If You Were Here*

Waking up with a start, I look at my watch.  5.45pm.  Oh nooooo.  We settled down for a nap at 3pm and…

“Darling can you pass me my phone,” I say to Seb.  He’s waking up:  rubbing his turquoise eyes.

“Hello,” he says, putting his arms round me.  “That was such a nice sleep.  I like falling asleep with you.”

“We were meant to meet Lily and Suzie,” I say.  “They were going to call us when they set off.”

Sitting up in bed, I switch my phone on.  There are three texts from Suzie.  Oh dear.  This doesn’t bode well.

“We need to know exactly where you are so we can find the right entrance.  We’re coming from your flat by foot,” the first one says.  Then, a bit later:

“Come and find us at the cafe under the trees.”

Then, at 3.44pm:  “I’m leaving at 5pm and if we don’t hear from you, Lily will too.  You OK?”

This is terrible. They have dragged themselves to my park and waited and gone home.  Poor Lily and Suzie and the poor baby.  

“Oh dear, we were asleep.  Just woke up, sorry,” I text both of them.

“You haven’t had a good influence on me.  Not only am I not getting more organised but I’ve started making you late,” Seb says, sitting up, his hair sticking up, pillow marks on his face.

“I can’t believe we missed them,” I say, wanting to burst into tears.

“Look,” Seb says, putting his arms round me, stroking my hair.  “It’s ok.  They were together, in a nice park, with the lemurs.  You didn’t leave one of them, on her own, waiting in a bus station in a dangerous place or something.  I’m sure they’ll forgive you.”

“They won’t believe that you’re real,” I say, sniffing.  Must not cry, I think.  Must not cry about this in front of Seb.

Seb laughs.  “Well never mind.”

“Anyway,” I say.  “It’s almost six o’clock.  You’re going to be hours late for your Mum and…”

“Don’t worry, my love,” Seb says, throwing some of his belongings into his huge bag.  He didn’t bring his special pillow this time but there is still a lot of stuff: refills for his smoking device, pants, t-shirts, more grooming products than one would expect.

I don’t want him to go, I think, as I watch him pack.  He’s only been here for fewer than twenty four hours and I want to keep him a bit longer.  But I can’t say this.  I just can’t start competing with his Mum for his time.  It’s a battle that can’t be won: The Charge Of The Light Brigade.  Cannons to the right of them, cannons to the left of them, onwards into the Valley of Death, towards the waiting guns of Seb’s Mum or…

“I’ll come back soon,” Seb says, kissing me.  

“OK,” I say.  “Kisses to your Mum and to all the pets, particularly to the fluffy’s monster’s uncle.”  He is my favourite one.  He oughtn’t to be in a multi-cat household, with his sister and two nieces who gang up on him.  If he was with me I would love him and look after him and…

“Bye darling,” I say.

“Goodbye my love,” he says.

Happy Tuesday everyone!  

*2013.  By Alafair Burke.  “A thrilling novel of suspense”.

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