The insistent 'beep-beep' stopped, Norman Wilkinson pecked his wife on the cheek and he stepped out of bed. It was 7:25am and he started the same routine he'd gone through for nearly twelve years now. It always began at 7:25am precisely; he was never late. His wife, Madge, watched him pad off to the bathroom as she yawned. She swung her legs out of bed and sleepily found her slippers, as she had done for nearly twelve years now.
Whilst Norman was in the bathroom, Madge shuffled out of the bedroom and went downstairs. As usual the post had already arrived, so she bent down and collected the letters off the mat. 'Mr N Wilkinson'.....'N Wilkinson Esq'....'The Occupier'..... 'N Wilkinson'. Four letters and not one for her. Mind you, since Madge spent most of her time around the house these days, she felt she had far more right to the title 'The Occupier' than her husband did. She was forty-two and somehow felt that something was missing from her life. Where did the adventurous young girl of her youth disappear to? She sat down on the sofa, rubbed her tired eyes and yawned again.....
Twelve minutes later she awoke suddenly. Her eyes darted to the clock on the kitchen wall. Christ! She had been asleep.
She leapt to her feet, ran into the kitchen and began to panic. Her husband had never been late for work, partly because his breakfast was always ready for him when he came downstairs. This was not a good start to Madge's day. Something in her brain said "toast", so she hurriedly threw two slices of bread into the electric toaster and pushed the lever down. What next? The voice said "eggs", so she opened the fridge door, took two eggs out, and put them in the same saucepan she'd been using for 12 years.
She walked over to the sink and was just about to turn on the tap when she realised she was too late: Norman was now in the shower. She looked across at the kettle: just enough for one cup of coffee, but nowhere near enough to boil two eggs. "Damn!" They had a house-rule: no-one uses the taps if someone's in the shower. She still remembered the time when Norman was nearly scalded when she filled the kettle while he was showering.
She bit her lip: her bad start was getting worse. And she was now shuffling her feet anxiously and pressing her thighs together. To cap it all, she was absolutely bursting for a pee. She looked down into the pan at the eggs. What the hell could she do? He ALWAYS had two boiled eggs, every single morning. Involuntarily she pressed her left hand against her pubic bone. That's it!
Without quite realising what she was doing, she lifted her nightie, pressed the cold pan between her legs, and released the aching pressure. A spurt of pee erupted from between her legs and into the pan; it quickly turned into a torrent and made a loud hissing sound as it pushed the eggs around like a school bully. She closed her eyes: the sense of relief was overwhelming! Before long the torrent turned to a trickle, then it stopped altogether. The eggs were completely submerged in a bright orangey-yellow liquid and steam was rising from the pan. Automatically she put the pan on the cooker hob, turned the gas on and lit it. His eggs would be ready in under five minutes! Mentally she patted herself on the back for her ingenuity.
Ten minutes later, Norman was downstairs in the kitchen, behind the breakfast table. Suddenly, he snorted derisively. Madge looked up in his direction. As usual he was staring down at his morning 'paper while scooping out the bottom of his second boiled egg. All she could see was the shiny dome of his largely hairless head. "I see that idiot in the Foreign Office is up to his old tricks with the Bundesbank", said the dome. Madge knew that a response was never required while he was reading and she continued to eat her cereal, adding as nonchalantly as she could manage, "Eggs alright dear?"
Without looking up, the dome said, "Fine thanks, you can always tell a free-range egg can't you? I don't know why you don't get them all the time. They're much tastier than the battery-laid ones you usually get...". And then the dome said something which Madge couldn't quite make out about European Monetary Union.
Within ten minutes, Norman was standing on the doorstep going through his usual "Bye-bye, darling" routine. Except this time he added, "Oh, I nearly forgot. As it's Good Friday tomorrow, I may be able to get away from the office a little earlier tonight. Bye, darling". And with that he disappeared into the car and drove off.
Madge closed the door and went back in. As usual she started to clear the table away, tipping the eggshell into the kitchen bin. She stared down at the pieces and opened the fridge door. There was no doubt about it, the eggshell was darker than the ones in the fridge door. "Free range, ha!"
And so the routine of twelve years was about to change. Madge continued
to buy battery-laid eggs, but her husband continued to eat "free- range"
eggs with that distinctive 'bite' to them. And she never needed to go to
the loo till much later in the morning. If he was happy, why
should he ever know the truth about how his breakfast was cooked?......
- The End -
John Martin Stories