‘A woman’s place is in the home’ he said turning the page of his morning paper. She listened to his rant over some article about working mothers versus ladies who lunch as she poured hot water onto the teabags and popped the bread into the toaster. ‘These modern women think they can run a home, look after their husbands and hold down a job at the same time. It’s one or the other’ he said as he stirred sugar into his tea.’…and the other lot who don’t work and think they’ve nothing better to do than spend their husbands hard earned cash on clothes and fancy lunches while someobody else comes in to clean their homes. Married women have responsibilities to their families. You have those responsibilities Imelda’. Of course I have she thought as she placed his full Irish in front of him and went and to take the toast from the toaster. I’ve the stairs to hoover and your shirts to iron and who’d make your lunch if I dared to go out and have a life of my own? At least today is Thursday. Shopping day. Lots of lovely time out filling a trolly full of food and cleaning products. I might even get to have a chat with someone in the supermarket queue. Lunch with friends? Now there was a dream not likely to come true anytime in the foreseeable future. Sure, what pals did she have only her mop and bucket? Imelda thought of her sister Irene who lived in a big house in Stillorgan. She drove a brand new Mercedes to her boutique in Dundrum each day. She had a woman who came in to clean three times a week. She ate out most nights in fancy restaurants and on the nights she stayed in which was seldom, she ordered take out. No slaving over a hot stove for our Irene. No cooking for a family who gave no thanks and a husband who didn’t notice what she did until she didn’t do it. It was hard not to envy her sister. Irene had no family. She only had herself to take care of. The sisters rarely saw each other anymore since their mother died last year. Imelda missed her mother so much. She would go mad if she knew the girls had lost touch. She had made them promise always to be there for each other, no matter what, but they’d just drifted apart. Their lives were so different. It wasn’t Irene’s fault though. She had tried her best to keep in touch but Imelda never had the time. She was always busy with housework, cooking, shopping, and looking after his Lordship and the kids. ‘We need more sauce’ said Trevor as he shook the bottle over his fry up. ‘What?’ she replied distractedly. ‘Brown sauce… put it on your list will you, oh and get some of those chocolate biscuits I like too’. Imelda watched him hit the bottom of the sauce bottle furiously, his beer belly wobbling with each movement. She put her cup of tea down on the table and took off her apron. I wonder if Irene still takes Thursdays off from the boutique. She went out to the phone in the hallway and picking up the receiver, she dialled her sisters’ number. Ten minutes later, wearing her best dress and boots her hair combed loose out of its usual ponytail, Imelda popped her head around the kitchen door. ‘I’m off Trevor’ she said. ‘Don’t forget your trolley’ he said pointing to her brown shopping trolley by the back door. ‘…and why are you wearing lipstick to the supermarket?’ ‘I’m not going to the supermarket. There are fish fingers in the freezer and beans in the cupboard for dinner. The cooker is that big white thing in the corner.’ ‘You expect me to eat fish fingers and beans?’ he spluttered. ‘I’m not a child Imelda’. ‘Well stop acting like one then. I am not your mammy, oh by the way the stairs need hoovering after you fill the dishwasher. No need for me to be running after you now that you’re out of work and have plenty of time on your hands. The kids will be in from school at 3.30. ‘But where are you going? ‘He said. ‘I’m going out to lunch’ she replied. ‘Lunch? It’s only 9.30 in the morning Mel’. ‘It’s going to be a very long lunch Trevor’. He was still sitting with his mouth open,his mug of tea in mid air and a sausage hanging off the end of his fork as Imelda slammed the front door.