This is a continuation of The Missing Baby
Clarissa watched the clock as if it was her enemy. Almost 10am and Scott still wasn’t up. She’d already hung out a load of washing, cleaned the kitchen and was on her second cup of coffee. She should have gone for a run, but she just couldn’t be bothered this morning. The wine from last night lingered in her sinuses and her limbs had the kind of dead weight that defies moving in a hurry.
She was half regretting telling Ashley she’d have the barbecue at her place. She knew it was her sister’s birthday, but all she wanted to do was crawl back into bed for the day. Lie on the sofa and watch DVDs. Read the latest Patricia Cornwell book. All these options sounded good. But what she had to do – cater for thirty guests and tell her husband she had a promotion – that, she didn’t want to do at all.
Clarissa checked the clock again. No change. She went to take another sip of her coffee, then changed her mind. Hyping herself up on caffeine wasn’t going to help. If only Scott would get up and she could tell him about the job. The knowledge of it and her anticipation of what he was going to say were killing her. She’d been telling herself all morning he’d be happy for her. Proud of her, even. But in her heart she knew he wouldn’t be. She kept imagining the screaming and the slammed doors and then him disappearing off for the night, only to come home drunk and unapologetic the next day.
Rationally, Clarissa knew she shouldn’t even tell Scott until after the party, but she just couldn’t hold onto the worry for another night. She had to say it. Confront the situation head on. Take the consequences.
The doorbell caught her by surprise. She glanced at the clock again. 10.02am. Who would be coming over now?
Her sister, Ashley stood on the doorstep. She wore skinny jeans and a flimsy cotton camisole. A thin piece of leather was wound around her neck, and an oversized tote bag clutched to her chest. She looked hippie stylish and not happy.
“Hello, I wasn’t expecting you this early.”
“You didn’t invite mum to the barbecue.” Ashley accused.
Clarissa groaned. “Come on Ash, you honestly didn’t think I would, did you?”
“Gee, I don’t know.” Ashley said, throwing her arms in the air, the tote bag swinging around wildly . “She is our MOTHER and it’s my birthday, so I kinda thought you might.”
Clarissa opened the door wider and moved to one side. “You better come in. But no yelling; Scott’s sleeping.”
“Fuck Scott.” Ashley scowled, pushing her aviator shades up on top of her head. “Anyway, I’m getting a cut and colour at ten.” She touched her strawberry blond hair self-consciously.
“It’s after ten now,” Clarissa pointed out.
“They can wait.” Ashley looked away and then down at her feet, before muttering, “I want you to ring and invite mum.”
Clarissa stepped out onto the patio to stand beside her sister. “Pardon, I think your kneecaps are the only ones who can hear you.”
Ashley looked at her scathingly. “You heard me. Call mum and tell her about the barbecue.”
Clarissa didn’t say anything for a moment. The last thing she wanted was to get into a fight with Ashley. But somehow, that’s what Eliza always did. Their mother caused fights and upsets wherever she went.
Finally Clarissa said, “How will she get here? How will she get home?”
Ashley shrugged. “We can work something out.”
Clarissa raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to not drink and play taxi on your birthday? Because I’m not ferrying her to and from Beecroft.”
Ashley shook her head and looked down at her feet again. “You’re such a bitch sometimes.”
“Yeah, well, I learned from the best.” Clarissa reached out to pull her sister into her arms. She felt resistant at first, then folded a little and hugged Clarissa back.
“Can’t you do this for me?” She pulled away and went back to clutching the bag to her chest, it’s mass covering her thin body, making her look like a child who’d raided mummy’s closet. “She’s been sober for over a year now. It’s going to stick this time, Lissa.”
Clarissa nodded, saying nothing, her eyes somber.
“You don’t care, do you?”
“It’s not that. I just can’t …” Clarissa didn’t know how to finish the sentence. She didn’t know how she felt about her mother. She just knew it was easier since she’d stopped seeing her.
“I’ll invite her if you want me to,” she said softly.
Ashley stepped back and slid her sunglasses back into place, but not before Clarissa saw the pain flash into her eyes.
“Never mind. It’s your house, you don’t have to. I’ll see her on my own time.” She turned and walked down the steps, striding to the gate without looking back. “I’ve got to go. See you this afternoon.”
“Don’t leave upset,” Clarissa called after her. But Ashley just put her hand up in a wave and kept walking, her head down.
Eliza had struck again. That woman could ruin anything, Clarissa thought. Even when she wasn’t invited she found a way to ruin things. Her heart heavy, Clarissa walked inside and closed the door. It was time to speak to Scott. This day was off to a bad start and she had to get things back under control. Scott was waking up now, whether he liked it or not.
This story continues with I Like A Bit of Phone Sex in the Morning
Photo by gotplaid?