It’s Bank Holiday Monday here today and we’ve spent a lovely time catching up with family over in Cambridge. The sun shone down from a sparkling blue sky and it was shorts all round for the first time this year.
I love going to my father-in-law’s when all the family gathers. There are eyes aplenty to watch the children, who love to play with their smashing big cousin, and I get to catch up and natter with some grown-ups for a change. Good food, fine wine, great company and plenty of time to sit and read my on my iPad: I feel like I’ve had a holiday.
I intended to write my post while the kids were happily entertained, because I knew I’d be too tired when we got home. Unfortunately I downloaded the second in The Divide Trilogy – Back to the Divide – this morning and was too easily distracted from working by following Felix and Betony’s adventures again. I fear the cost of buying the iPad might be only the beginning of the expense!
I came across an interesting dilemma today when one of the books I wanted was only a pound cheaper for the kindle than for a paper copy. My heart still belongs to the paper book, but there’s no doubt it is much easier to read on the iPad with the children around (I can cuddle two children and sit, iPad on my knee, with just a wriggle needed to swipe the page over. Genius. If only I’d had one for all those boring months of breastfeeding at 2am!)
Still, an ebook is horribly intangible and I love to have a pretty row of paperbacks on the shelves reminding me of all the great stories recently read. Maybe I’ll just bookmark that one for future reading: there are plenty on my list!
As an aside, Two-Hundred Steps Home reached the 100,000 word mark with today’s post. If it ever becomes a novel it will need editing by half, but it still feels like a nice achievement.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
The road stretched relentlessly ahead of Claire, solid with Sunday evening traffic. To either side, fields as flat as glass met a distant horizon, with flocks of clouds filling the space in between. She tried not to let the lines of red lights make her impatient. There was one road home and the only thing to be gained by chaffing at the traffic was anger that had nowhere to go.
Sky slumped in the passenger seat, sleeping after her long day on the sunny beach. A tiny smile illuminated her face, giving her the look of a cherub. You sleep my little angel. Enjoy your happy dreams while you can.
A sharp sound rang through the silence of the car. Claire looked at the phone on the dash and mused whether to answer it. With a quick glance in the mirrors to make sure there were no blue sirens or panda cars around, Claire reached for the phone and raised it to her ear.
“Hello, yes? I’m driving.”
“So you are coming back then? Your father said you’d be home by now.”
Claire bit back an angry retort. Challenging her mother at any time was an exercise in futility and for once she had reason enough to be curt, with her daughter in hospital.
“Sorry, Mum, I’m not the only person heading back from the coast. The traffic has been horrendous. We won’t be much longer. Sky’s asleep.” She hesitated, afraid to ask her next question. Gripping the wheel with her free hand, she inhaled, her nostrils filling with the scent of sand and sun cream. “How is Ruth?”
“Not good.” Her mother fell silent and Claire wondered if she wanted to know any more. She was about to hang up when her mother drew an audible breath and let it out in a long sigh. When she spoke again her voice was low, and gentler than Claire could ever remember hearing it.
“Oh, Claire, the doctors think the tumour must have spread before they caught it. They say the chemo will help, but they’re fighting the wrong battle. They need to understand how far it has spread and adjust her treatment.”
The words rang through Claire’s mind without making sense. Her mother sounded tired, beaten, but her words suggested hope. She wanted to ask more, but driving one handed in heavy traffic on the A47 was not the time.
“I’m sure she’ll be fine, Mum. Ruth’s a fighter and she’s in safe hands.”
There was silence, and Claire wondered if her Mother was drawing breath for a new sarcastic come back. When she did speak, her words were so unexpected Claire nearly drove into the tail-lights of the car in front.
“You’re the fighter, Claire. You’re the one who has gone out and taken on the world. Ruth, well, she’s not strong like you.”
Heat rushed to Claire’s face at the unexpected compliment. It rattled her more than her mother’s unaccustomed gentleness, more than Ruth’s illness. She felt wrong-footed by it, as if it was easier to know that her mother loathed her than to believe she really cared.
As if needing to restore the balance, Claire heard her mother cluck her tongue. “Goodness, look at the time. Are you going to be much longer? I need you to take over at the hospital so I can go home and feed your father. You know he’s incapable of boiling an egg for his supper.”
“What about Sky? I’m not taking her to see Ruth tonight. She’s exhausted and needs to be in bed.” She heard her mother chuckle and wondered what could possibly be funny.
“Listen to you. Thought you didn’t have a maternal bone in your body. I’ll take her back with me, we can tuck her up in her bed. I’ll bring her in with me in the morning.”
It took a moment for Claire to realise the implication of her words. So I’m spending the night at the hospital am I? I guess it makes a change from a hostel bed. Stifling a yawn, Claire focused on the sleeping face beside her, reminding her of what was important.
“Okay, Mum, see you soon.”