Spatula Gate

Okay, so I threw a spatula at him.

In fairness, he deserved it. A wooden spoon probably would have done less damage, but that was at the bottom of the washing up bowl; a knife probably more (too far away) - although maybe not with the accuracy level of my javelin style rage. The spatula happened to be the thing I was washing up at the time, the metal handle light in my hand and silver body covered in fairy washing up liquid and the odd bit of stray carrot. I flung it on the spur of the moment, more in exasperation really than anger. I didn't break the spatula so I can't have thrown it that hard. It did make a satisfying clatter as it hit the floor. And, just so we’re clear, he did deserve it.

I'm not sure I really expected it to hit him, I'm certain he didn't either. I felt a degree of pride when he yelled in surprise as the spatula caught him hard on the right ear. It would bruise, hopefully a big yellow and purple splash, the bruise would marr his perfect face for a little while. Shame.

"Stupid cow," he snarled, clutching at his ear.

"Language Frederick," my mother had chided, while fixing me with an ominous glare.

"I'm not sure why we seemed to be reduced to throwing cutlery around the kitchen," she continued querulously. her eyes flitting severely between the two of us. Matthew, my youngest brother, attempted to stifle a laugh and it came out somewhere between a snuffle and a snort as he hurriedly abandoned his tea-towel, scarpering and muttering something about finding out what the football scores were.

"He started it!" I retorted, the words were out my mouth before I could claw them back. I could have bitten my tongue off, only I suspected my tongue already had multiple holes in from restraining myself from sarcastic quips and ‘digging’ comments over the last couple of days.

"Is there any need for you to be such a nag," his eyes flashed as he continued to clutch at his ear. "I need some ice."

"For goodness sake, it didn't hit you that hard,"

"Feel better for that now do we?" he taunted

"Yes, as it happens,"

"Hadn't you better finish the washing up, oh no wait, you're too busy chucking the contents of the bowl at me, not sure why really but ..."

"Just shut up." I brandished a wooden spoon from my place (obviously) at the sink.

"Ooh I'm scared,"

"Children, children," my dad sighed wearily, half joking, can't we just have a relaxed Christmas, you know, one day of World Peace?"

And I was fifteen again. Only I wasn't, I was thirty-five and he was thirty-three. Wife. Mother. Maths Teacher. Generally sane and measured person. My husband had escaped to the shop to by wine, a necessary commodity in this mad house, and Fredrick's partner had been making coffee. I assumed he'd also beat a hasty retreat. My baby girl was asleep in the cot upstairs and Fredrick's gorgeous border collie was snoozing in front of the fire. All grown up. Ha ha. I could manage stroppy sixth formers, complaining parents and crazy governors, but give me my family and I am back to my teenager brat self again.

Be the bigger person. Tale of my childhood. Massive effort. Fake smile.

"Truce." I put down my weaponry and held up my marigolds as if in surrender. He just shrugged.

"Maybe you could make the coffee when you've done that?"

I forced my face into a gritted smile.

"Or maybe the people that have done precisely no washing up over Christmas would like to appoint themselves chief coffee makers?" I asked pointedly.

"I think you'll find I'm injured," he replied, dabbing theatrically at the swelling on his face with a pack of peas.

"Well I'm sure.."

"I'll make the coffee," Sam cut me off, he had obviously followed the noise. He strode into the kitchen, back from the shop with what looked like half a brewery. He raised his eyebrows quizzically at me as he took in the bubble spots on the floor and the angry red mark on Fredrick’s face. I shook my head every so slightly and smiled ruefully at him, glad that there was at least one person on my side.

"Thanks Sam," smiled Fredrick prettily. A winsome smile, that together with his handsome face (dark brown eyes, hints of stubble, short brown hair styled regularly and a six pack from the gym) broke more hearts and caused more carnage that several out of control ambulances on a motorway.

My mum smiled lovingly at Sam while I sulked by the sink. "I'll set the Trivia up for when we've finished", she cooed, placated. I rolled my eyes. Shoot me now.

"Why do you let him get to you?" Sam put his arms around me, encircling me. I turned around to face him smiling wryly.

"One, he's an arse, two, he's an arse and three, oh yes, he's an arse." Sam laughed. I finished the washing up, squeezed the cloth and wiped down the surfaces, a process I'd become familiar with over the last couple of days.

"Baby's crying," Fredrick's voice floated through from the other room. Count to ten, if that doesn't work count to a million.

