All Stories, Historical

Margery by Chloe Price

Margery was a stubborn woman, but not without reason. She spends her days sitting on uncomfortable ground, sweating over tiny cooking pots and trying to make the best meal she can with the small amounts of food she has. Everyone is thankful, no one complains, but she knows she can do better.

Years before joining camp, Margery was at the top of the food chain. She worked at The Sea Shell Inn, down in Plymouth. It was the place to go when men and women finished selling their fish at stalls along the coast, coming in to eat some fish of their own. Every part of a cod you could think of, chopped and scaled and slopped into a pot, served with steaming mash and a sprinkle of cheese, if Rita, the landlord, had any going spare.

Margery’s fish pies were the talk of the town. Sailors and city dwellers alike came in whenever they had the chance, shouting compliments from across the room with mouths full of food and fingers coated in grease.

At the end of each shift, Margery would head home with pride. She didn’t live too far from the docks, disappearing beneath her shawls to protect herself from the harsh wind. Her husband Arthur would be home later, sitting down to a salty pie she brought home from work, steam seeping out of the pastry as he sliced it open.

Salt. That was the one word Margery would use to describe her life during this time. Salty fish, salty sea, salty air. Salt was the one ingredient missing from her meals at camp. Her fingers ached to sprinkle just a tiny pinch – she could then watch other camp members light up at that first bite, crawling back for another helping as soon as they finished scraping their bowls clean.

Things would’ve been different if it wasn’t for Margery walking into Rita’s office three years ago, seeing her draped over Arthur, legs entangled, the room stinking of sweat. Their embrace was so tight that it was a few seconds before they realised that Margery was standing there. She didn’t say anything at first, just held Arthur’s blank stare before finally crumbling under the weight of it.

Margery’s soul hardened that day. She now hides in a shell, like the crabs she would pick from the fish market.

There was salt the day she left him. It came in the form of tears streaming down Arthur’s face as he begged her not to leave him.

But she did. She was no longer the same person, and every time she looked at him, she saw Rita, looking down at her with that sneer she always wore. So she walked out of their home and never looked back.

So now here she is. Living in a rugged, oversized camp filled with men and women who had also lost their families. It was started by highwaymen, who travelled with their families to protect them from the society they lived in. Now, it’s grown into a large family, made up of groups of people who have also lost their way, who came together to start a new life. She watches the young girls shunned and banished from their homes, pining for their husbands, wondering if they’ll ever see each other again.

Margery didn’t have the heart to tell them that their men were probably leaking themselves into other women within days of them leaving. Instead, she just sat on uncomfortable ground, wet or dry, sweating over little cooking pots, making the best she could with the small amounts she had, leaving those with yearning hearts to salt their food with their tears.

Chloe Price

Image – Wikicommons images. edited for size Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske) (talk | contribs)Transferred from Flickr by User:AlbertHerring

8 thoughts on “Margery by Chloe Price”

  1. Hi Chloe,
    I’m delighted to see this on the site.
    Not just an excellent story but an excellent story written by someone who showed so much professionalism!!
    Hope you have more for us soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very well written piece. Agree with David’s comments above. Excellent job in building a character and her world in so few words. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A sad, and very well told story. I found the line ‘She now hides in a shell, like the crabs she would pick from the fish market.’ particularly poignant and moving.


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