I’m really looking forward to the weekend, seeing friends and the like. Not much has happened this week. I’ve been editing lots, getting ready to send stuff out to agents. Other than that no news! Sorry my life has been a little boring. Hope that everyone has had an awesome week and that your weekend will be amazing!
As I said this weeks installment is longer, I didn’t want to break it up too much. Big events and all that!
Patrick took a bite from his sandwich, then sipped some coffee from his mug. His day was as tiring as he expected, it was only lunch and he already just wanted to call it quits and go home. He took another bite from the sandwich. Gloria was equally stressed out, she was supposed to be leaving a bit early today, but it didn’t seem like it would happen. She was planning a surprise birthday party for her son, Charlie. Patrick didn’t know why she wanted it on a weekday, she had explained it to him, but he couldn’t quite remember why. She had been planning it for a few weeks, Charlie was supposed to go to his grandmothers as usual, then Gloria would collect him and bring him home. One of her friends had volunteered to help set it all up and welcome the other kids. Patrick had offered to let her take the day off, but she refused, claiming she could handle it all. Patrick took another bite, hoping if he cut his lunch short they’d all get out of here a little faster. He took another sip of coffee, wondering why she had to make things so complicated, when someone knocked on the door. Shit. Why didn’t Gloria use the intercom to let him know someone was here? He scrambled to get everything away, shoving his sandwich into the drawer along with the chocolate bar, then he brushed himself down, making sure there were no crumbs on his suit. He stood and went to the door, preparing to greet whoever it was. Diane stepped into the room before he could reach the door. “Hi.” “Hey, what are you doing here?” “Well, I figured we could have lunch together.” “I’m swamped today, I’ve someone coming in like twenty minutes” “That’s ok, I brought some food with me in case you couldn’t step out.” She kissed him, then sat at the desk, she placed down her bag and started to unload it. Patrick sat down across from her and retrieved his lunch from the drawer. “Do you want coffee or anything?” “No, I brought some juice. How’s your day going?” “Stressful. Yours?” “Eh, it’s ok. Ariadne’s a bit on edge. I asked her to come along but she refused. I think she wanted some time alone to get her head together. I wasn’t sure about leaving her alone, but she insisted she’d be fine.” “Are you sure she was fine with it?” “Yeah, besides I’ll be back soon enough, I told her I’d be only an hour at most.” As they ate they chatted, occasionally sipping drinks, as they were finishing up, there was a timid knock on the door. “It’s only me.” “Come in.” Gloria stepped inside, she was twisting her hands together, shifting them constantly. “Is everything ok?” “No, my mother is sick and she can’t get Charlie from school, I don’t like him walking by himself. I wouldn’t mind so much if he had someone to walk with, but no one lives close enough. I don’t know what to do, there’s no one I can call, would it be all right if I just popped out to collect him? I can drop him off at my mothers and I won’t be long at all.” “I need you here, is there absolutely no one you can get to do it?” There was a slight pause, then Gloria glanced at Diane. “I could do it if you want?” Patrick smiled, Diane had missed the glance. “Really? Oh that would be amazing, thank you so much.” “It’s no problem, I mean I’ve done it before so I know where everything is.” Gloria rushed over to Diane and hugged her, “You’re a life saver.” “He’s off school at two thirty right?” “Yeah, he is, if you just drop him off at my mother’s that would be amazing, you don’t need to stay or anything. She can look after him, she’s just not up for walking long distances at the moment. She can just park him in front of the TV or something.” “He isn’t going to catch what she has, is he? Because I could bring him to our house, then drop him over to yours for the party.” “Oh, no, really, don’t go to the trouble, she has food poisoning, it isn’t contagious. She thinks it was that new Chinese takeaway down the road.” Patrick glanced at his watch, fuck. It was later than he thought. “Shit, we’ve a client here in a few minutes.” He and Diane stood, they embraced and he kissed her, “you’re a good woman.” “Don’t I know it.” “Once I get home I’ll bring Ariadne to the police, you should probably ring her though, let her know you’ll be late. We don’t want her freaking out or anything.” “Good point. I’ll let her know.” After she left he closed the door gently behind her, wishing they could have gone out for lunch instead of staying in the office. Oh well, they could do something nice at the weekend, maybe go out for dinner. They needed to do something relaxing. It had been a stressful few days. He sighed, hoping it wasn’t becoming a pattern.
