Benita

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It’s been a while since I last posted but I have had lots of projects and deadlines and have only just surfaced for air.

Here is a short monologue, which I may use in the Field Street Monologues if people like it. I’d welcome your comments below.

Benita

‘Benita Geraldi Fernandez’, that’s what he said her name was – I thought that sounds a bit exotic for a woman who works on the trams, so I asked him where he’d met her. He said he was standing in the queue at Hussain’s kebab house on the high street and she fell into his falafel pitta.

I said, ‘was she drunk?’

He said ‘No, she was having trouble with her wedges.’

‘What were they too spicy?’ I said and he said no, she normally wears flats but her friends had encouraged her to try a heel.

I thought most woman had mastered a four inch by the time they were thirty, but I didn’t like to say – she was probably one of those frumpy sorts who go for a Doctor Martin and a man’s sock.

Back in my day, women knew how to dress like women. A nice two piece or a gathered skirt and cardi. I wouldn’t have been seen dead in a flat shoe.

Mind you I’m paying for it now. Mr Singh at the chiropodists asked if he could photograph my bunions for the ‘Best foot forward’ chiropody magazine, as they were the biggest he’d seen on a woman with a size three shoe.

I’ve got the article somewhere – it doesn’t mention my name for confidentiality reasons, but you can tell it’s my foot on-account-of the scar across my big toe where Sid severed it with an industrial lawn mower. Six hours I was in surgery – it was touch and go whether they’d be able to sew it back on, but Bird’s Eye came to the rescue with the frozen sprouts I’d bought for Sid’s tea.

There was a whole page on them, my bunions I mean, it turned out to be a meaty article on how women in The Black Country, generally have smaller feet than those in the neighbouring towns. Some historian had made a link between clogs and flooded factories, and the stunted foot growth of working Black Country women. It said apparently, it would take generations for the foot size to catch up to a national average.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted, it turned out Daniel had asked this Benita woman, round for tea. They’ve been going out a while now and he thought it was time he introduced her to the family.  I say family, there’s only me left now since Sid died, god rest his soul.

I bought a pack of Eccles and a tin of salmon cus I didn’t want her thinking I was common, and I gave the cushions a wash in that new fabric conditioner I got off the market – smells like Parma-violets. Lost on our Daniel though cus the first thing he asked as he walked into the hall was ‘Has the cat pissed on the carpet again?’

‘Language Daniel,’ I said, not in front of our guest.

‘Oh don’t worry about me Mrs Grainger,’ she said, ‘you hear all sorts on the trams.’

I’ve got to be honest, I thought it was Daniel speaking at first – she had a very deep voice, like Lauren Bacall. Raspy and heavy like a Woodbine smoker.

She kissed me on both cheeks and held on to my hands, ‘It’s so lovely to meet you at last,’ she said, ‘Daniel has told me so much about you.’

Daniel piped up,  ‘don’t worry mum, I didn’t mention the incident with the charity shop.’

Of course, that got her asking, ‘What incident?’ and Daniel went on to tell her – well I didn’t know where to put myself – the woman had only been in the house five minutes.

I wouldn’t mind but it was an easy mistake to make, I mean I’d never seen one before and how was I to know what it was, as it didn’t have a box.

Well, Benita had a belly laugh louder than a fog horn.

‘What and you told the old man it was for frothing his coffee?’ she asked, tears and mascara rolling down her cheeks.

‘Well it had different speeds,’ I said ‘so I imagined one might be for hot chocolate.’

‘Are you saying, you sold a vibrator to an old man to froth up his cocoa?’ she said.

‘Well it did the trick, it was only when his daughter came in the shop and made a complaint that I found out what it was really for.’

I’d noticed when Benita was laughing that her very short skirt had risen-up and she had a fair old set of muscles on those legs of hers; like those runners you see on the TV. She struggled to cross them though, which I put down to the size of the quadriceps.

I couldn’t stop looking at her face either. It can be quite unforgiving when you have dark hair. And the way the sun caught her chin made me think that she was no stranger to the hair removal cream. That said she had good solid bone structure and I could see why Daniel had been attracted to her.

I’m not going to lie, I was quite impressed at the speed in which she could woof down an Eccles – and with hardly any crumbs down her cleavage. And Daniel was having trouble keeping up with her when I brought out the salmon quarters. They were going down in one mouthful. Still, I thought, I like a girl with an appetite. Much better than those who pick at their food.

They must have been there about an hour or so when Daniel said he had something he wanted to talk to me about. I was already thinking marriage seemed a bit hasty, after all they’d only been going out a few months, but when they both looked so serious and he grabbed hold of her hand and placed it on his lap, I started to get a bit tetchy.

‘I’m not sure how you are going to react to this,’ he said.

I said, I’ve lived through the blitz and sixties ready meals, there’s not much that can faze me now.’

And that’s when he said it, I suppose I should have guessed by the big hands and deep voice, the shadowy skin and size eight feet.

Turns out…and I must say it came as a big shock…but it turns out………. she’s from Birmingham.

I can’t say I’m happy about it, we like to keep ourselves separate see. It might only be seven miles down the road, but it may as well be on the other side of the world when you take account of our differences.

I said, ‘I thought you were going to tell me that she used to be a man. I could live with that, I have been known to watch Channel 4 you know.’

Daniel smiled, ‘Well now you mention it mum.’