Sue Cross

Sue Cross

CAREFREE

It was with relief that Janet put the ironing board back into the hall cupboard. How she hated the task, especially in hot weather. And this particular Wednesday afternoon it was not just warm but humid, so that the air felt sodden and heavy.

            Glancing at the hall clock, she decided that it was not too early for a gin and tonic. She felt that she deserved it after sweating over the ironing board for the last couple of hours. After a struggle with the ice container, she piled the glass high, enjoying the clink of the ice cubes against the tall glass. Reaching for a lemon, she cut it and slipped a slice onto the ice before pouring a hefty gin. The tonic water fizzed as she poured it to the top of the glass.

            “Cheers.” Janet toasted herself before taking a sip. “Ambrosia.”

            Just as she settled down with her drink and a bowl of peanuts, the phone rang.

            “Blast, who can that be?” She muttered as she returned to the hall.

            “Hello, Janet North speaking.” She spoke like a lawyer’s receptionist.

            “Mum, I need my blue shirt for tonight. Party at Tom’s.”

            “It’s done. Just finished the ironing.”

            “What? Can’t hear you – did you say gone? You sound muffled.”

            “Sorry, dear. I’m eating peanuts.”

            “Ah, hitting the gin again, old girl.” Her younger son was alive with laughter.

            “Cheek – I’m just having the one. I needed it after all that ironing. You had eight shirts. Andrew had six and your father, seven. It’s like a Chinese laundry in here.”

            “Mum, you’re an angel. What’s for supper?”

            “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

            “I’ll be starving. No time for lunch.”

            “Don’t worry. When have you ever gone hungry?”

            “Can’t think of a single time. See you later. Bye.”

            Janet returned to her gin and tonic. She sipped and pondered. Why won’t they just leave home? Crunching a handful of peanuts, she wondered if she was making it too comfortable for her two grown up sons. Much as she loved her family, she felt that she should be free of all this extra work at her time in life. When was the last time that she and Ronnie had been away for a holiday? Probably when the boys were at university. But what with their student loans and the price of property, she could not see a way out. Feeling the holy martyr, she blew her nose and made a decision.

            The yellow pages held the key. It didn’t take her long to find the advert.

            Hurrying to the phone, she dialled.

            “Hello, is that the Carefree Ironing Service?”

            It wasn’t the gin that had lifted her mood when her husband got home from his job at the bank.

            “What’s for dinner?” He asked, kissing her on the cheek.

            “I thought we’d go out for a meal tonight. I want to talk to you about taking a cruise.”

           

This story is available in Sue’s latest book, Stories to Go – Ninety-three Very Short Stories, which is for sale as a paperback and e-book on Amazon.

           

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