IMPORTANT NOTE: Take a Bite Cafe will continue here until 18th October when it will transfer to my new site.
Megan and Jimmy go to a party
‘What a fucker,’ El said, shaking her head.
‘We don’t know it’s Rick’s new job,’ I said.
‘Oh, we know.’ She took a gulp of wine. The strange thing about little kid’s parties was there always seemed to be more alcohol and adults than kids. I’d limited myself to Ribena to avoid the embarrassment of tripping over my crutches.
It was chaos. We were in El and Abi’s large back garden with a free-for-all football match going on behind us, Tommy and some of his friends were running around with toys that sprayed clouds of bubbles, and some of the kids appeared to just be running around screaming for the sake of it.
‘Mum said the last time she saw Rick he was wearing a very nice suit,’ Bella said, sitting on my other side. ‘I’m going to guess he’s in management. For a nice suit it must be higher than store, area maybe, or regional.’
‘How’d he get up there in four years?’ I muttered.
‘People like him always do,’ El said. ‘All that slick charm slides right up the greasy pole. They’re one with the grease.’ She clinked her glass of wine against my Ribena. ‘But grease is flammable.’
Bella smirked. ‘You burned him good and proper last time.’
I sipped my drink thoughtfully, it felt like I was the one who’d got burnt, as if the grease had rubbed off on me.
Bella leaned forward. ‘You know what this means?’
‘If I kill him it’ll be considered justifiable homicide?’ I asked, scowling at my drink as if I was contemplating killing it.
‘Either he hates you and wants to put you out of business, or he wants to poach you for new place hoping for smexy times.’ She did a slow wiggle in her chair. ‘I vote for smexy times.’
I wasn’t sure but didn’t fancy dissecting my ex-boyfriend’s motives at my godson’s birthday party.
‘Rick wants his bunny back but he’s forgotten bunny’s got kick.’ El tipped her glass to me. ‘Pretty sure bunny’s already got dick…’ She tilted her head towards the football match where Jimmy was playing for… someone.
Bella sighed. ‘I bet that’s some good dick.’
El glanced at me with a smile. If there was anyone who knew there were things I liked better than dick, it was her.
Bella leaned on the table and rested her chin on her fist. ‘Sooo… is it good dick?’
‘Sis,’ I said.
‘Valid question.’ El propped her head on her chin. ‘Is it a fun stick or lick it and stick it?’
Bella and I both looked at her.
‘What? I almost had dick once.’ She raised her hand like she was wielding a sock puppet. ‘It’s like the giant worm from Tremors found old balloons behind the settee and wants to put them on your chin.’
I spat Ribena on the grass and Bella collapsed back in her chair cackling.
El put her hand over her heart. ‘It was then I knew my true love was vag.’
‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘Dick has its high points.’
Bella almost fell off her chair.
‘Are you alright, Mummy?’ Emily popped out of nowhere and put her forehead to Bella’s as she dangled from the chair.
Bella jumped back. ‘Just telling jokes, sweetie.’
‘I know a joke.’ Emily clasped her hands behind her back. ‘Knock, knock. Who’s there? Doorbell… person.’ She giggled.
Our laughter was unconvincing but she didn’t seem to notice.
‘Can I play with your magic arm legs, Auntie Megs?’ She grabbed one of my crutches and ran away with it over her head.
Bella stared after her. ‘I’ll find that under her bed in six months with mysterious sticky stuff on.’
‘How do they make things sticky when there’s no sticky stuff around?’ El asked.
‘Literally no idea.’
I sipped my drink having no kids there was nothing I could add but the hope Emily would bring my crutch back sooner than six months.
Tommy ran over and smacked my swollen knee with his bubblemaker squeezing between El and me. He curled his fingers on the edge of the table, rose up on his toes, and eyed my uneaten cake. ‘I like your boyfriend Auntie Meg, do you like him?’
The paper table cloth started moving towards him, along with the cake and everything else.
‘Jimmy isn’t Auntie Meg’s boyfriend,’ El said, watching me.
‘But he’s a boy and he’s her friend.’ Tommy tried to reach for the cake with both hands but it was still too far away for his little arms.
I picked up the plate and put it in front of him. ‘I like Jimmy very much.’
El arched her eyebrows at me. ‘Very much?’
Tommy grinned and grabbed the slice of sponge, cream, and icing with both hands.
‘Baby, maybe you should cut the cake up,’ El said.
One of the little kids ran passed the table carrying the football and giggling.
Tommy compromised by shoving the cake in his face and ending up with two handfuls and icing down his front. He seemed perfectly happy as he chewed. ‘Is he going to be our Uncle?’ he asked around a mouth full of chewed cake.
‘I suppose you’ll have to ask him,’ I said.
Tommy left his bubblemaker on the ground between us and hurried towards the football game only to be caught by Abi who attempted to clean the cake off his face while he tried to eat his handfuls.
El smiled. ‘So, you keep that from everyone else but break under interrogation by a five year old?’
‘We’re keeping it quiet from nosey patrons.’
‘Uh-huh, nothing to do with the commitmentphobia you’ve developed.’ She sipped her wine.
‘I knew it when he turned up and the hospital and looked like he wanted to bury you in… a hugs and kisses.’ Bella grinned. ‘Explains why you wanted to find your phone and call him.’ She made kissing sounds.
‘Wait,’ I said. ‘Is there a mistake? I thought you were the older sister.’
‘So…’ El wiggled her eyebrows. ‘How far along is this? Early days or have you corrupted him with your sexual deviance?’
I cleared my throat. ‘He didn’t take much corrupting.’
She laughed. ‘Ooof, perfect for you.’
I’d never managed to ‘corrupt’ El, but I’d never wanted to, she wasn’t into it so she wasn’t into it. Plus she wanted kids and a nice house with a big garden, I hadn’t. In the end we’d worked better as friends than lovers.
‘Is it love?’ she asked. ‘Or sex?’
I opened my mouth then closed it. Saying love out loud to someone other than Jimmy seemed… Somehow it seemed more real.
‘Love it is then.’ She poured herself and Bella more wine. ‘If it wasn’t you’d say sex and give me the gories without a second thought. I’ve never been sure if that was admirable or slightly scary.’
I shrugged. ‘Honesty is important.’
‘If you’re not careful you’ll turn out like Nan,’ Bella said.
El saluted Bella with her glass. ‘Lovely though she is God did not make that woman with a filter.’
I looked at Bella. ‘Fair point. I suspect it might be genetic.’
‘Harsh,’ she said.
‘Then poor Jimmy,’ El said. ‘Does he know what he signed up for?’
I chuckled. ‘I suspect he knows better than I do.’
‘Not everyone is Rick, Meg.’ She spread her arms. ‘Look at us. Over ten years, still besties. Granted it helps that I know you’ll pummel anyone who messes with me into the ground, so that’s a definite benefit.’
I shook my head.
She put her hand over mine. ‘You’re going to have to let that shield down eventually or it’ll start causing problems. You can’t let love into your heart if there’s no door.’
‘That’s right poetic,’ Bella said.
El grinned. ‘Thank you.’
‘I am trying,’ I said. ‘But it’s harder than I remember.’
‘I know, sweetie.’ El glanced over my shoulder at the football match. ‘And from the way he looks at you, so does he.’
Bella raised her glass. ‘Amen.’
I didn’t think knowing I had a scar tissue heart would help if I didn’t get myself together. People couldn’t live on broken promises and secrets.
I supposed that meant I couldn’t either.
El sighed and looked at her watch. ‘Right, time to swap over and give Abi a break.’ She pulled a cycle helmet from under the table and shoved it on her head. ‘Pray for me.’
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