Steph sat in the park. The children played and for the first time that day she was alone to think. She drained the last of the lemon drink and held the bottle out so the wind could blow over the top, replicating the sound of pan pipes; it contrasted sharply with the silent piper, a statue of a man playing the bag pipes. The beauty of the moment carried her mind into another place and she worked on a poem with a symphony of spring flowers and a rustle of the trees. The nearby road brought in a little heavy metal.
She shook her head in an attempt to pull herself back into her daily life and the fact Nick wanted to be a woman.
A Jack Russell yipped. Its owner threw a yellow frisbee in the air. It was blown off course. Could it be a gold disk? The dog was really getting its teeth into it. The wind played her bottle again.
“Bugger,” she said to herself and tucked the bottle away in her Mary Poppins bag.
“Muuuuuuuuuuuum!” a scream from the swings.
Ellie and Jake had been fighting so she ignored it.
“Muuuuuuuuuuuuum!” both of them screamed this time and there was a hint of panic. The fact Ellie and Jake were singing in harmony did not bode well.
She forgot all about her and Nick and raced over with her heart beating, but not yet completely stressed out.
“Mum, I think I’ve broken my leg.” Ellie’s tears were real and she was clinging to the swing. “I think I’ve broken my leg.” She slid from the swing and doubled up (everything except the leg) on the floor. “I’ve broken my leg.”
Jake was in tears. “I’m so sorry. Did I do it?”
Steph took the breaths she needed to remain calm and helped Ellie to her feet. With a lot of hopping, wincing and grunting they made it to the bench. What were they going to do? She didn’t have the car and the walk home would be impossible. “Phone?”
From her jeans pocket, Ellie took out her phone and did the pattern pin code. Even at a time like this she wasn’t going to share it with anyone. She handed it to Steph.
“Nick where the hell are you?” Steph shouted into the phone that was still only ringing. He picked up. “We need you to come and get us. Ellie’s hurt her leg.”
He was being bloody awkward. Bloody awkward. Well OK he took a breath in and said he would see what he could do.
“Your daughter’s in pain. She needs to go to A&E. I can’t get her anywhere and you’re quicker than an ambulance.” Looking round she wondered what to do. Her bag contained plasters, painkillers and alcohol wipes. The Mary Poppins bag had let her down there was no bandage. Steph handed Ellie a bottle of water and some paracetamol. “Wait here.” She grabbed her purse and ran across the park. It was in a panic, worried about the three children she’d left behind, that she bought the bandage and dashed back.
Nick was there.
Any thought of Nicola was gone. She handed him the bandage. He was better at those kind of things. In a much quicker time than Steph could have managed Ellie was bandaged.
“I’ll go get the car,” he said.
And now Steph felt guilty because she was relieved the man in her life was here. It was a sense of safety. A sense of safety she wasn’t sure she could feel with another woman. But that other woman was Nick. Nicola would still be able to drive and bandage the kids. Great and now I’m thinking of Nicola and not Ellie. She felt even more guilty and sat down next to her daughter. “How did it happen?”
“I kicked Jake whilst I was on the swing – he was in the way.” She indicated her brother. “And he’s not even hurt.”
Nick drove the car over the grass. Together, Nick and Steph did a hospital carry and got Ellie into the car. The boys kind of tagged along and sorted themselves out, Luke appeared stunned and Jake was still crying about it all being his fault. On the drive to hospital the car was quiet except for crying but Steph was too numb to think.
"Best Possible Taste" is very loosely based on real life events.