THE LAST CRUMB

A FAMILY, A SUPPER TABLE.

DAD IS FINISHING LAYING THE TABLE.

DAD: Come on you lot, to the table!

KIDS: Aw Dad!

DAD: Get off them personal devices—

KIDS: Aw Dad!

DAD: —like it’s not the first time you’ve been told.

KIDS: Aw Dad!

DAD: There’s got to be better things in life than flying kittens and puckering Kardashians.

KIDS: Aw Dad!

DAD: I know I know, hard life ain’t it? Impossible to believe. Come on to the table. You know you want to.

KIDS: Coming then…

THE FAMILY TAKE THEIR PLACES AT THE TABLE. THERE ARE , KNIVES & FORKS AND GLASSES BUT NO FOOD. THEY LOOK EXPECTANTLY AT DAD.

DAD: She’ll be here in bit. It’s a big day. Something to celebrate!

DOOR BELL RINGS.

DAD (CONT’D): And there she is. Someone let her in will you?

KID 1 GOES TO THE DOOR AND LETS IN MUM.

SHE ENTERS, CARRYING A BRACE OF LARGE, BULGING MORRISONS BAG-FOR-LIFE BAGS, IN A BIT OF A RUSH.

DAD: Get your shoes off love first.

MUM: It’s right cold out there I tell you. Monkeys! Go on clear some space.

SHE LOOKS FOR SOMEWHERE TO PUT THE BAGS.

DAD: Put them down love and get your shoes off first. Go on.

MUM: All right.

SHE PUTS DOWN THE BAGS BY THE TABLE THE. TAKES OFF HER SHOES AND PUTS ON SLIPPERS BROUGHT TO HER BY ONE OF THE KIDS. SHE SITS AT THE TABLE AND BEAMS IN A TIRED WAY AT EVERYONE.

THE KIDS SNIFF AROUND THE BAGS.

MUM: Hey you lot, leave them bags alone!

KIDS: But Mum!

DAD: (LAUGHS) Aw don’t listen to your Mum, she’s just a bit tired. Put the bags on the table kids.

MUM: No… don’t.

DAD: It’s alright.

THEY PUT THE BAGS ON THE TABLE AND OPEN THEM WITH ENTHUSIASM. THEY PULL OUT SCRUNCHED-UP CARRIER BAGS. THEIR FACES FALL WITH EACH NEW CARRIER BAG THAT EMERGES: LIDL, ALDI, MORRISONS, SAINSBURY’S, TESCO [NOTE, NOT CO-OP OR WAITROSE].

EVENTUALLY THEY SIT BACK, REGARDING BLANKLY THE PILES OF EMPTY BAGS ON THE TABLE.

KIDS: But what’s that Mum?

MUM: That’s your supper.

KIDS: But it’s a special day.

MUM: It is, of course it is love. And I couldn’t let the neighbours know. I couldn’t let anyone know.

KIDS: But what’s that Mum?

MUM: Like I said. Your supper.

KIDS: But it’s a special day.

MUM: I know love. I really do.

DAD: Know what?

MUM: I know that it’s a special day.

KID 2: It is, it is!

DAD: No, what you said, you couldn’t let anyone know.

KIDS: What did you do that for?

MUM: I didn’t want the neighbours to know.

KIDS: But Mum we don’t care what the neighbours think.

MUM: I know love and I’m proud you think that way. But I do. They’re not going to know.

KID 1: But know what?

KID 2: Aw, I’m hungry!

DAD: And it’s the big day!

MUM: But there’s no food this time. Seriously none, kids. I don’t know what we’ve done wrong to have ended up this way.

DAD: Ah love… (REACHES ACROSS TO TAKE HER HANDS)

KIDS: But I’m hungry. Can we go to our mates?

DAD: It’s not as simple as that.

KIDS: Dad?!

MUM: Oh don’t encourage them.

DAD: Yeah I know I know. I didn’t know, well I did but not till just now, did I?

MUM: So what are we going to do?

DAD: It’s never been this bad.

KID 1: Last weekend Dad.

