At Breakfast

by | May 30, 2020

The kitchen tiles are finding their corners in the half-light. In the small flat on the top floor of the house, two women sit at the breakfast table. They’re nurses in the early months of 1933. Two empty porridge bowls have been pushed aside. Two half-drunk cups of tea stand between them on the table; the women’s four hands are wrapped around them.


MARY: And now I ask myself if I really am her, the person whose eyes I meet in the mirror – is she me, or is she Julie? These days I find it harder and harder to find the line between the two of us. Are those my eyes?

JULIE:   Perhaps it’s one of mine, one of yours? A half of each of us? The colours start to mix together with the paint on the walls – and when the sun hits it –


A clock strikes seven; the hour becomes harder to share. Outside, a blurry skyline turns into a church spire wringing its thin hands.


MARY: The mirror has no authority in this house anyway, not since I’ve lived with you. Sometimes I worry that I’ll go to work one day, and people will read Julie on my face, a backwards alphabet.

JULIE:   If I write on your face, it won’t be yours anymore. We share the same costume – our uniforms are identical, the blue and the white; we often wear each other’s by accident, and we don’t notice all day. Can that happen with faces too?

MARY: I’m afraid I swapped your hands for mine in the darkness of our bedroom, completely unconsciously. My textbooks don’t mention the possibility, but the books leave out a lot.

JULIE:   It doesn’t balance out: in the world outside we exist so far from each other that, at home, we’re far too close. Outside, we could be strangers, who still somehow live together, and inside we’re halved into one curved figure.

MARY: But in the books it says –

JULIE:   You’ll write new books. You promised that to me.

MARY: Yes. I promised that to me.∎


Words by Ro Crawford. Art by Xander Haveron-Jones.