“I really shouldn’t be going,” I said to Rebecca.
“I know but it’s Mum’s last day and she would like your company.” I could picture Rebecca’s mother, Doleres, with her pixie face and couldn’t stop the smile spreading across my face.
I twisted the diary in my hands. There were a thousand I things I should be doing and going handbag shopping wasn’t one of them but it wouldn’t be handbag shopping. It would be quality time with friends which was different all together but Tom’s scathing words about Julia and me shopping echoes in my ears. He clearly felt that was all I did but he was so wrong.
“Okay, I give in. I’ll be with you a few minutes.”
I looked down at the note on the table. Tom’s scratchy writing stared at me.
Don’t forget that Ollie has a snow boarding lesson after school today.
There was no kiss, no love, no nothing but what did I expect and yet this morning when I woke I was carefully covered in a blanket from our bed as I had collapsed on the sofa rather than face the spare room. He obviously cared enough not to let me become chilled in the air-conditioning but not enough to put any warmth in the note. Maybe he had expected me to crawl into bed with him. It seemed no matter what I did it would be the wrong thing.
Rebecca was pulling her Cayenne out of the drive as I approached. Dolores was waving. It would be great to have a mum like that but it wasn’t to be. I clambered into the back seat.
“So, Sam how was Jakarta?” Rebecca led the car swiftly into the traffic. I flinched as a speeding car nearly collided with another in front.
“Your voice doesn’t sound fantastic?” Rebecca avoided another accident and I began to wonder if the traffic had taken another notch down the scale of dire while I was away or had I just forgotten.
“Sorry, must be jet lag.”
“You don’t suffer jet lag.”
“Your own words. What’s up? Is it Tom?”
“What’s wrong with you and Tom?” Dolores swung round to face me in the back seat like a heat seeking missile pixie.
“Lots, I think.” We nearly crashed into a lurching lorry. “Concentrate on the driving Becca and not on what I’m saying.”
“Right.” I watched both her hands grip the wheel.
A gentle hand crept back and touched my knee. I looked at the ages spots that were liberally sprinkled across it and felt a lump in my throat. My grandmother’s hand used to look the same way and I used to trace my fingers across then playing invisible connect the dots.
“Now, I’ll need your help girls to find the right now bags for the granddaughters. I haven’t any idea what the young like.” A gentle smile peered back at me and I grinned back. How did one learn that type of tack? I stared out the window and tried to put all thoughts of me and Tom out of my head.
Dolores linked her arm through my as soon as we arrived. I wasn’t sure if it was for my comfort or to dissuade the chorus of hawkers as we worked out way to our favourite handbag shop. “Watches madam. Handbags, madam. Good price.” They all seemed to sing in rounds.
Rebecca kept shooting me sly glances my while we greeted the man who ran our favourite haunt. I was trying to focus my mind on the task at hand. What was the latest it bag for eighteen year olds. Was it the Chloe? Or Marc Jacobs? What was this seasons must have colour?
My fingers slipped over the leather testing for quality? I was trying to lose myself in the texture.
“Did you have another fight?” Becca leaned close to me.
“Just what does that mean?” she asked.
“We didn’t shout.”
“That’s positive, isn’t it?”
“What depends dear? I do like this green, don’t you?” Dolores held up a messenger bag in a olive green.
I nodded and indicated to the man we’d like to see some other bags. I had hoped this would change Becca’s train of thought as we left the shop for another.
“You both need to see a counsellor. You need to do it for Ollie.”
“I won’t argue with you there but I know there is no way that Tom will go near that. That would mean talking about what is actually wrong and hearing my point of view. He just hasn’t got time for that.”
Rebecca gave me one of her stern glances that normally had her three kids quaking in their shoes. I shrugged it off. I knew Tom wouldn’t go into counselling. It wasn’t how he looked at life. He would sign the divorce papers before he see a therapist of any kind.
“Dolores, see that green colour there.” I pointed to a Louis Vuiton satchel. “That is one of this season’s colours. Can you two excuse me? I have just remembered that I didn’t pick up a gift for Ollie while I was away. I’m going to go buy him a tea shirt next door.”
“We’ll meet you there. If you see a Man U shirt in Peter’s size will you pick it up for me?” Rebecca was clutching the latest Channel that I quite fancied but I at this point I didn’t dare bring a new bag into the villa.
My eyes rebelled at the bright sunlight and I swung my sunglasses down from the top of my head. I was about to duck into the sportswear shop when I noticed a Filipino woman smoking outside the children’s shop next door. Something about her was familiar. I paused to look at the rack of shoes by the entrance and hoped that my glasses were dark enough that she couldn’t see my scrutiny.
Her long black hair hung loose on her shoulders and she wore a tight tee shirt over sprayed on jeans with three inch stilettos. How she could stand in them all day I didn’t know. She took a deep drag on her cigarette and that’s when I noticed that she wasn’t quite what she appeared. Her features were not of the Philippines and she had short pink nails.