The Closet of Savage Mementos

The Closet of Savage Mementos by Nuala Ní Chonchúir Read Free Book Online

Book: The Closet of Savage Mementos by Nuala Ní Chonchúir Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nuala Ní Chonchúir
contentment. A trio of ducks flies frantically up from the harbour, flapping as if afraid they might fall from the air. The tourists shield their eyes to watch, some take photographs, and they all cheer when the ducks make it over the rooftops and out of sight.
    Presto has five small trays of gooseberries left. I buy the lot. I drop one into my bedroom in the staff house and take four back to Dulcie in the kitchen. Struan is there, chopping vegetables because the kitchen porter has not shown up.
    Dulcie takes the trays from me. ‘I’m going to make Gooseberry Fool.’
    ‘Old fool makes new fool,’ Struan says.
    Dulcie swipes at him and he grabs her into his arms and waltzes around the kitchen, humming Strauss as he goes.
    ‘Let me go, you fucking madman,’ Dulcie says, but she beams and submits to the dance.
    ‘Struan, I’ll call around to yours later,’ I say, and he winks at me over Dulcie’s shoulder, then spins her past the sink.
    Struan’s place is a two-bedroomed fisherman’s cottage and it huddles in a row of identical ones on Clanranald Street. I carry my tray of gooseberries to his house, stopping in Presto for a bag of sugar and some scones on the way. Struan spends so much time at the inn that his home is always clean and neat, barely lived-in, which I love. The house seems to wait for us, as patient as an old dog, and it springs to life when we walk its rooms. It smells of tobacco but also of the rosemary oil that Struan sprinkles on the radiators. His furniture is second hand and rough, which makes me feel at home. Verity could never pass a skip without pulling out a chair or a table – it didn’t matter how broken up or filthy. I have always liked the way other people’s heirlooms shed their history as they settle down in a new owner’s rooms.
    I lift the hinge of the door knocker and bang it, still not feeling I have the right to use the key Struan gave me, when I know he is inside.
    ‘Well, helloooo,’ he says, opening the door.
    ‘Are you trying to sound sexy?’ I ask, kissing him.
    ‘Do I not sound sexy?’
    I hold up the gooseberries and sugar. ‘Jam,’ I say.
    ‘Contraband. Did you nick those on Dulcie?’
    ‘I bought them. I wanted to make you some jam.’
    We sit at the kitchen table together, top and tailing the fruit, listening to the dance music that Struan has recently decided he loves. He boogies in his chair, elbowing me to join in. When the jam is at a rattling boil on the stove, he gets up and goes riffling through the food press.
    ‘We need ginger,’ he says, pushing jars and tins to and fro along the shelves. ‘Where the fuck is it?’
    ‘We don’t need ginger.’
    ‘I thought you said this jam was for me and I like ginger with goosegogs.’
    ‘Oh my God – you’re such a whinge-bag sometimes. Here, let me look. And it’s goose gobs not goose gogs .’
    ‘Gobs. Gogs. Who cares?’ I find some ground ginger and toss it in; Struan stands over the pot, stirring the jam with a smug smile. ‘Domestic bliss,’ he says.
    Struan carries the jam and scones up the stairs on a tray. I strip, tossing my clothes onto the bedroom chair, and we eat and drink tea, sitting up in Struan’s bed.
    ‘The perfect way to spend my afternoon off, I must say.’
    ‘Mmm,’ Struan says. ‘And thanks. It was very sweet of you to think of making jam. No one has ever done that for me before.’
    ‘Hey, you’re welcome. You’re always doing stuff for me, dinners and that, so I thought it would be a change.’
    He kisses my shoulder and flicks my nipple with one finger. ‘It’s nice of you.’
    ‘What can I say? I’m a nice girl.’ I kiss his nose. ‘It’s a while since I made jam. Me and my friend Dónal made it as kids. We’d spend hours collecting blackberries, then his mother would let us loose in her kitchen. Mrs Spain had the patience of ten saints. Unlike Verity.’
    ‘You make your mother sound awful. Is she really that bad?’
    ‘Worse.’ I lick jam off my

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