Diane parked outside the house Gloria’s mother owned, the school was close by and it seemed to be a shame to drive rather than walk, it was such a nice day out. She had stopped by the house briefly to tell Ariadne what she was doing and to ask if she wanted to come, but again Ariadne had refused. She seemed distracted, but Diane could understand, she had been through a lot. Diane was hesitant about leaving her again, but Ariadne assured her she’d be fine. Diane got out of the car and walked up the path. The garden was immaculately kept and in full bloom, colours exploding from every flower bed. It was just as she remembered it, despite its order there was a messiness to it all, which made Diane think of fairy tales and magic. She walked under an arch of trailing ivy and rang the doorbell. After waiting for a few moments she wondered if she had gone to the right house, the last time she was here was winter and the garden had looked different. She pressed the bell again and waited, feeling slightly worried. After a moment she heard something on the other side of the door, as it swung open, Diane almost stepped back. Irene, Gloria’s mother, looked far older than Diane remembered. Her face was pale and drawn, her eyes dull with dark circles around them, in one claw like hand she clutched a tissue. “Hi, Irene, it’s good to see you again. I’m picking up Charlie today, I just wanted to pop in and say hi first.” Irene smiled and it instantly made her look younger. “Of course, come in, would you like some tea or coffee?” Irene walked from the door, leaving it open and giving Diane no choice in the matter. “Oh, I’m fine thank you.” The house was well kept and the hall was devoid of clutter. Pictures lined the walls, the older ones were closest to the door, the further in she went, the younger they became. The kitchen was large and bright, large windows provided both light and a view of the back garden, it was spectacular. Flowers lined the walls, in the centre was a small fountain, trickling water. A few birds were perched on the edge. Another arch of ivy spanned the path, which led to a shed, designed to look almost like a fairy tale cottage. Irene noticed Diane looking at it, “my son built the shed, before he died.” “It’s very beautiful.” “He was always good with his hands, could make anything from wood.” She smiled sadly. “I’m sorry, I offered you tea, but I don’t remember what you said.” “Oh, I’m fine thank you.” “Well, do you want water or a soft drink?” “Oh, no, I’m ok, thank you.” “What about something to eat?” Remembering why Irene was sick, she again refused. “Well, you need to have something, keep your strength up.” “A glass of water would be plenty.” Diane remember the last time she was here, Irene wouldn’t stop until she had something. Irene went towards the cabinet, then paused and swayed slightly. Diane moved over to her, steadying her. “Sit down, I can get it myself, do you want me to get you anything?” “I was going to make myself a cup of tea.” Diane set the kettle to boil and Irene pointed out where everything was, after a few moments, Diane placed the cup of tea in front of her and sat down. “Is there anything else I can do?” “No, thank you. It should be me asking you that.” “Will you be ok looking after Charlie? If you want I could stick around and help?” “Thank you, but we’ll be fine. I’m over the worst of it, just a little weak. He’s a good boy, we can watch movies or something.”
Diane left Irene’s house and took a moment to locate herself, then she took a left and started walking towards the school, Irene had given her directions and it seemed to be straightforward enough. She walked slowly, taking her time and enjoying the sun. There was a gentle breeze which shook cherry blossom petals from the trees. Diane watched as they swirled and danced, then made a mental note to plant one in their garden. The houses she passed were not extravagantly big, but they were not small. The gardens appeared to be well maintained, though most were paved rather than gardens. On her journey through the suburban maze she didn’t come across another garden that was half as beautiful or enchanting as Irene’s. Many were filled with flowers, but none had the bright extravagance nor the fairy-tale air about them. As she walked, Diane realised that in a few short years she would be doing something like this daily. They still didn’t know the sex of the baby and that was fine with her, she wanted it to be a surprise. She knew that as the due date came closer her desire to know would increase, but she would persevere. They had already decided to paint the baby’s nursery yellow, Ariadne had helped Diane paint a small bit of the room earlier, they had gotten two walls done, Diane wanted it to be a surprise for Patrick and it was a good way to distract them both. As they had painted she tried to imagine the room furnished and full of toys. She’d have to discuss all that with Patrick, but they still had plenty of time left. Though there was still a lot to do, find preschools, primary schools, secondary schools. With all that had to be done the time would pass quickly, she again felt a vague panic building, that there was too much to do. She took a deep breath and calmed herself. She was just being silly. There was still plenty of time.
