need to show what God gave you to all and sundry.

 

Norma has her fanciest heels on. Eunice feels sorry for her shoehorn. It must be exhausted wedging those wide feet into satin. And of course, Norma’s not wearing a hat.

“With my hair?” she’d asked in that stupid breathless voice she puts on for the men, as though she’s some starlet from the Fifties.


Stan had blushed and twiddled his filthy earwax-moulded moustache, the dirty deviant.

Anyone could piddle their pension on weekly trips to the salon, come home looking like you were wearing a shiny bike helmet. It’s not hard. Not that Norma is living off her pension. She’s living off the money that poor husband she drove to the grave left her, literally. They were off to place flowers on his widow’s headstone and Norma crashed into the cemetery gate. A freak accident they said, but Eunice isn’t so sure.


She wishes Malcolm would take his hand off her shoulder. It smells of pickled onions. He’d been told four times that the buffet was for afterwards, but would he listen? Eunice can feel his fingers, inching their way downwards. If he moves one fingernail further, she’ll stamp on his foot, bunions be damned.She’s only holding onto Betty’s shoulder to stop her toppling over or running away. Betty thinks she’s at her fifth birthday party and is excited about the rabbit shaped jelly and ice cream she thinks is coming, if Frank ever stops bloody caterwauling that is. Eunice is about ready to batter him with his bloody fancy guitar.

“You went to America once,” she wants to tell him, “for three days, fifty years ago. You are not Elvis!” Eunice is not going to sing about being all shock up, even if they are trying to raise money for a new community centre.


Eunice doesn’t even like the community centre. Can’t people just stay in their own homes? She doesn’t want to play darts or dominoes or try Norma’s Caribbean curry. Pineapple with chicken? Eunice doesn’t think so. The closest Norma has got to the Caribbean is when she got drunk on Jamaican rum at Christmas and look how that turned out. Poor Cyril still can’t look her in the eye.


Yes, Eunice would rather be a home with her cat and her Horlicks. Last week they hosted a quiz night and the week before that it was a murder mystery. Poor Betty thought it was real of course and was found hiding in the store cupboard wearing armour she’d made from cardboard boxes. And who had to go and calm her down? Good old Eunice that’s who.

 

Malcom’s tapping his fingers now, sliding them down the lapel of her coat. I know what you are up to Malcom, you hound dog.

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