Cheese on Toast


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1. Cheese on Toast

Some people say that you can have too much of a good thing but at that moment Jess did not agree. Walking home from school every day, doing exercise was making her hunger intensify to such an extent that she had to stop and rest every twenty paces. The blisters on her made the feeling worse and when she finally got back to her tiny flat the tiny part of her that wasn’t concentrating on the pain, sighed with relief. As she hobbled to her front door, keys in hand she noticed the smell of burnt toast wafting from the kitchen. She wasn’t surprised; all she and her dad ate recently was toast (burnt or otherwise). Since neither of them could cook, that was the extent of their meals. She probably hadn’t had a decent meal since Mum left, but she wasn’t around anymore so all they ate were ready meals, take-out pizza and an of course the family favourite cheese on toast.
Her Mum used to make all the food; Lemon meringue pie with melt in the mouth pastry and zesty lemon which sharpened your taste buds. The mixture was always right and she had helped a couple of times to produce disastrous results, but Mum always fixed it. She was always the one making trouble or fixing it...
As she actually entered the flat and called out her greeting to Benji the cat and her father, the whiff of cheese greeted her welcoming nostrils. The smell was almost overpowering as she walked into the kitchen where she dumped her heavy school bag on an empty seat and kicked off her painful shoes. She grabbed the piece of golden brown toast with the melting cheese on top and she just sat there remembering the last time she had gone to her Mum’s office.
She had walked out in May. A hot, sunny day with hardly any wind. Jess had gone along to the office after school to meet her Mum like any other Thursday afternoon ever since she was little. But when she walked in into the office she saw her; just sitting there with her pink suitcase laying at her feet, pulling her desk equipment into it looking frantic. When, her Mum finally noticed the figure of her daughter standing in the open doorway, excuses didn’t come, neither the explanations. Tears just floated down her cheeks and as she started to speak, Jess just turned on heel and walked out of the abandoned office. The last words she heard her mother speak were, “I have to Jess... I have to...” Coming home to Dad was the worst moment. He didn’t speak to her at all, just sat there like a shop window dummy, not moving. The counselling at school didn’t help. All they said was how hard it must be, but Jess knew how other people felt. She didn’t exactly feel anything. It was worse for Dad.
As she stared at the previous attempts that lay on the side board she wondered where her dad must be. She wandered into the living room where she found her Dad curled up in a ball on the sofa, watching another re-run of last of the summer wine. She greeted him and waited for the usual questions to come flying out at her like how her day was. But he didn’t get as far as saying the first word because of the rattle of keys in the door. No one had keys except themselves and mum...
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