WRITTEN BY MARY GREEN
Trickles of sweat surged across Tessa’s face as she stepped out onto the patio. She had put on too much make-up. Not a good idea, not in this heat.
She gave a sharp sigh of anxiety and raised her arm against the sun’s glare. As she did so, the carefully selected cutlery she was holding slipped from her grasp and scattered across the ground. It was too much.
Alan looked up from his appointed task as she muttered a string of words.
“What was that?” He’d forgotten she knew those kinds of words. “Calm down, Tessa.” He eased himself upright. “Getting yourself all worked up won’t help matters.” He straightened his baseball cap. “It’s going to be all right. He’s young, he –”
“Exactly,” Tessa exclaimed. How could Alan be so blind to the horrors of the situation?
“That’s exactly why it’s not going to be all right.”
She sank into an inspected chair. “He’s young and she’s… oh, why couldn’t he have been more precise?” She stood up, noticed the strewn cutlery and promptly sat down again.
“He would have said if the difference was only a couple of years.” She dabbed at her face with the edge of her apron.
“What did he actually say?” Alan sat down in the chair he was about to inspect. It was too hot to do two things at once. “That she was a bit older but they were twinned souls, was that it?”
“You know it was, and you also know that ‘a bit’ in Sam’s vocabulary is the same as ‘a lot’ when he knows he’s done something we won’t like.”
Tessa closed her eyes in near despair as a slight breeze lifted the edges of the four paper napkins placed equidistant around the table.
“Oh, Alan, I can’t bear the thought of him being a mere fashion accessory.”
“Fashion accessory? Sam?” Alan was lost. Had he missed something?
“That’s what toy boys are. I can’t understand these women. What do they want, exactly?”
Alan opened his mouth to respond but the sight of his distraught wife changed his mind. Now was not the time for a candid reply to that particular question.
“Well, I can’t honestly see any woman picking Sam for that particular role.”
A bank of grey cloud had appeared on the horizon.
“Why not, what’s wrong with our son?”
Alan took a deep breath and cracked his knuckles.
“Nothing’s wrong with our son but he doesn’t change his clothes, particularly his socks, as often as he should; he doesn’t believe in wearing clothes that fit; I doubt he possesses a comb and, I know it’s not his fault, but he does have a bit of a problem with his complexion. Not, in my opinion, the ideal fashion accessory.”
Tessa opened her mouth.
“Plus,” Alan continued, “you were less than complimentary about the state of the house he’s sharing and it didn’t sound like the sort of residence that would attract a gold-digger!”
Two things happened. Several large spots of rain fell on the paper napkins and the front door bell rang.
“I’ll get that.” Alan moved swiftly back into the house and out of the rain.
Tessa stayed where she was and uttered another string of words, most for the first time in her life, some of whose meaning was even unknown to her.
Hi, Mum! What are you doing out there? It’s raining.”
Tessa looked across the patio at her tousled son. He had a big grin on his face and was giving her a cheery wave. But what on earth was that he had beside him?
A distant roll of thunder sent Alan out to retrieve her.
“You’re all wet, Mum.” Tessa felt a scratchy rub against her cheek. That, she vaguely thought, was another thing Sam didn’t do very often – shave.
“This is Amber, my twinned soul mate.” Tessa felt herself being taken by the arm. “She was born on the same day, in the same year as me but ten minutes earlier. Really cool, don’t you think?”
But Tessa wasn’t listening.
Was that curly mass of rainbow colours really Amber’s hair?