Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
The next morning loomed and Mr Humphrys dissected another politician on the Today programme. While my consciousness rose and I began to listen to what he was saying, I became aware of a warm spot in my back. No, I hadn’t wet myself, I had company again.
“I’m not actually lonely, you know,” I said to a smirking Trish.
“No, but I was.”
“How can you be lonely? That room is like girl’s dorm.”
“What’s a dorm, Mummy?”
“It’s short for dormitory, a place for sleeping—usually for several people to sleep. The dor bit is from the same root as in dormouse, because people saw them in torpor or hibernating, they seemed asleep.”
“Sleeping is the same as hibernating?” Trish looked bemused, I keep forgetting she’s only seven.
“No, in hibernation the body winds its metabolism down, so breathing slows, heartbeat slows and so on. The animal has usually found somewhere that’s warmish and dry and they make a nest and curl up and wait for warmer weather in the late spring.
“I should hate to hibernate.” Trish cuddled up to me, “Unless you were there too, Mummy.”
“Polar bears do it with their cubs and I think other bears do as well.”
“Hibernate with their cubs.”
“You know everything, don’t you, Mummy?”
“No and I’m glad I don’t.”
“I thought you’d like that?”
“No, life is a continuous learning experience. Even when we die we learn something.”
“I don’t like talking about dying, Mummy.”
“Okay, let’s get some breakfast and wake up your sleepy siblings,” which is what we more or less did. There was the usual spat over the jam between Livvie and Mima, and Danny grabbed the last piece of toast which had Trish growling at him.
I only ever experienced sibling rivalry when I stayed with friends. In our house, there was always enough food at meal times, although I don’t recall eating that much—in fact, my dad used to get cross with me for eating so daintily. “You eat like a bloody girl,” he used to say before stuffing a huge lump of food in his mouth.
My mother used to defend me, “Leave him alone, just because he doesn’t shovel his food down like a demented miner, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
“But he’s like a bloody nancy,” my father would grumble, spitting small bits of food as he did so.
“Derek, you’re supposed to be setting him an example, so please don’t talk with your mouth full! It isn’t a particularly pleasant sight.”
I’d smirk, contented that my role model was my mum, and he’d get red in the face and bang his hand on the table, making us both jump and gasp. “Don’t you laugh at me, boy,” he’d growl and spit more food on the table.
Upon reflection, we none of us knew how much things would change in the next ten or fifteen years. They’d both be dead and I’d be a mother to so many needy children, as well as the wife of an aristocrat.
I often wished my mother was still alive and able to guide me in things maternal. I’d have loved for her to have helped me plan my wedding, and for my dad to have given me away—but it wasn’t going to happen, and without Tom’s support and advice I’d still be hiding in that bedsit like a retarded caterpillar, unaware that pupation and emergence as an imago was possible. Who’d have given odds on the chances that I’d meet some homicidal nurse in a thunderstorm, and who’d be the one to literally knock me out of my comfort zone and out of the closet in one hit.
If I was religious, I could see all sorts of lovely coincidences that it was all meant to happen, which would imply that God had made me gender confused. In which case it would be proof positive that he was a sadist—no one should have to undergo such torments when young. I’m only glad that I could help spare my children some of those same anxieties.
But of course, everything happens for a purpose—what a load of cobblers—only insofar as cause and effect. Beyond that, it’s pure serendipity. Yeah things happen, but only within the laws of physics.
Back to the breakfast table and the chimps tea party taking place there at. Trish had now got involved and she and Billie were squabbling about a book. I could have done what my dad did and bang the table, instead I withdrew and no one noticed for several minutes.
My mobile rang and I could see it was Henry. My tummy did a somersault. “Hello, Henry, how are you?” I bluffed.
“Is Simon about?”
“Um—no, he’s not here at the moment.”
“Typical of my idiot offspring.”
“Henry, that’s a bit unfair—you are so judgmental at times.”
“Funny that when I am, you, always come out top of the class. Cathy, you’re a wonderful benchmark, but sadly my own children will always fall so short of your exemplary style.”
“Henry, please—they do their best and you should acknowledge them for it.”
“I do by recognising their stupidity.”
“It was Simon’s idea to set up High Street Banks.”
“He told you that I suppose? He didn’t also tell you that I was thinking about it before he was even conceived, did he?”
“It was a short conversation, and some while ago.”
“I’ll bet it was short. I will admit that he suggested we take over the bank chain which we did eventually buy out, but only because he saw an article suggesting they were in difficulties.”
“So, he does his homework,” I defended his arse at all costs.
“Sometimes—but whether it was an act of God or meaningful coincidence, I wouldn’t like to say. Perhaps you could ask him to present himself to the investigations committee on Friday morning at the headquarters.”
“I’ll tell him.”
“Thank you, Cathy. How are the children?”
“Fine, thank you, Henry.”
“Let me know what they’d like for Christmas.”
“I will, I know what I’d like.”
“What’s that, m’dear?”
“For you to believe he was innocent of the accusations against him.”
“I’d like that too.” He rang off and I sent a text to Simon.
I received a reply a few hours later. He called me.
“What’s going on?” he asked as I answered the phone.
“Your disciplinary committee is meeting, you’d better get back over here and quickly.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll book a flight—we’re on the verge of busting this case. Tthe auditor’s evidence will hang draw and quarter ’em.”
“He’s getting the car.”
“Where are you?”
“Across the road from the auditor’s offices.” I heard a loud background noise and the signal stopped.
I waited and nothing happened. I kept trying to call him back, but disconnected was all I could get. I began to get frantic. What on earth had happened?
An hour or so later, James called. “Hi, Cathy, can’t stop—Simon’s okay, if a bit shaken.”
“Some nice person bombed the auditor’s office—killed twenty five people.”
“You’ve got to get away from there,” I exhorted.
“Just changed our flight times, we leave tonight.”
“Oh God, look after him, James.”
“I will, although it could be tougher than I first thought.”
I checked on the internet and there was news of an explosion in Kansas City in an accountant’s office, thought to be caused by a faulty gas main. I didn’t care, I wanted Simon home as soon as possible.
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