Six years ago, I asked my mother what she would have done differently. We hadn’t seen each other since that accident, the one that claimed my brother and father’s life; her son and husband. The police said she was drunk at the wheel; she denies it still to this day. I’ve struggled a lot since then, to trust, to be willing to believe that people are inherently good. It was just by chance that we were both there, on that day six years ago. We’d both been invited to my aunt’s birthday. I wasn’t expecting to see her there; her sister had also cut her out of her life, much like I did, so the fact that they’d reconciled was a bit of a shock. She was idly chatting with some of my aunt’s friends, with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other, when our eyes met.
“Still drinking, I see.” I shuffled towards her, my feet sticking to the ground like tar.
“Abigail! It’s so nice to see you.” She put her drink down and wrapped her arm around me. I winced as our bodies closed, the stench of the cigarette smoke clung to her dress like a grease stain. As before, they handed me my papers and a zipper bag long enough for my clothes. I recoiled in confusion as I stared my mother up and down. Looking back towards my hands I could see that there was nothing in them. A phantom of that day.
Recomposing myself, I folded my arms closely to my body, “Mum. So, when did you and Aunt Mavis patch things up? I wasn’t expecting to see you here.” I glazed over as she collected her drink and took another sip; the brazenness of her actions reminded me why I stopped seeing her all those years ago.
“Last summer, we were both invited to the same party for one of our mutual friends. Sarah: you know Sarah, right? She was hosting a gala at Blackpool Tower.” On a scaffold outside I could see the window cleaners for the high rise across the street. What I would have given to be there instead of here with my mother.
“Yeah, I remember Sarah.” I smiled absently, my feet digging away at the carpet beneath me. “I’m going to go mingle, hope you enjoy the rest of the party.” The words escaped my mouth without thought; I just wanted to be gone, free from having to interact with that woman. I turned about face and searched for Mavis, keen to work out why she’d invited my Mum. Stepping back to the bar, I ordered a martini and continued my search, hoping the alcohol would make the evening pass quicker at the very least.
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