Another tear rolled down her face, gently dropping off her perfectly groomed cheek. Plop! Straight into the bowl of soup. The waiter noticed that her makeup remained impeccably set, as if nothing had happened – no running mascara or watercolor mess. It was as if it had never happened.
With her perfectly manicured french nails, she pushed her bowl away, across the rough surface of the wooden table, and broke off another chunk of bread from the fresh baked bread that was already cool on the plate beside her. Lathering it in creamy butter, she stopped the train of thoughts rushing through her mind… carrying her back to a time and place not visited in a long time.
Somehow, this simple soup in a small roadside cafe, with its rustic tables & chairs, warm fireplace and occasional traveller, had transported her from the cold wintery weather back to the tropics.
She struggled to get ahold of herself – this was no place to cry!
“That’s not who I am! Big girls don’t cry!”
Pulling herself back together, and wiping away the tears, she asked for the check. The waiter pretended not to have noticed the breakdown, and in a simple black server book handed her the bill. She paid hastily, leaving much too large a tip, but in a hurry to get out of there.
She’d wanted a coffee, but she would find somewhere else for that. Perhaps, instead of travelling down country roads, she would find her way back to the motorway and pull over into a Services. There was always Starbucks, Greggs or something equally familiar.
As her boots tapped along the cobblestones, she put her gloves back on, thankful for the fur lining on her wool coat. Even after so many years, she still felt the cold acutely. It was hard to adjust, after the tropics. She touched the button on the remote and the door opened, and she gingerly sat down at the wheel.
As she looked at the three-pointed star of her steering wheel, the tears started to fall freely. She gripped the wheel, even though she hadn’t even started the car and certainly was in no state to do so now.
That’s all it took to bring back the memories.
Everything she had worked so hard to forget and leave behind her, and a simple bowl of homemade soup had brought it all bubbling back to the surface. The years faded away and she was transported back to another time and place.
The floor beneath her feet was harden dirt, the walls a mix of straw and dirt that had been roughly patched and painted in places. It was dark, but cool inside, as she sat at the wooden table, that wobbled on the uneven floor. A single window, with a wooden frame with gaps all around it as it was rudely stuffed into the hole. The door frame was just as rustically made – no masterpiece of woodwork, crookedly hanging on its hinges, and had to be lifted to actually shut in place.
Over to her right, the wall had a hole broken through the dirt & clay, to let the water out when it rained too hard and the roof started to leak. Luckily, the house wasn’t perfectly flat and all the water run into that corner. So, the hole had been made to let the water out, and then a rudimentary screen covered it, to keep the rats and rodents out.
In front of her, a bowl of soup that her mother had made and beside her a slice of bread for dipping in the soup.
In the dark corner, over to her left, she knew there was hanging a smoked pork loin, which was rationed out each day. It hung inside a woven basket and was covered in a cloth to keep the flies off it! Just one small piece…
Yesterday she and her brother Ramón had eaten the last of the pork rind crackling while their parents were out. Her back still hurt from the beating her father had given them both when he discovered what they had done. Was it really so bad to be hungry and have eaten the crackling?
Mother lay on the bed they all slept in, recovering from the beating Father had given her when she had stepped in to defend them both.
That was the day she had decided she would not grow up to be poor. That she would eat whatever she wanted when she was hungry. She would never depend upon a man to say what she could or could not eat.
Angry tears now started to flow as she remembered.
And finally, she gave in to the tears… Mother was dead and she had been unable to convince her to move with her. She had left it all behind to build a new life and never looked back.
Mother was dead, and he had finally killed her.