“Oh, I’ve always smoked a lot of weed. I don’t find that it affects me at all,” the girl says. We’re sitting at a wooden table in The Stables restaurant of the local country club. The ceiling is beamed. Looking around, this is so weird, I think. Next to the girl is her mother on one side, and on her other side is my Dad. This twenty four year old pot smoker is my Dad’s new girlfriend.
No-one says anything for a minute.
“Would you like some more wine, darling,” Dad says, touching the girl’s arm.
“I want to go home,” I say to Mum, who is sitting next to me. “Why do we have to be here?”
“Your father wanted us to meet Ella,” Mum says.
“So, what do you do again, Ella?” I say, fixing her with my gaze. She’s slim, pretty, tanned with a blonde bob.
“Oh, well, I’m just doing the Christie’s course at the moment,” she says. “Ought to lead to a job there after I graduate. And we’re going away over the summer, aren’t we darling,” she says to my Dad. My Dad. Putting her scrawny hand on top of his. I feel sick.
Dad seems oblivious to the awkwardness of the situation. And what does Ella’s mother think of all this, I wonder, of her ghastly daughter dating a man fifty years older than her. Dad is old enough to be her grandfather, I realise.
The meal comes to an end. Dad, Ella and her Mum wander off. Walking with Mum through the hotel, we arrive at our room.
“I want to go home,” I say to Mum. “I don’t understand why we’re staying here anyway: home is fifteen minutes away.”
“Because you’re setting off with your father and Ella early tomorrow morning,” Mum says.
“You’re joking,” I say, gripped with a fresh wave of fear. “I can’t go away with them…”
Waking up drenched in sweat, I look at my watch. 6.39am. Phew, it was a dream. But what a ghastly dream it was, I think.
Crawling through to the kitchen, I put the kettle on, heart rate still elevated from the trauma of my dream. Sipping my cup of coffee, I check my emails, Facebook, my blog reader.
At seven o’clock I call the parentals.
“There’s someone orange and furry next to me,” Mum says.
“Mum, I had a terrible dream,” I say. “Dad had a twenty four year old girlfriend and we had to go out for dinner with them and…”
Mum laughs. “Don’t worry darling, your Dad couldn’t be bothered to get a twenty four year old girlfriend.”
“Hope not,” I say. “How’s my fluffy?”
“Can you hear him?” Mum says.
Listening, I make out a low rumble. “Ah he’s purring,” I say. “Good morning fluffy.”
On my bike at the gym, staring at the cloudless blue sky, the anxiety hasn’t gone. It could linger all day. Anyway, lifting some weights ought to help. And another day at the Office.
Have attached photo of apple blossom round the corner from the Office yesterday. Note the blue sky. Today is going to be even hotter: 25 degrees apparently!
Happy Wednesday everyone!
*1997. By Catherine Dexter. Young adult detective thriller.