by Sue Johnson
My Fred never used to like cooking until he found an old book in a junk shop with hand-written recipes − some of them with dubious-looking stains on them.
I didn’t complain. Going off to the market each day gave him something to do, and stopped him asking awkward questions about my extra dance classes with Alan Jennings.
I looked forward to coming home to see what Fred had been cooking. I was always hungry. Needless to say, Alan and I weren’t dancing. We indulged in frenzied love-making at the hotel where he worked. There was never time to eat anything.
When I got home, Fred presented me with delights like strawberry shortcake with Prosecco, lemon drizzle cake with Earl Grey tea, or chocolate and brandy cake with dark espresso coffee.
‘Come on Doreen,’ he’d say. ‘Time for today’s special recipe.’
When I began suffering from stomach pains and dizzy spells, I blamed it on the extra intake of calories. Alan wasn’t happy when I kept texting to say I was ill. I dreaded the thought of him calling round to the house, especially as Fred was around more. He looked after me and our relationship seemed better than before.
The symptoms stopped and I almost felt I’d imagined them. Then on my birthday Fred woke me with a huge slice of coffee and walnut cake with my morning tea.
After three bites it felt as if I was on a merry-go-round. The room spun and tilted. I clung to the edge of the bed. Fred was standing by the bed holding the recipe book. On the grimy front cover it said: ‘Spells for Modern Witches.’
‘Goodbye Doreen,’ he said, ‘Happy dancing in Heaven.’