Rachel Grosvenor is a British writer and tutor, with a PhD, MA and BA Hons in Creative Writing. She writes in various genres and forms, from travel writing to fantasy, and her work has been published in equally diverse places – from Cadaverine Magazine to the wall of the blue bedroom at the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton. Rachel’s writing news can be followed on Instagram at @teachmecreativewriting, or on her website www.RachelGrosvenorAuthor.com.
The Preservation of Time
The red pasta, lentils, sunflower seeds, small hard balls of dried and thick linguine, shedding flecks from their pre-prepared husks. Your hand hovers over glass cylinders, and you wonder what to do with them. Maybe you should take them home and prepare an Italian feast in her honour. You pull a mason jar full of peeled tomatoes from the shelf, inspecting the handwritten label. Only three months old. You imagine her, carefully measuring the lemon juice, the way she had taught you as a child. Her steady hands, the years of preserving experience, perhaps the only family heirloom.
‘Why are you hugging a jar of tomatoes?’
Your mother squeezes your shoulder gently. She pulls the items from the shelf, and you turn in mild surprise, to see the rest of the pantry has already been cleared. The jars are being pushed into cardboard boxes.
‘Where are these going?’ You ask, your throat catching for the third time that morning.
‘To the tip, love.’ Is the answer.
You lean a hand on your mother’s wrist and shake your head, frowning. ‘We should eat them, shouldn’t we? She hated waste. We should make a meal.’
Your mother smiles and wrinkles her nose, ‘We haven’t really the time my love, and between you and I, her lemon and salt style of preservation never did give me much of an appetite.’
You nod. Your mother has lost her mother, she outweighs you in the decision-making process. But still, you close your eyes and remember the taste of your grandmother’s Italian tomato sauce. The hints of garlic and red onion. The scent of fresh basil on the chopping board. And her hands, deftly stirring the pot with a practiced air. You breathe in the scents of the pantry, willing it to be the past.