23 Visiting

Oh, there you are at last, Joanna! I was beginning to think you weren't coming. Happy New Year!”

 

Happy New Year! I told you I'd be here about eleven, Mum, and it's just after that.”

 

And you've brought Tigger home to his Mummy. Let's get you out of that horrid carrier and give you a cuddle. Oh! There he goes, right for the kitchen. I've put his favourite treat out for him.”

 

I've got all his stuff in this bag. Where shall I put it? Oh, and here's your Christmas present.”

 

Put it anywhere. Not there! He'll get into the biscuits if they're on the floor and scatter them everywhere. Give it to me and I'll put everything away. It's not like I'm busy or anything, is it?”

 

I'll do it, Mum.”

 

No, no. You go and sit down in the living room. I'll put the kettle on and make some tea.”

 

I'll have coffee please, Mum.”

 

Here we are! A big pot of tea and home-made cake. Here's your slice. Have you put on weight over Christmas, dear?”

 

Actually, I've lost...”

 

Your sister was looking very slim. But then she always did have a lovely figure. No trouble at all losing her baby weight.”

 

No, no trouble when you can get a surgeon to cut it all away.”

 

And her clothes! For church on Christmas Day she wore a dress that must have cost more than your entire wardrobe.”

 

How were Myles and the twins?”

 

We didn't see much of Myles, I'm afraid. He was negotiating some deal. I don't think he sat down for five minutes together without getting a call on his 'phone, poor man! He does work so hard to provide for his family. And look what they got me – that beautiful television!”

 

Oh, yes. The wall is just big enough for it.”

 

I can't watch it for long, though. It gives me a bit of a headache.”

 

It's giving me a headache while it's turned off.”

 

But it's a smart tv! I can go on the internet on it, stream movies, anything!”

 

Mum, you don't have broadband.”

 

Yes I do. Myles arranged to have it installed. Now I can Skype your sister whenever I want to.”

 

There's a thought – Michelle's face filling the whole wall. And who's paying for the monthly subscription?”

 

Oh, it's almost nothing. Your nieces are growing up so fast. I can't believe they're seven already.”

 

What did they break this time?”

 

Oh, nothing important. Just that plant pot that stood in the corner.”

 

Mum! I spent days decorating that for you.”

 

Really? I'd forgotten you gave it to me. Michelle asked if she should go and pick you up – such a beautiful new Mercedes! – but I told her there was no need. You preferred spending Christmas with strangers.”

 

I was helping at the homeless shelter, Mum. Those people have nothing! We actually had a really nice...”

 

And then I had to tell her that you were working Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. She said it looked as if you didn't want to see your own family.”

 

I'm here, aren't I?”

 

But your sister left a week ago.”

 

I know, Mum, but I have to work. I don't have a Myles to pay for me.”

 

You could have. What about that nice friend of his they set you up with?”

 

The one that drugged my drink and tried to rape me?”

 

Oh, how you exaggerate. But why didn't you bring poor Tigger home earlier?”

 

If you didn't let Michelle bring her yappy little mutts, I wouldn't have to take him at all. But I explained I was busy this week. We were doing 'Twelfth Night' at the church hall.”

 

But you weren't in it. Why did you have to be there?”

 

Because I'm the director! I explained all this a fortnight ago when I picked Tigger up.”

 

Oh, don't shout, dear. Have another slice of cake. You can start your diet tomorrow.”

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