"What about me Ma?" by Mary Lys Carbery
Ma calls for Mr Burke from next door when I cut myself in the yard. He works with old people up in the county home, you’d swear he was a doctor the way she goes on about him. She falls over herself when he comes through the front door, fussing and gabbing on as she brings him into the kitchen.
He starts cleaning at the cut on my knee, and pulls at the loose bits of skin to get at the grit underneath. She stands at the sink with a tissue her mouth saying over and over, I can’t even look at it Mr Burke, I feel faint, I feel faint. She gets so upset he has to put her sitting on a kitchen chair at the open back door. She takes in deep lungfuls of air, flapping her tissue like a southern belle, saying tell me when its all over.
Iodine is the thing Mr Burke swears by for cuts, he calls it his magic potion. But it stings. My leg jumps a bit and when I let out a yelp, Ma tells me not to make a fuss that its only a little sting. He tells me that I am as good as new when the plaster goes on.
Ma puts on the kettle, and Mr Burke settles into the chair I always call Daddy’s chair. Sometimes she will take either an apple tart out of the oven or teabrack from an old biscuit tin. Mr Burke is a great man for the compliments on her cooking. She never corrects him, but tells him he is a terrible man and that its no trouble and that its lovely to cook for someone who appreciates it.
Its Mr Dennehy that cooks the cakes and tarts. He brings them on Mondays, just before I come home from school. When I am coming in the door, he gets out of the chair and tells Ma with a wink, that he will be back for the tin next week. I always have to tell him thank you, and that it looks lovely. He does make good cakes and tarts though, even if he looks at me funny these days.
Mr Burke makes a big show of refusing a second slice, but gives in. She tells him that he needs a second cup to go with that. He settles back into the chair and starts telling her stories of the latest goings on up in the home.
The news is finished on the radio, its 1.45, Ma is patting Mr Burke’s knee and laughing loudly at his stories, and there is not a sign of any lunch coming.