"He doesn't mean anything by it," Rox (Fredrick's partner) tried to reassure me later in the evening. We were sipping red wine by the fire and eating deliciously expensive chocolate. Sam was settling Jemima and Fredrick had gone outside for a vape - he'd apparently quit smoking and that had contributed to his grouchiness. (Obviously he was a slave to nicotine withdrawal so we could not blame him for his bad behaviour – obviously) Whatever. Trivial Pursuit had (of course) been an unmitigated disaster, which, predictably, Fredrick had won. Top quotes of the game included:

"It's not fair," (it wasn't - I'd seen him deliberately change one of our questions for a harder one.

"He cheated," (he did).

"It's just a game!" (it’s the soothing way people say it that makes me want to scream, 'but it isn't just a game is it? It's a form of torture that reminds me he is cleverer than me!')

And others, not quite as audible, or repeatable. Suffice to say a less polite version of ‘go away’ had been muttered, ensuing that Sam and I (according to family rules) forfeited a turn. At least I’d had the forethought to hide the swear jar – deciding (rightly) that I would be the one filling it for the duration of our stay and therefore buying everyone’s drinks.

“He can’t help himself you know,” Rox continued, placating, trying to restore peace.

“It would just be nice if he made the odd cup of coffee or did some washing up,” I huffed. Rox laughed,

“I think that might be a step too far,” he joked. “At home I do all the cooking and the dishwasher does all the washing up.”

“I would never let Sam get away with that, I hope he knows how lucky he is,” I commented, throwing a black glance in Fredrick’s direction. “How did a nice guy like you end up with him anyway?” Rox hesitated a moment and looked at me,

“A support group,” he said.

“A support group for the unbelievably entitled?” I queried sarcastically, my usual sarky response out before I could veto what came out of my mouth. Rox shook his head at me. "Not funny Ellie."

“I’m sorry Rox that was bang out of order, my mouth gets ahead of my brain, Fredrick must know that none of us care about him being gay!” I exclaimed, “I mean, as far as I know no-one has even given him a hard time, mum and dad were fine and if our grandparents didn’t approve well, I don’t think they ever said.” Rox held up his hands.

“This is nothing to do with being gay.”

“Remember Jason?”

“Big bloke. Fireman. Bit of a neat freak. Always wanted to marry Fredrick.” Everyone always wanted to marry Fredrick. Not that this had ever made me bitter. Much. I had liked Jason.

“He hit Fred so hard he cracked his ribs, one of which nearly punctured a lung.” Rox said bluntly.


Fredrick had told us the broken ribs have been the result of a skiing accident, one that had left him really shaken. For a while afterwards, he’d had a slight tremor in his right hand, something so unlike him that mum had been really worried. Knowing it was a bad idea, but feeling like I had to do something, I had tried to be helpful. I had dropped off homemade soup, (it smelt of school dinner cabbage), and cleaned his flat, (‘Now I can’t find anything). He’d been moody, uncommunicative and sometimes drunk, until, eventually I’d given up.

“So, this support group?” I queried tentatively.

“Victims of Domestic Violence,” he seemed to anticipate my next question. “And no Ellie, I don’t want to talk about it, the only person I’ve ever really been able to talk about it to was Fred, he’s my life-saver you know.”

I stroked Nancy’s soft fur. “So how did break it off with Jason?”

“That’s his story,” Rox fixed his eyes on me, “and you can’t tell him I told you any of this or he’ll kill me, I’d just had enough of you two snipping at each other, that’s all., maybe you could cut each other a break?”

“I do try not to, but we bring out the worst in each other,” I offered feebly.

“Well maybe you should try a bit harder,” Rox offered tartly as Fredrick came back into the room.

“Try harder at what?” he asked,

“My new diet,” I replied (somewhat true) “I keep going off the rails by snacking on chocolate.”

“You’re looking a bit tubby,” Fredrick offered eyeing me critically, “the cut of that dress isn’t the best on you.”

“Thanks Versace, I’ll bear that in mind next time I go shopping.”

“I was just saying, Sam and Ellie should come around for dinner sometime,” Rox eyed Fredrick and some kind of eye dance conversation seemed to go on between them. I was never good at reading subtleties.

“I’ll bring pudding,” I offered, trying to be positive.

“I’d rather eat something edible,” Fredrick joked, “I’ll buy cake.” I swallowed my retort.

“It had better be good cake.” Heaven forbid he could say something nice. I blinked furiously.

“Tea or coffee anyone,” I offered fake-brightly, looking for an excuse to leave the room.

“Yes please darling,” my mum smiled, coming into the room, closely followed by Sam. “I’ve just had a snuggle with Jemima, isn’t she the most gorgeous girl?”

Sam followed me into the kitchen.

“Everything okay?”

I shrugged my shoulders helplessly, determined not to cry.

Will we ever stop sniping?

Should I feel bad that I’m still struggling to like him?

November 25, 2020 13:15

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