An Ordinary Man?

The smell of cooking bacon makes Michael's mouth water. The thought of eggs and toast and honey makes his stomach rumble. He fastens the last button, checks himself briefly in the mirror and leaves the bedroom.

 

"Hannie, Hettie," he calls, as he passes their rooms. 

 

"Coming, Papa." 

 

"Be right down, Papa." 

 

He smiles as he tramps down the stairs. 

 

Industrious noises come from the kitchen and the lilting voice of Mary, singing some popular song. He does not recognise it, but he takes little interest in such things. Give him a good novel, any day.  

 

He enters the kitchen. Mary turns and smiles. 

 

"Morning, dear."

 

"Hello gorgeous." 

 

Their kiss is short, familiar. 

 

"Hmm, smells delicious, so does the food.” 

 

Mary laughs and strokes his freshly shaven chin. 

 

He sets the table and pours two glasses of milk and two cups of coffee.

 

Mary hums her tune. The sausages sizzle. 

 

He settles into his chair, picks up the newspaper and scans the headlines.  

 

Henrietta enters. She kisses her father on the cheek.  "Morning, Papa." 

 

He strokes her cheek. 

 

"Morning, Mama." 

 

"Morning, dear."

 

They hug and kiss. 

 

Hans stamps in, flings himself into his chair. 

 

"Morning, Papa. Morning, Mama. I'm starving." 

 

Michael smiles over the paper. 

 

"Morning, dear." 

 

Mary places their breakfasts on the table.  

 

"Anything in the paper, dear?" 

 

"Only the usual stuff." He folds it away.  

 

Hans attacks him food. 

 

"Are ready for your maths test?" 

 

Hans nods. "Papa and I went through it." 

 

"Good."

 

"Can Fredrik come to play after school?" 

 

"If you wish. I'll check with his mum." 

 

Hams returns to his breakfast. 

 

"May I go to Samuel's?" 

 

"Of course, dear. But don't be late. You have homework to do." 

 

"I'll do it at Samuel's."

 

"Won't you distract each other?" 

 

"No, Mama. We help each other." 

 

"Be home in time to do your homework," Michael declares. 

 

"Okay," Henrietta replies sullenly.  

 

"Make sure you do, my girl." 

 

"Yes, Papa." 

 

"Right, you two, off you go, don't miss your bus”

 

The children leave for their rooms. 

 

"What are you plans today, my love?" 

 

"Oh, a few household chores and I'm meeting Ingrid and Sasha for coffee in town. I may pop into Hugo Boss and get that dress we saw at the weekend, if that’s okay"? 

 

"Of course, my love." He stands and kisses her hair. "You deserve it." 

 

She looks up and smiles. 

 

He goes to the front door, yelling, "Hurry up you two." 

 

"Yes, Papa." 

 

He places his black cap on his blonde head and folds his coat over his arm. 

 

"Bye, darling. BYE KIDS." 

 

Outside, he ignores the waiting car. It’s a beautiful morning; he’ll walk to work. He strolls through the woods. The birds sing to him. He strides from the wood into the open space surrounding his work place. A train is arriving. Smoke billows from the chimneys. He arrives at the wrought iron gates. A guard swings them open, salutes him. He enters, passing under the motto Arbeit Macht Frei.

copyright Martin Marais 2019
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