DAD: All right. But we went round your Nan’s.

KID 2: And now she’s coming round here.

DAD: I see what you mean. Bright lass.

KID 1: I’m bright too aren’t I?

DAD: Hmm, let me think.

KID 1: Aw Dad!

MUM: Course you are.

KIDS: But I really am hungry.

DAD: The neighbours— (WINCES) Sorry…

MUM: And so you should be.

DAD: Well they’ve got nowt. And we’ve done all the asking we can. There’s no more in that cookie jar.

MUM: Is there anything in the house love?

DAD: (SPREADS HIS ARMS REGRETFULLY) We’ve already spent next week’s rent. All on food. There’s no gas to cook it even if we had it.

MUM: I didn’t want this to be in front of the kids. It’s not right.

KID 1: You’re all right mum. We’re not bothered.

KID 2: But I am hungry. It were sprouts at school.

KID 1: Yeah again!

MUM: But you ate it all. Didn’t you? Did you?

KID 1: Well sort of. We were hungry.

KID 2: And we know what you say about eating at school.

KID 1: But it were sprouts.

MUM: (ANGRILY) Oh kids you know you have to eat.

KID 2: I’m hungry.

MUM: What have I told you?

KID 1: But the other kids didn’t eat their sprouts.

MUM: But what have I—

DAD: Easy love. We’ll explain it to them.

KID 2: Can we go round our Nan’s?

DAD: She’s got nowt and she’s coming over tonight isn’t she?

KIDS: Oh that’s right.

DAD: Kids, we’ll work something out. After all we’re celebrating!

KIDS: We are. We’ve got our mum back!

THE KIDS RUN ROUND AND HUG THEIR MUM.

MUM: Remission. It’s official.

DAD: It’s all been worth it!

MUM: Has it?

DAD: Oh don’t you even think it. Eh kids?

KIDS: Wahey!! (THEY HUG HER)

KID 2: But what about the neighbours Mum?

KID 1: What’s all this about the bags?

DAD: Oh don’t bother your Mum.

MUM: No, it’s all right. I.. I don’t know… I just… You know how people are. Look kids, you have to know the food I’ve brought back most nights has come from the hospital. Mummy hasn’t been shopping. Mummy hasn’t been able to afford the shopping for quite some time and nor’s your father. Every day I’ve been there for the chemo, and all with this weakness I had to spend the money on the bus fare. I wanted to walk but your Dad said no. If he’s here looking after you rabble every day, he said, then I’ve got to listen to him and concentrate on getting better. Bless him. And I’ll be honest with you now, I just couldn’t walk it any more. I tried but I couldn’t. And that was the last of our money, after the rent – which we’ve not paid by the way, Dad’s just told us – and the bills and the money we owe. You’re too young to know but really, as your Nan’s always saying, you’re never too young to learn. We never planned it like this. We never planned any of this. But on a day like today… And when they found out that I’ve been spending the last of our money on the bus, and your Dad not being able to work because of looking after me and all of you, they wanted to have a whip-round but I said I couldn’t. It’s not right. And when you’re there at the cancer unit you see so many who’re off so much worse. I couldn’t, we couldn’t. But they started giving me food, and that’s what I’ve been bringing back in those shopping bags every night, hoping everyone will think it’s all come from the Morrisons or Aldi on the way back from the hospital. And now I’m better… No more chemo… no more food. I just didn’t want the neighbours to know.

KIDS HUG HER EVEN TIGHTER.

DAD: Hey, hey, hey! I forgot, we’ve got some cake left over in the back of the cupboard. (LOOKS) Oh yes.

KIDS: What?!

DAD BRINGS OUT A COUPLE OF SLICES PROUDLY ON A PLATE.

DAD: There WAS something in the cookie jar. Now now kids, not all at once. We’d better leave a crumb or two for your Nan. Or not!

DOORBELL RINGS.

DAD (CONT’D): That’ll be her.

MUM: I’ll go.

SHE GETS UP AND GOES TO THE DOOR.

DAD: Get stuck in! Quick!

KIDS: Aw Dad!!

ENDS