Diane stood outside the school and occasionally glancing at the groups of mothers chatting to each other. She had no doubt that Irene would be chatting to them, but Diane didn’t know how to approach them, so she remained content with her own thoughts as she waited. “Hi, are you ok?” “Sorry?” Startled from her thoughts, it took Diane a second to reorientate herself. “You just looked a little dazed or something.” “Oh, right, sorry. I was miles away.” The woman smiled and stuck out her hand, “it happens to the best of us. I’m Andrea, Kelly’s mom.” “I’m Diane. I’m here to pick up Charlie for Irene, she’s a little under the weather.” “Oh, that’s a pity, she’s always so nice. Will she be missing the party then?” “I think so, she still seemed weak when I was with her earlier.” “I hope she gets better soon.” Diane felt as though Andrea was trying to get a feel for her, to determine if she was a threat. “Do you have any kids of your own?” “Not yet, but one is on the way.” “Oh congrats! Is it a boy or a girl?” “We don’t know, we decided we want it to be a surprise.” “Oh I did that with Kelly, though truth be told I think part of me knew it was a girl, we hadn’t picked out any boys names at all.” They chatted for a short while longer until the shrill shriek of a bell rang from the school, there was a brief lull which was broken by a wave of children, running, walking, shouting and jostling one another. Diane scanned the faces of the children, looking for Charlie, hoping she would recognise him, it had been a while since she had last seen him and children could change so fast. As she searched she wondered if he would recognise her, if he didn’t he might refuse to go with her. She hoped that should that occur one of the other mothers would offer to walk with them and if the worst happened, she could always ring Gloria and have her tell him over the phone that it was safe. She spotted him faster than she expected, he looked mostly the same, although he had gotten taller. He scanned the row of women and saw her, after a second he went over. “Hi, your mom asked me to walk you home today, your grannie isn’t feeling to great.” “Is she ok?” “She’s fine, just a little tired, so we agreed that I’d walk you home.” She stuck out her hand, then wondered if he was too old for that, he looked at it for a second, then at here. “It’s ok, I don’t need to hold your hand.” He was five if she remembered, but she didn’t want him to tear away from her. She didn’t have too much experience with children, she wasn’t sure if he was still liable to be distracted by something and run for it. She put her hand down again, awkwardly, feeling completely out of her depth.
As they walked, he filled her in on what happened during the school day, Diane tried to keep the names in order but eventually conceded defeat and instead just agreed with him. “Did you learn anything interesting today?” “Yeah, lots.” She waited to hear what he learned, but he again launched into his stories, seemingly unaware she had no idea what he was talking about. He seemed to enjoy the new audience as she didn’t know any background stories, he could expand on everything again. The groups around them had begun to thin out as mothers branched off down different roads. Diane understood why Gloria didn’t want Charlie walking alone, despite it being a residential area, the streets were almost deserted. Most kids weren’t home and those that were would be in the house, people would still be in work. They approached the road and paused for a second, the road was mostly empty, there was a car in the distance, moving steadily towards them. She paused for a second, wondering if she had seen it before, then shook her head. She was getting paranoid. Diane stuck out her hand again, she didn’t know if he’d be willing to hold it. “I’m scared crossing the road by myself. I need someone to help.” He took her hand, then looked both ways carefully. “It’s ok. I used to be scared too. It’s easy. I’ll show you.” He started listing off instructions, Diane smiled.
The car had gotten closer, but it was still moving slowly, Diane looked at it for a second, they’d be able to get across. The engine roared as they stepped onto the road, it was coming at them, much faster than before. Diane sped up slightly, clutching Charlie’s hand. What an asshole, Trying to scare her. She felt a little better as they crossed the dividing line. The car was almost at them now, he was definitely speeding. Charlie seemed oblivious to the car. She glanced back at the car, it had shifted, it was coming at them. She moved faster, the car sped up, she realised he was trying to hit them. She started to move at a jog, looking around wildly for where they could go, something that would stop the car. There was nothing, not even a lamppost. There wasn’t enough time, they wouldn’t get out of the way, it was going to hit them. Adrenaline surged through her system, everything seemed to slow, could she throw Charlie far enough away? No, the car could swerve into him, her heartbeat thudded in her ears, drowning everything out. The car was almost on them. She began to turn, moving her body in front of his, wrapping her arms around him. Fuck. This was going to hurt.
She barely felt the impact of the car as she bounced off the hood, both of them were flung into the air. Diane head connected with the windshield, leaving a smear of blood and a star shaped crack. The groups of people still nearby had turned to watch, someone was screaming. To Diane it seemed like they hung in the air for an eternity, weightless and safe, her hair splayed out in front of her eyes, before she started to plummet back to the ground. Her arms screamed in agony, everything below the waist was numb. She couldn’t feel Charlie against, nor could she see him. She collided with the road with a sickening thud, her body bounced once, then rolled slightly. Her arm was twisted beneath her, her legs splayed at unnatural angles. She couldn’t move. There was noise, so much noise all around, she couldn’t think, couldn’t move. She tried to stay awake as her eyes seemed to close, everything was getting darker, fading.
She needed to stay awake, she needed to stay awake, she needed to stay awake she needed…wake…need. Why? Something…happened…but why was she on the ground?