Relenting to her urges, influenced by the first sisterly visit in two years, she returned to the fridge. Ice cracked into the bottom of the glass, followed by a slice of lemon and a fizzy gush of casero. A steady glug of red wine followed, perhaps a little strong for the time of day. The cool liquid would hopefully lend her brain enough fuzz to dampen her qualms. She felt a little idiotic; surely at 45 she was too old to be seeking approval. As the older sibling she had always provided the answers when Harriet was younger, but now she often felt left behind. Family photos seemed farcical. A series of couples and groups with a gaping hole next to her smiling face where she had envisaged so many others would join her. The wrench of leaving behind so many familiar faces had been softened by the fog of obscurity. It had surprised her the extent of the thrill that a lack of a past had lent her. For the first time in her life she felt somehow mysterious, a strange shore to be discovered. In all honesty these thoughts were usually accompanied by just enough wine to allow her to spend a little longer than usual in front of the mirror. Those were the times she allowed herself an appreciative glance at her prominent cheekbones and ample cleavage, albeit slightly hidden now under softer, folded flesh. It was when she had returned from her cautious preening that her wine was knocked from her hand by the careering child. If she hadn’t been in that particular mood she might not have continued to talk to the man that had received the contents of half her wine glass to the back of his shirt.
A buzz from her phone on the kitchen surface roused her from her reverie. Glancing at the time, she cursed quietly and threw the remainder of her glass down her throat, grabbing her handbag on the way to the door. She paused and scurried back, grabbing a container of mints, popping one in her mouth and pulling the door shut behind her. She didn’t fancy recrimination today. After navigating the perilous track from her urbanisation and clashing with traffic, she realised she had underestimated the time it would take her to get to the bus station. Harriet and her two children wilted in a pool of disappointment under the harsh lights as she rushed breathlessly into the waiting area.
“Sorry, I’m so sorry,” she exhaled,
“Aunty Angie!” both children leapt forward to wind themselves round her neck.
“Well, to be expected really,” Harriet smiled, although it failed to reach her eyes.
The drive back was filled with excited chatter and flailing limbs gesturing towards new landmarks. This was especially animated whenever the turquoise sparkle of the distant sea crept into view.
“Can we go to the beach?” A high-pitched voice enquired,
“Yeah, the beach, can we?” Another chimed in.
“Of course we can, the beaches are gorgeous here” she indulged in a little pride, “in fact, you can’t really go in the day, so we could have a quick visit after dinner, how about that?” She was eager to form shared memories.
“Not today, I’m too tired from travelling,” the voice of authority chimed in.
An arched eyebrow silenced the outburst to a few muttered grumbles.
Getting out of the car involved a flurry of heavy bags, something else and extensive other things. Once the kids were safely absorbed in their Nintendo DS games attention was turned to food. Something about making it and a hint of slight tension.
Once the kids were safely tucked into Angie’s double bed with the fan on and the windows open to let the breeze in, the sisters settled down for a catch up.
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