Home > Watermelon (Walsh Family #1)(13)

Watermelon (Walsh Family #1)(13)
Marian Keyes

Out with The Little Mermaid and in with The Female Eunuch.

"When are you going to give her a name?" asked Dad.

"Oh, I just have," I told him. "I'm going to call her after Granny."

"Lovely," beamed Dad.

"Hello, little Nora," he said to the pink bundle in a singsong baby voice.

Helen, Mum and I exchanged stricken looks.

Wrong granny!

"Er, no Dad," I said awkwardly. "I've called her Kate."

"But my mother isn't called Kate." He frowned in confusion.

"I know, Dad," I faltered. (Oh Christ, why was life so fraught with pit- falls?) "But I've called her after Granny Maguire, not Granny Walsh."

"Oh, I see," he said a bit coldly.

"But I'll give her Nora for her second name," I promised cringingly.

"No way!" interrupted Helen. "Call her something nice. I know! How about Elena? Elena is Greek for Helen, you know."

"Shush, Helen," admonished Mum. "It's Claire's baby."

Really, Helen was exhausting.

However, as she had the attention span of a saucepan--

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that is, absolutely none whatsoever--she soon turned her attention to other things.

"Hey, Dad, can I have a lift to Linda's?"

"Helen, I'm not a chauffeur," replied Dad, evenly and tightly.

"Dad, I didn't ask you what you do for a living. I know what you do for a living. I simply asked you for a lift," Helen said in a very "I'm prepared to be reasonable about this" voice.

"No, Helen, you can bloody well walk!" exclaimed Dad. "I honestly don't know what's wrong with all you young people. Laziness, that's what it is. Now, when I--"

"Dad," Helen interrupted him sharply, "please don't tell me again how you had to walk three miles to school in your bare feet. I really couldn't bear it. Just give me a lift." And she gave him a little cat smile from under her long black fringe.

He stared at her in exasperation for a moment and then he started to laugh. "Oh, all right then," he said, jingling his car keys. "Come on."

He handed Kate back to me.

The way a baby should be handed back.

"Night, night, Kate Nora," he said.

Dad and Helen left.

Mum, Kate Nora, and I remained on the bed, savoring the silence occa- sioned by Helen's departure.

"Now," I said sternly to Kate, "that was your first lesson on how to treat a man, courtesy of your Auntie Helen. I hope you took lots of notice. Treat them like slaves and, sure enough, they'll behave like slaves."

Kate stared wide-eyed up at me.

My mother just smiled inscrutably.

A smug, secret smile.

A knowing kind of a smile.

The smile of a woman whose husband has done the vacuuming for the past fifteen years.

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five

And so to bed.

It felt very odd to be going to sleep in the bed in which I had spent my teenage years. And it was kind of weird to be kissed good-night by my mother when I had my own child in a bassinet beside me.

I was a mother, but I didn't need Sigmund Freud to tell me that I still felt like a child myself.

Kate stared open-eyed at the ceiling. She was probably still in shock from her encounter with Helen. I was a bit anxious about her but, to my surprise, I actually felt quite tired. I went to sleep quickly. Although I'd thought that I really wouldn't be able to sleep at all.

Ever again, I mean.

Kate gently roused me at about two A.M. by crying at about a million decibels. I wondered if she had gone to sleep at all. I fed her. Then I went back to bed.

I went back to sleep but, a few hours later, I jolted awake again, filled with horror. Horror that had nothing to do with the exuberantly flowery Laura Ashleyesque wallpaper, curtains and duvet cover that surrounded me and that I could dimly see through the darkness.

Horror that I was in Dublin and not in my apartment in London with my beloved James.

I looked at the clock and it was (yes, you guessed it) four A.M. I should have taken comfort from the fact that approximately a quarter of the Greenwich Mean Time world had just

44

jolted awake also and were lying, staring miserably into the darkness, worrying about everything from "Will I be laid off?" to "Will I ever meet someone who really loves me?" to "Am I pregnant?"

But it was no comfort.

Because I felt as if I was in Hell.

And comparing it to someone else's Hell didn't make the pain of mine any less.

I sat up in bed in the dark.

Kate slept peacefully beside me.

We were like night watchmen, staying awake in shifts. Although the re- semblance ended there, because I couldn't say--well, at least not with any sincerity--"Four o'clock and all is well."

My stomach lurched with the horror of it all. I couldn't believe that I was in my parents' house in Dublin and not in my apartment in London with my husband. I felt that I must have been out of my mind to have left London and abandoned James to another woman! Had I gone completely mad? I had to go back. I had to fight for him! I had to get him back!

I couldn't be without James.

He was part of me.

If my arm had fallen off I wouldn't have said, "Oh, leave it there for the moment. It'll come back if it's meant to be. No point in forcing it. It might only drive it away." After all, it was my arm, and James was much more a part of me than any old arm.

I needed him a lot more.

I loved him a lot more.

I simply couldn't be without him.

I wanted him back. I wanted my life with him back. And I was going to get him back. (And get him on his back.)

(Sorry, that was flippant and vulgar.)

I was panic-stricken: I should never have left.

I should have stood my ground and just told him that he and I would be able to work things out. That he couldn't possibly love Denise. That he loved me. That I was too much a part of him for him not to love me.

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But I had admitted defeat and delivered him into Denise's cellulitey (but they were!) arms without any kind of protest.

I had to speak to him now.

He wouldn't mind my calling him at four in the morning. I mean, this was James we were talking about here. He was my best friend. I could do anything and James didn't mind. He understood me. He knew me.

And I would fly back to London with Kate in the morning. And my life would be fixed.

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