ED: Maria, she’s the rock of my life really. No, we’re rocks for each other if I’m honest.
MARIA: A bit of dry land in the rocky seas we call life. Ooh, did you see what I did there?! (CHUCKLES)
ED: We knew each other all those many years ago. Grew up on the same street, we went to the same school.
MARIA: We did, didn’t we?
ED: We courted but I moved away and we lost contact a bit.
MARIA: It was me who moved away. You stayed right here. Same street it was. Well to a degree we lost contact I suppose. All that moving away. I’d met a lovely chap who wasn’t from these parts. But our families knew each other so we always knew right where we were.
ED: That’s right. And then there was the, erm… (FALLS SILENT FOR A WHILE)
MARIA: The what, dear?
ED: Well, it’s funny…
MARIA: Tell them how we got married. You remember.
ED: Oh yes. (SILENCE) Maria and I got married on the very same day.
MARIA: We did. Oh it was funny.
ED: Not to each other, mind. To our respective partners. I married Brenda and Maria married Kevin.
ED: Yes that’s it, yes.
MARIA: And then our first-borns.
ED: Twins! Not of each other mind. But two sets of twins. Incredible.
MARIA: That’s right. Not born on the same day no. That would be right strange, but both families were blessed with twins. Helen and Hilary, Arthur and Benjamin. Both identicals. Like peas in a pod!
ED: And then…
MARIA: Well the other children appeared, our Chris, your Lucas — three boys you had! I don’t know what that’s like! — and we raised our families. I suppose that’s what people do. Get on with it. And I worked of course, earned an honest wage. You have to. Plus there was work in those days. I was a dinner lady for 25 years. Count ’em! Well it fit in didn’t it with the children. Not enough in one wage to feed a growing family. My other half, Kenneth, he was on the buses, happy there. Never retired. Never had the chance. And then they called me one day. He’d dropped dead they said, just like that. Drove his bus back to depot at end of day, parked it and that’s when it took him.
ED: Heart attack, I remember.
MARIA: That’s right, you do remember. And it was hard going really. I got a bit from the life insurance but we still had all them bills to pay. And although the kids were old enough, I wasn’t about to take them from their studies and send to the coal face. No, I had to make do and that’s why I ended coming back here. Best decision I ever made really. I don’t miss it back there although it was hard in some ways for the kids the new life here. They did miss their friends especially. But they always know this was their home, and they’re not bothered now.
ED: Lucas is a dentist.
MARIA: He was.
MARIA: The kids have done well as I said. Hilary’s a financial advisor in town, Helen has got two beautiful girls, the apples of this grandmother’s eye, and Chris, our youngest, has his own garage now. Right proud of them.
ED: Lucas is a dentist.
MARIA: He is. Or was, love. (SILENCE) And then when I moved back we got in touch again didn’t we? We did.
MARIA: And your Brenda, well she’d passed away sudden too hadn’t she, the year before I’d come back. Her veins. I never quite understood why but they tell me she was okay right up up to the very end, you’d never guess. I do think she suffered.
ED: We fell in love. I think we were always in love.
MARIA: I think so. And it were a great wedding. Up in the town hall. Really pushed the boat out didn’t we? And the children were so good about it. They knew, they knew.
ED: Aye they knew. I do look after you. In your wheelchair and all. You know she’s been like this all her life.
MARIA: I’ve not love, no. Don’t you remember? I fell didn’t I? Last month. It’s my bones.
ED: Like Brenda.
MARIA: Like Brenda. She was in a wheelchair for a long time wasn’t she? She wasn’t well.
ED: Wasn’t she?
MARIA: She wasn’t.
ED: I looked after her.
MARIA: You did.
ED: I was her rock.
MARIA: You were, love, you were.