The O’Donoghues at Breakfast

By David Duff

"Mary, your breakfast is ready. Come on now or you’ll be late for school," said Mrs O'Donoghue.

She’d been up since 6:00, catching up on the ironing and fixing the food.

"Mary, give your father a call as well, will ya?"

There was no reply. It was 7:30 now. Today was the day.

Mary heard her mother shouting. She wouldn’t get up for that. She’d be able to sleep through that if she wanted, but the smell of black pudding and the rashers and the runny eggs, now that was enough to get her up alright. Up she rose for breakfast, but off to the loo she went first.

"Christ, I’m bursting," she said to herself.

She walked past her parents' bedroom and called her dad.

"Dad, Mam has brekky ready downstairs. She told me to call ya"

A grunt came out from under the blankets, followed by a fart.

"DAD!!!" said Mary.

Her dad started to laugh.

"Morning thunder, Mary. Morning thunder."

Mr O’Donoghue had been having a grand dream. So grand in fact, that he had woken up with a touch of a horn, something which was unusual for him these days.

"COME ON THE BOTH OF YE," shouted Mrs O’Donoghue.

It was 7.45 now. If they weren’t out the door by ten past eight, the traffic would be hectic and Mrs O’Donoghue would never make it to her appointment.

"I’M UP. I’M UP," said Mary.

Her piss was halfways through.

"Oh, fuck it," said Mary to her legs, "me period’s starting."

A bit of it had fallen on the toilet seat. She’d have to clean that. She’d got in trouble for not cleaning it a few times before.

Mr O’Donoghue knocked on the bathroom door.

"Come on, Mary, the thunder’s gonna be followed by some rain."

She ignored him.

"Come on, will ya, before I shit meself here on the carpet, Mary!"

"DAD," said Mary.

Mary finished her piss and wiped that blob off the white of the seat. She flushed the toilet and wet her hands in the sink. Mary never washed her hands properly, and it showed under her nails. She opened the bathroom door. In ran her dad without so much as a second of spare time to close the door.

"DAD! Why don’t ya ever close the fucking door. You’re disgusting."

"Ah shut up, will ya. Close the fucking thing yourself if it bothers ya so much."

"Having to hear you farting and shitting right before I have breakfast isn’t what I want to be doing in the mornings," said Mary.

Mr O’Donoghue ignored his daughter. He was deep in thought now and making an effort to squeeze out the terrors of the night. Mary closed the door.

"MARY!" shouted Mrs O’Donoghue.

"Yea, yea," said Mary, "I’m coming down the stairs now."

It was 7.52. Mary walked into the kitchen and sat on her chair.

"Is there tea made?" said Mary.

"Is there tea made. Is there tea made. Is. There. Tea. Made!!!" said Mrs O’Donoghue, "Well, what would you think?"

Mary didn’t know what to say. Lately her mother had stopped making tea in the mornings. Mary hadn’t asked why. 

"Well, eh . . . ," said Mary.

Before Mary could finish, Mrs O’Donoghue had a steaming teapot put on the table and a whole heap of breakfast for Mary, too.

"Thanks, Mam."

The smell of the pork and the sight of the butter made Mary very happy.

"You’re welcome, love."

Mrs O’Donoghue patted Mary on the head and walked back to the kitchen counter. Her hand felt a little greasy after touching Mary’s head, so she gave it a quick wash in the sink.

"Mary, when was the last time ya washed your hair?"

"The other day."

Her mouth was stuffed with black-pudding.

It was a lie. Mary didn’t have a clue when she'd washed her hair last. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d washed the rest of herself. She took a sniff of her armpits. They were smelly alright. Her fanny was smellier. She’d checked that last night.

"Are ya sure?" asked Mrs O’Donoghue.

"Of course, I’m sure," said Mary. "I think I know when I wash my hair and when I don’t. Do ya think I’m thick or something?"

"Okay, so," said Mrs O’Donoghue.

She knew her daughter was lying but she didn’t feel like arguing with her, and she did think that Mary was thick. She’d been as thick as shit since she turned thirteen.

"Good morning, family," said Mr O’Donoghue.

He strolled into the kitchen with the morning paper underneath his elbow and only his tighty-whiteys on.

"Did ya have that paper in the loo with ya?" asked Mrs O’Donoghue.

"I wish," said Mr O’Donoghue. "I didn’t have time to go down the stairs and get it. And sure, ‘tis not like no child of mine would bring it up to me, would they now Mary?"

He pinched Mary’s cheek. He loved aggravating her.


"Ah, leave her alone, will ya," said Mrs O’Donoghue, "she’s trying to eat her breakfast."

"Christ, I forgot to wash my hands," said Mr O’Donoghue.

A spray of pork and egg came out of Mary’s mouth.


Mr O’Donoghue laughed at his daughter and rubbed his hand on her toast. More screams came. It was 8.02 now.

"You dirty fucker," said Mary.

"Mary O’Donoghue," said her mother, "watch that toilet of a mouth, will ya!"

"Ah, leave her alone," said her dad.

Mary left the table and stomped up the stairs, complaining about having to wash herself before leaving and having no time now for a second breakfast.

"Well," said Mrs O’Donoghue to her husband, "we’re going to be late for the appointment now over you."

"Ah, relax, will ya."

"And your hands -- aren’t ya gonna wash them? Or are ya just gonna sit here and cover everything in shit."

"There’s no shit on my hands. Do you be thinking that I wipe myself without paper or something?"

Mrs O’Donoghue didn’t answer him.

 "And besides, they’re washed already."

He took a bite into some toast.

"What?" said Mrs O’Donoghue.

"Did I stutter?" said Mr O’Donoghue "I said they’re washed already."

"So you were only doing it to annoy her and . . . ," said Mrs O’Donoghue.

Her husband interrupted her.

"Come on now. You know me better than that."

The shower started upstairs. Mrs O’Donoghue was trying to work out what he was on about. He took another bite of toast and laughed at his wife.

"I had to do something to trick her into having a wash. Did ya not see the fucking state of her. There was a smell on her that ya wouldn’t find off me own hole."

Mrs O’Donoghue laughed now, too. She loved her husband. He was always up to something more.

"Ah but we’ll be late now," said she.

Mr O’Donoghue took a look at his watch.

"It’s eight minutes past eight. We’ll be grand. Maybe we’ll be five minutes late. But sure, with the money we’re paying that fucker, five minutes is nothing. He’s bound to wait for us."

"Well, go upstairs so and get dressed so, will ya," said Mrs O’Donoghue, "so we don’t be no later."

"I will so."

He grabbed another slice of toast and gave his wife a wink.

"Do ya think . . . "

He turned around.

"Do ya think I’ll be okay?" she said.

He walked back to his wife and put his hands around her.

"I’m sure of it, love."

He kissed his wife on the forehead.

"I’ll go get ready."

"Okay," said Mrs O’Donoghue, and back she went to her ironing.

"MARY!" shouted Mrs O’Donoghue. "Hurry up in that shower or you’ll be late for school."