Saturday 14th April 2012
A day’s toing and froing
“KISS me, Mummy. I’m hurting.”
Jenny kissed her daughter’s cheek and softly stroked her skull, trying not to let Emily hear the tremble in her throat, the weeping in her heart.
“It will stop hurting soon, my darling one. Remember what the nurse said. Only a few more moments.”
“Is Tom here?”
“Got somethi… to show… Tom? Tommy?”
Jenny beckoned him closer. He leaned across his mother’s body, their three faces touching.
“Here, Em. I’m here. What is it?”
She opened her eyes for a moment, stuck her tongue out at him, chuckled, and went back to sleep… allowing Jenny time for another cigarette and Tom the chance to order refreshment from the kitchen.
Four times that day calls to Tom’s mobile phone summoned us to Emily’s bedside: from the cliff-top, the beach, and twice from the cottage, where we had said farewell to Ursula – departing to attend to the livestock back on her farm – and later met one of Arthur’s associates, who arrived in a bright yellow cage, so low to the ground surely only children could ride in it.
“Zoe Green, chair of the committee for the advancement of Rhetan fellowship. Delighted to meet you, Virgulle. And you must be Tom. Hello.”
The name ‘chair’ suited the short stature, dark clothing and neat haircut, none of which would have endeared her to Tom. He muttered a brief reply and left the room.
“Ah… hello,” Arthur emerged from the kitchen, bearing a tray. “I was just fixing Zoe a coffee. Can I get you anything?”
“No thank you.”
“Arthur and I,” the woman smiled, “would like a word about our press release. I know you agreed not to speak to the Me Dear before the meeting, but we at the support group think it would be wise to issue a statement afterwards. I’ve written a draft if you’d li…”
I glared at Arthur.
“Ah… yes, well… Zoe’s much more experienced in these things than I am, and…”
Impolite thought it was, I chose not to listen to what else he had to say, but immediately walked back out into the evening air.