Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Canning

"He always liked my cookin'," she groaned. Margaret rolled out of the fetal position and gingerly checked for breaks. Her ribs hurt, probably another bruise and her lip was cut. She couldn't see out of one eye because it was swollen shut.

"Yep..." she breathed through swollen lips, "he always liked my cookin'."

Margaret gingerly got up from the floor and moved to the bathroom to clean up. "I guess I should do more of it." She ran cold water and dabbed at her cuts. "I won't be going anywhere in public for a while." she took off her nightgown, what was left of it, and threw it in the trash. Then, on second thought, she carried it to the wood stove and put it in the fire.

Gordon had come home the night before and gone into a druken rage. He'd been out whoring and gambling for three days and he was hungry. Margaret was in bed sleeping, her first mistake. The pantry was bare because there was no money, her second. The beating had taken three hours. Now he was asleep on the couch, snoring grossly.

"A hard workin man has to eat." Margaret whispered to herself as she got dressed. She looked in the mirror and didn't recognize herself. It wasn't the bruises or the swelling. It was the manner of the being that looked back at her through the glass.

"Yep. He's gotta eat."

Margaret went to the cellar to get her supplies. In August she had canned tomatoes to store for the winter. In August, he had been gone for four days. In August, he had put her in the hospital for three. He had promised never to do it again. He'd sworn on the blood of his mother.

When Margaret got out of the hospital, she took a few days to heal at home. Her garden was ready to harvest and Margaret could not stand to waste anything. With broken ribs and her arm in a cast, she picked tomatoes and canned them. During the canning process she added a few drops of "just a little insurance" with the salt to two discreetly marked jars.

Climbing the stairs from the cellar to the house, Margaret could hear him rustling.

"Yes, a man has got to eat."

She went into the kitchen to make his favorite stewed tomatoes.


anna said...

shall we try again?? (g)
this is one of my favourite stories
and the photo is super. Is this your canning cellar Roberta?

Roberta said...

Naw. After reading this, Dan won't let me can anymore. ;)

Shadowrite said...

Yowsa! Didn't expect that twist at the end. Loved it.

Roberta said...

I'm howling. This the most favorite of my writes. I must have been really hacked off to do it.

Thank you so much for reading!