(Another extract from my novel (fiction) this is from a few chapters in)
A lamb as dry as pork
The sun did come out, unexpected like on a cold November day. High and bright in the sky causing the frost on the ground to glisten. A cloud moved and there it was. Just like that, the darkness lifted from my mind. I knew it would. It was a few days after Lou had lectured me about mopping around, she walks into the kitchen the smell of camembert cheese and a fresh baguette. I’ve covered the table with grapes, celery, breadsticks and cured meats. A bottle of Rioja unopened waiting for her arrival.
‘Cheese and wine night’ I sing. She still has her summer coat on.
‘Wow Mum, what’s all this?’ You look good’ I’d was dressed in jeans and a cream silk vest. My hair tied up, showing off the earrings Lou had brought me for my last birthday. She could see I’d made an effort.
‘Thanks. I am good, I’m feeling better. Now smelly cheese will be ready in 5 minutes.’ I sip a glass of water, gesturing for her to sit.
‘Err Mum Jess is on her way. Aunty M has another headache so is in bed and Uncle A has gone out, again. Can she join us?’ Lou unbuttons her light coat; the room is warm with the oven on high and the june evening sun. I open the back door to allow some air in.
‘Yea! the girls. Of course, she can, the more the merrier. Where’s Alex gone?’
‘Don’t know. Jess says he’s always out at the moment. He often works late or has boring conferences to go to.’ She pulls a silly face on the boring. Making me giggle.
Yes I’m ok. I cut another piece of rosemary off from the plant on the windowsill. Rubbing the leaves on my fingers before smelling the wild musty smell. I stab the stalk into another Camembert, the slightly sweaty smell escaping despite the rosemary.
‘Better throw in another one of these bad-boys if it’s full-on girly-night.’ Smiling, as my house is filled with good smells and the sounds of my daughter moving around.
It didn’t take long for a black cloud to reappear threatening to spoil the sunshine in the kitchen. A dark storm moving quickly over the horizon. I’d poured another glass of wine for myself and the girls, the camembert almost eaten. Jess is chatty, her confidence helped by the wine. She is still childlike compared to Lou. I often watch as Lou guides Jess through life, holding her hand pushing her into situations. Lou seems to always be guiding someone, mostly me.
‘Have you looked at Brighton, they do a really good art and design degree?’ Jess stuffs another piece of salami into her mouth followed by a few grapes. ‘Imagine if we got a place at the same uni, it would be sooo good.’ As she speaks I can see the half chewed grape on the tongue. Lou flashes a look across the table smiling brightly at me. She is trying to reassure me.
‘Jess do you want anything else to eat?’ Lou has such tact. She stretches over the table thrusting the cheese board towards her cousin. Jess grabs another bunch of grapes, her hand slightly clumsy.
‘What do you think Aunty Viv, you could visit us on the beach? ‘Jess does a hula dance on her chair. I take a large drink form my glass before filling it up again.
‘I’ve never been to Brighton. But I think it’s quite far away.’ I hold my voice steady, pushing my plate of salmi and camembert away from me, I’ve lost my appetite.
Jess is still hula dancing, arms pushing air on one side then the other. Her eyes meet Lou’s who is silently urging her to be quiet, Jess’s arms drop mid hula. My daughter protecting me from the inevitable.
My future, an empty kitchen an empty house. Jess oblivious only a few moments earlier to my feelings now seems to have remembered. It has been an on-going source of concern for the family as to how I will cope with my empty nest, as Phil calls it. I don’t want it, I don’t want to come home to a quite house, a fridge half empty with no one to cook for, no one to sip hot chocolates with late at night. No one to make biscuits or cakes for, no large roast dinners on Sundays. I want them all back here. Andrew, Lou and Phil my family.
‘Well look where ever we go it won’t be as far away as Andrew.’ Jess’s attempt at making the situation seem brighter.
I let out a loud snort, startling both the girls. She’s right.
‘Well, no Jess that’s true you can’t really get much further away than Edinburgh. It’s a bloody long way away.’ I sip more wine.
‘Mum, I won’t go that far, I’ll still need you to do my washing and hopefully cook a few dinners for me.’ There she is again, holding my hand.
I drink my wine quickly, aware that Lou’s eyes are on me.
‘Any way, time for a quick dip?’ I tilt my head back laughing it has been a while since I’ve played with my new toy. And I am now very much in need of a play especially while I still have my daughter and niece to play with.