Things are strained between Georgia and her husband Nicolas (Nico) and she is trying to hold things together for the three children. She suspects something is going on...she has driven past the cafe to find it closed when her husband says he's at work...Thank you for your feedback :)
‘Hi. I’m home. What’s for dinner?’ Nicolas called from the hallway.
‘Hi. I’ve made makaronia tou fournou and salad. The boys have eaten. Andoni ate all the macaroni and the mincemeat but scraped off all the cheese sauce. The other two loved it, even the grated halloumi over the top. Shall I warm it up for you? How was your day?’
‘Yeah good.’ He didn’t ask how hers had been.
‘What happened last night?’
‘There was no booking for the pitch after so we played on and had another game. Sorry.’
‘Oh, right. You could’ve let me know. Nicolas didn’t respond. He walked over to the kitchen sink and washed his hands. Georgia took out the plate of food warming in the oven for him.
‘You’re home late. Were you busy?’ she asked conscious of her heart banging in her chest.
‘Not really, but we had a last minute rush. Five guys working on the roadworks came in at about half three. They all had the kleftiko so it was a bonus, an extra sixty quid or so. They loved the lamb and potatoes.’
‘I told them I would get bacon sarnies ready for them in the morning so they’ll be in tomorrow at half six.’
‘I tried to call you,’ Georgia said.
‘Did you? My phone’s dead. Stupid thing. Needs a new battery I reckon.’
Georgia looked at him, but said nothing even though her heart was constricting in her chest. Why was he lying?
A week later Georgia was rushing around to get dinner ready before Nicolas got in. She just made it in time for the boys because she had worked an extra hour and didn’t want to tell him as she knew how annoyed he would get. As a result she hadn’t had time to prepare the meal she had pre-planned before picking up the boys. Nicolas walked in just as she put the grill on for the salmon.
‘Before you say anything I got held up at the boys’ school,’ she said, ‘Mr Jones, was going on about support for the school fete next month and a couple of the other mums got involved in the conversation. They wouldn’t stop talking. Then the boys disappeared onto the field and I had to yell at them to come off. Time just went. Sorry but dinner won’t be ready for another half hour or so.’ She knew she was rambling but couldn’t stop herself.
‘Half an hour? You really are something! You can’t even get dinner ready on time but I bet you can run around after your boss and make him a cup of coffee or get his typing done on time.’
‘Look I said I’m sorry. Get cleaned up and it will be ready. Go and see the boys for a bit. They’re outside doing that puzzle your mum got them for Christmas. It’s surprisingly nice out there for April.’
‘I need to go out.’
‘How long will you be?’
‘As long as it takes!’ Nicolas grabbed his leather bomber jacket from the back of the kitchen chair, threw it over his shoulder. He turned his back on her as she followed him out into the hallway. Not wanting him to see the tears that had welled up in her eyes she returned to the kitchen. Georgia knew he’d yell at her for being too sensitive. But he didn’t notice her tears. He didn’t even look back or say good bye. She heard the front door slam and then the porch door closing behind him with a sharp click. She listened to the revving of the car and then the screech as he reversed off the drive, scraping the underside of the front bumper on the steep drop kerb.
She broke down and cried muffling her sobs with the tea towel she was holding so as not to alert the boys who, having heard their father’s voice, had come in from the garden.
‘Where’s dad?’ asked Zach.
‘He won’t be long, honey. He’s had to go back to the café for a bit.’
‘Why?’ asked Andoni.
‘He forgot to take out some meat from the freezer. Now go and get cleaned up. Andoni help your brothers. Dinner is nearly ready.’
‘I’m sitting next to mum today,’ yelled Zach.
‘No you’re not. It’s my turn. Mum tell him…’ whined Kristiano.
‘Enough arguing, you can sit either side of me. There. Both near me. Now eat!’
The boys piled food onto their plates spilling grains of rice across the table. Andoni used his fingers to pick out the broccoli pieces and baby corn he wanted from the earthenware bowl. Any other time she would have admonished him but she didn’t. She sat there looking from one to the other and she couldn’t help thinking that their dad didn’t want to be a part of this anymore. Something or someone was taking him away from them, from her.
‘I wanted that bit,’ said Zach.
‘Well tough. I got it first and I’m the oldest,’ Andoni said pulling one of his mean faces.
‘Bully!’ shouted Zach trying to stab the broccoli with his fork and getting his hand slapped by his older brother.
‘Bully! Bully! Bully! And Big Fat Pig!’
‘Boys! Enough. Just eat your dinner. There’s enough for us all. Think of the poor children starving in Africa.’ The two older boys rolled their eyes and sniggered.
‘They don’t eat salmon and broccoli in Africa.’
‘But they do eat rice. So be thoughtful please and don’t behave like piggies,’Georgia said.
‘Well it was him. Not me.’
For a brief moment Georgia imagined herself as a single parent. This is what it would be like. On her own. She shook the almost unbearable feeling away, a cold shiver replaced it.
‘Enough bickering and complaining. After dinner it’s homework and bed. Early! Zach has to be at school by quarter to eight tomorrow morning. You’re going on that trip to Cadbury’s World aren’t you my honey?’
‘Tomorrow? Wow! Yippee! I’m going to buy chocolate buttons and not get any for you,’ he announced to Andoni, his mouth full of sticky gluteny rice.
‘I want choc-o-late bu-tt-ons,’ squealed Kristiano, his hands all sticky from the orange squash he’d spilt onto the table and which he was now patting his hands into with a dull thud.
Georgia sat with her legs tucked under her in the sitting room, looking through a couple of mini photograph albums. She flicked through bright happy photos of them in Cyprus, she could feel the light yellow sand of Limassol warm between her toes. Smiling faces stared back at her. The boys’ mouths and chins were sticky with ice cream and their cheeks bright red from the scorching sun. Nicolas’s face was bright, his smile wide, his soft wavy hair longer back then flopping over his eyes. There was a picture of Nicolas pulling her into a hug. She remembered Andoni taking the photo; her long hair blowing across her face as the breeze came off the sea. Happy days. Life seemed so much less complicated back then.