"Had a good day love?”
Laura rose from the settee where she had been listening to woman’s hour.
"I hope stew's ok. Just need to reheat it!”
Joe was then opening another bottle of Whitney’s, head down, fingers on the lip of the bottle.
"Oh, mum, what have you done with this stew?”
Esther flung her spoon back into the deep white bowl and the very pink stew splattered onto the plastic table-cloth.
"You can't guess what you have done mum?”
Esther pushed the strong and strange, yet familiar smelling, product beneath her mum's nose.
“Its kit-e-kit...I have made kit-e-Kat stew, and the cat is very happy, I'm thinking.”
Esther had befriended a stray cat, which they had fed secretly in their kitchen. They had all laughed, whilst Joe pointed out how stupid they all were, and there seemed no way out at all then. An opportunity to release hidden anguish and the fantasy of any escape, ever, vanished the following morning with a heavy knock on their front door.
“Yes, can I help you…..my husband is…” she stammered, trying to find a plausible excuse, “he has a headache and is sick in bed!”
That excuse seemed far more tolerable than her trying to explain he was in a stupor and not fit to rise from his bed at least till that afternoon. Then she heard the stranger with a rough Northern voice drop what sounded like a heavy metal box on her front door-step. He then commenced to talk as if she knew he was coming.
“The gas turned off!” she almost screamed. “I had no idea that you were going to do that, and anyway, what right do you have? Only a couple of weeks ago my husband came into your offices in town to pay the over-due bill, everyone falls behind sometimes surely?”
His voice grew gentler, and quieter, and she sensed his distress.
“I am so sorry to have to do this, and if there was another way of dealing with this then I would apply it. I have though, no choice and this is my job I’m afraid, and of course there will be a big reconnection fee before it can go on again. Where is your meter…ah, in the scullery I see?”