Joe, Ham and Eggs

The kettle starts its grumbling and spluttering almost as soon as Tatum switches the life into it.  Her brows draw
together in anxious union as she moves to the kitchen door to ease it soundlessly shut.  It's the time of the
morning when life seems deafeningly loud, perhaps because the solitude seems almost sacred.  It's the time of
the day that Tatum likes to herself; she likes to gather herself... she likes to be the only one conscious to hear
the sounds of everyday lurch into action.

On this particular morning, at this particular time, the sounds of her life gearing up are in danger of being
snatched by a youngish man languishing in her uncomfortable futon bed.  A youngish man of 30-odd years (the
specifics having not been accurately exchanged) and the name Joe, a rather distressed pair of once indigo jeans,
a faded T-shirt (black and white striped), a very strong probability of a hangover and a love of Brazilian films.  As
far as Tatum knew, this is what Joe already possessed — whether he was in the habit of enjoying private, early
mornings, she did not know.

She felt imprisoned in her kitchen, moving about in careful, pantomime motions so as to preserve the quiet, re-
file her thoughts and maintain the equilibrium of her sanity.  She could not at this moment — this ritualistic,
intimate moment — decide whether or not she actually wanted a 30 (-odd) year old boyman with questionable
clothing decisions and a love of foreign films snoring through the duvet her aunt had bought her for Christmas.  
She didn't know if she was numbed enough to be reckless or relaxed enough to be open to someone, or whether
she just wanted to sit with her own stark loneliness for the foreseeable future.  She seemed to find something
bracing in the acute awareness of herself that resulted from staunch independence and the confiding company of
her own mind.

She felt a lurch in her stomach and an involuntary shudder domino down her spine.  Now she was feeling
repulsion for the invited intruder.  Now she was feeling annoyance at herself and the way she was feeling; the
inevitable inconsistency of her behaviour as she'd guiltily usher him from the house avoiding all self-examination
of her unintelligible emotions.  Hating herself for not understanding her self — hating herself for being so earth
shatteringly terrified of the one thing she craved.  Oh dear.  The kettle climaxed and the flurry of steam and
gurgles began to subside.  The decision Tatum had reached required instant action.  She had decided the best
thing to do was make breakfast.

The reliable fall-back of activity often managed to bury any internal rebellion.  She thrust herself into motion
flinging back cupboards and clattering through the cutlery drawer.  The new plan was to be innocently loud so as
to penetrate Joe's slumber.  To be mid-activity when he squinted into the kitchen half dressed, ruffling his hair,
drawn to the bustle of his missing bed-mate.  She had a strong position in this role of offering breakfast; if only
she'd thought to dress first, she could avert any misconception that they'd be taking a post-breakfast tumble in
the sheets.

Tatum tried to rein her thoughts back from despair as she smacked eggs against the lip of a Pyrex jug.  She felt
disgusted at her inward lack of cool as she unsheathed the eggs from their shells and snatched up a fork with
which to beat them around in time to her mind:

"There's something wrong with you Tatum, there is something really wrong..."

She just wanted space back.  Just the lonely click of the kettle as it reheated the water for a second cup of
coffee... just her thoughts clanging around an empty kitchen... nobody to challenge her fragile grip on herself or
the handy distance of her dreams.

But not this tarnished morning.  No.  This was the beginning of yet another mistake to be quickly aborted,
erased and rewound.  This was to be another afternoon sat alone berating herself for her rash impulse and
immense lack of judgement.  This was going to be a day spent cleansing herself once Joe had been extradited
from her house, the egg pan had been washed and the ham had been consumed.

Maybe she'd call her friends and wash the experience away in a bar.  Yes, that's what she needed; a night out
with her friends, a night out in her comfort zone, a night soaked with whiskey and possibility where her spirit felt
free.  Maybe she'd meet somebody to take her mind off herself, to engage her from her loneliness... maybe.....
She just had to get through this morning and eat her breakfast: Joe, ham and eggs.
Lucie Barât
Lucie was raised by hippies and artists; growing up between Somerset, Hampshire and London. She then won
a scholarship to drama school and started a theatre company with friends upon graduation. They managed
to recruit Dame Judi Dench as a patron and the company is still successfully running... She has enjoyed a
stage and film career, also writing, recording and touring as front woman for ‘The Fay Wrays’, before putting
performance aside to concentrate on writing.  She is currently working on a collection of poems, essays and
prose for the charity MIND and also writing her second novel.  More of her prose, poetry and music can be
found online at and
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