Delyth looks at the slanted writing, the looping gs, and the capitalized B for Bisto with its flourishes, making even this common-or-garden shopping list look elegant. The paper is yellowing, and the crease where her mother folded the list is grimy now. A few years ago, she thought about laminating it to protect the precious scrap of her mother, but she knew she needed to run her fingers over the list as she read the items like an incantation that brought her mother back. Delyth inherited other objects from her Mum, but none can conjure her so clearly as the concertinaed piece of paper she found in her mother’s winter coat pocket before donating her clothes to the Red Cross.
Now she takes down her mother’s Mason Cash mixing bowl and runs her fingers over the pattern; the rim embossed with zig-zags reminds her of a rabbit trap. The repeated pattern around the outside is more like a Nice biscuit in its rectangular shape and lightly toasted color. Delyth wipes out the inside of the bowl. She only uses this bowl once a year, and it has gathered a layer of dust and gritty bits from being stored with the baking pans. Her mother used the bowl every Monday, which was the baking day in her childhood home, so she knows this list could be from any time. But she secretly believes it’s from the last February of her mother’s life as she prepared to make Welsh Cakes for St. David’s Day on March 1st. She folds the list with her hurt and puts it in her Jamie Oliver cookery book for safekeeping.
It is almost impossible to find lard in Connecticut, so Delyth doubles the butter and substitutes raisins for currants as the only ones she can find in Whole Foods are Zante currants. They are not like any currant she has ever known; they are tiny and hard like apple pips and are like eating grit. And Delyth’s doubtful of American “All-Purpose Flour,” so she uses plain flour and baking powder. Delyth has never liked mixed spice, but she dutifully shook it into the dough for years, but now time has healed some of the rawness, so she omits the heavy spice. Her hurt is still there, but it has formed into a bruise that throbs when touched by memory.
Delyth asks Alexa to play “Don’t Rain On My Parade” as she weighs out the sugar. She loves musicals; it is something else she inherited from her mother. Their small town had a cinema, but it was only open in the Summer when the town doubled its population with all the holidaymakers coming for their two-week holiday at the seaside. And Funny Girl, the film with Barbara Streisand, was one of their favorites. Recently, Delyth had seen her in concert at Madison Square Gardens, and when Streisand sang that song, Delyth had felt a mixture of happiness that she was there and sadness she couldn’t tell her Mum. This feeling has colored many moments in her life. Her Mum had missed so much, Delyth’s graduation, her wedding, and the birth of each of her children.
Only one of her children liked the Welsh Cakes made to the original recipe, and none of them appreciated her love of musicals. So, to entice them, Delyth started adding chocolate chips, and although none of them live at home anymore, she still puts in a handful.
You can’t find anything like a Welsh Cake this side of the pond, but when she first moved, she was elated to find that “silver dollar pancakes” were just like the pikelets her Mum made. So she goes to Orem’s Diner and orders a plateful when she is especially missing home. The butter they serve is a poor pale imitation of the golden butter Delyth grew up with, but she gets the ghostly taste of Welsh rain on her tongue if she closes her eyes. She still can’t believe she misses the many sorts of rain they get in Wales. Living in Connecticut is like living in a child’s illustrated book of the seasons; each delivers precisely what you’d imagine. In Wales, you tell the seasons by the type of rain. Autumn has a fine drench, Winter has heavy cloud-bursting rain that comes down in threads, Spring is a constant drizzle, and Summer is interspersed with surprisingly warm showers and weak sunny days. In America, Delyth’s children were always the only ones in the playground if it was raining. She dressed them in bright rain suits and welly boots and showed them how much fun it was to splash in puddles and catch cold drops on your tongue.
Each March, as she cooks, she is reminded how time-consuming the whole process is. All the women in her family had a bakestone to make Welsh Cakes and pikelets. Her Nan’s was made from slate inherited from her mother, Delyth’s Mum had one made of cast iron, but Delyth has an electric skillet. As she stands watching the cakes making sure they don’t burn, she gets a text from her daughter. Megan wants to know how many chocolate chips to add to the Welsh Cake recipe and if she can use a frying pan for cooking them. She is making them for her boyfriend for their first St. David’s Day living together. Delyth feels her scalp prickle as she makes a mental note to get Megan a skillet and types, “I put in a handful but up 2 u-can’t have 2 much choc!” She adds a laughing emoji even though she is crying.
Adele Evershed is an early years educator and writer. She was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. Her prose has been published in a number of online journals such as Every Day Fiction, Free Flash Fiction, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Her poetry can be found in High Shelf, Hole in the Head Review, Monday Night, Tofu Ink Arts Press, The Fib Review, Wales Haiku Journal, Shot Glass Journal, Sad Girls Club and Green Ink Poetry. Adele has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the Staunch Prize for flash fiction, an international award for thrillers without violence to women. Visit her website, The Lit Hag.