After an evening of pain Ellie finally slept. Steph sat in the chair in her bedroom and watched her sleep for awhile. Ellie clutched tightly to Tigra, a grey dishcloth thing that had once been a white fluffy tiger. These days Tigra resembled an ageing woman with his scrawny neck and all his stuffing concentrated in his bottom. It was hot and the room had begun to smell of sleeping teenager, so Steph opened the window and breathed in the blossom scented night air. “Night, Ellie,” she whispered and left the room, closing the door gently behind her.
Next she entered the room with the Never Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle sign on it. Luke lay on the bed, stark naked and spread eagled. He’d never got the hang of wearing pyjamas to bed. His cuddly, Little Lion-oh lay on his chest in a similar spread-eagled position. Steph opened his window a little and covered him up. She gave his forehead a kiss. “Night, Luke.”
The next room had Always Kiss Me Goodnight on it. These days Jake was embarrassed by it but she refused to let him take it down and still insisted upon always kissing him goodnight. His meditation CD was playing. He was still awake although he was pretending to be fast asleep. A loud and very fake snore gave him away. Normally she just went away but today she went and sat on the bed. “You OK, Kid?”
“Yeah.” It was a grunt intended to put her off and send her on her way.
“You know that it wasn’t your fault don’t you? It was an accident and she was trying to kick you.”
She grinned and reached over to ruffle his hair. It didn’t feel like enough so she scooped him up in her arms and gave him a big sloppy kiss which extended into several big sloppy kisses. He pushed her off. “Eww yick, Mum, that should be illegal.” The tone of his voice suggested he’d actually needed it.
His room was also a little niffy so she opened his window.
“Night, Jake.” Once more she kissed him then set about straightening his room. Before she left she picked up the clothes from the floor and the mouldering dishes for the kitchen. The clothes she dumped in the linen bin and the dishes she took down to the kitchen.
Most nights she would have left the mess for the morning but the alternative was going into the living room where Nick was. She wasn’t face him or her yet. By the time she had finished the room smelled of lemon and the sink sparkled, the work tops shone and the floor gleamed. It was time for supper. She put two bananas, a pack of oatcakes and two glasses of wine on the tray. Even if Nick didn’t need it she did. All day she’d dreamt about a whisky but now she needed to be easy to arouse in case Ellie needed her.
In the living room Nick sat at the computer shouting, laughing and chatting with strangers from around the world. She wasn’t sure if he was fighting with them or against them. Mech Warriors wasn’t her style of game. Steph stared at Nick for a bit and it was like looking at a stranger. She didn’t know how to act so she decided to act normally and wait for him to say something. She placed his wine and supper down in front of him and kissed his cheek.
He gave her a smile. “Thanks, love.”
Steph retreated to the sofa with her supper and the remote. It took a good few minutes of flicking through the channels to even decide what she was in the mood for. In the end she settled for a cooking, reality TV kind of thing which she could ignore and maybe think.
Sweet banana and nutty oatcake was a supper she’d grown used to since going on her fibromyalgia diet. Only time would tell if she was really better because of it or if it had been a cruel coincidence and a remission had happened just as she’d started on it. The wine didn’t last long enough. She was so exhausted that the fibrofog made thinking impossible, so she muted the TV. It pissed her off that yet again in their marriage Nick expected her to take the lead. This was his body and it wasn’t something she wanted. “So then?”
He had the temerity to look befuddled. “So then what?”
“When do I get to meet her?”
“Who?” His focus had yet to shift from the game he was playing.
The casual nature of his response had her worried. What if she’d dreamt it this morning? Maybe it hadn’t happened. But she’d told so many people. Crap! And the kids. “The other woman.”
“What other woman?”
By now she was in a minor panic as he genuinely seemed confused. However he was still mostly focused on Mech Warriors. “This morning. You did say you wanted to be a woman?”
“Oh yes. I did.”
Thank goodness for that! “Right. So when do I get to meet this woman?”
For the first time he turned from the screen and stroked his beard. It was nerves that made him do that every time. “You want to meet her now?”
"Best Possible Taste" is very loosely based on real life events.