The Fortnum & Mason Easter egg arrived by chance on a morning when she was feeling particularly in need of a bit of cheer. Albert had been unusually grouchy that night and had had her up almost every hour on the hour. Now sat in his high chair at the kitchen table, which coincidently looked like the scene from the apocalypse, he was contentedly eating his porridge as if nothing had been wrong. She placed the egg on the side board and stared at its fancy and luxurious packaging, dusky pink with gold trimmings. Even the egg was decorated with intricate sugar flowers, she could see through the clear part on the front of the box. She glanced over at Albert to see if he had noticed this gleaming box of delight she had strategically placed as far away from his grasp as possible, but as usual he was completely focused on the food in front of him. She pushed the box further away from the edge of the side unit, revelling in its connection with the outside adult world she used to be a part of. She looked at the clock it was already eleven, and yet again she really didn’t feel like getting dressed. She remembered a time when a lounge wear day was a luxury, now it was the norm and it made her feel slightly queasy at the thought.
There was a small clatter and as her eyes came back into focus she realised that Albert had finished his porridge and successfully thrown his bowl on the floor. He looked at her expectantly, so she picked him up and carried him through to the sitting room. Last week when she had been feeling a little more upbeat she had concocted a mound of cushions for him to sit in in an attempt to keep him occupied, she sat him it now and watched his little face light up at the sight of one of his toys. She stood up and looked at her reflection in the mirror above the fireplace. Her hair was in a greasy topknot, and there was a little bit of split porridge on her top, she sighed.
She looked around the rest of the room, furnished to her exact specifications three years ago, the large comfy couch in brushed chenille, the abundance of cushions that now made up Albert’s soft play area, and it suddenly dawned on her she had no idea who had sent the egg. She picked up the phone and rang her mum ‘No it wasn’t me darling, how are you? Remember anytime you need a break just bring Albert here.’ Her mum was so thoughtful; she should really take Albert to see her more often.
She rang Harry’s office but his receptionist told her he was in a meeting and as she looked down at the cushion pile she noticed Albert had dosed off, his little arms outstretched and his belly full of porridge. She smiled at his sleeping face and crept from the room.
Taking the baby monitor with her she went to the bathroom and sat on the side of the bath waiting for the water to warm up. She stripped off the clothes she had been wearing for the past three days lathered, shaved and washed her hair. She dried herself and applied moisturiser then put on some mascara. She dried her hair, and put on tights and a jumper dress surprising herself how easily they went on. She put on some jewellery for the first time in about three months then she went downstairs. She peeked in on Albert but he was still spread eagled atop the cushions on the sitting room floor so she shut the door quietly and went into the kitchen.
The egg was still there, gleaming like a beacon from the side unit, and alone in the still quiet of her messy kitchen she opened the box. It tasted so good she could scream. It tasted like real life, life before nappies and night feeds and mess. It tasted like fancy restaurants and Sunday morning toast in bed, and hotel holidays. She ate until she could eat no more, which wasn’t very much as it turned out, then closed the box up again cleared a space in the fridge and shut the door.
Albert was coming round as she went back into the sitting room, his sleepy eyes focused on her face and he smiled a big warm smile that she knew he did only for her. She picked him up and he nuzzled in close to her neck his little hand on her own. She hugged him tight. She looked over at the telephone, the green light flashing telling her she had a message. She pressed the button. ‘Hello dear, it’s only me. Just wondered if you received my little gift this morning? I hope it cheers you up. I know you have been feeling down, and thought this might help I know how much you used to like treats from Fortnum & Mason. Anyway I hope you like it. See you tonight.’ The machine clicked off, Albert snuggled in closer and she smiled, it had cheered her up, more than he would ever know.