Twenty One: Questions

“So, how long are you planning on staying here?” Mum asks me the next day. I’m feeling extremely tired, and so is Gerard, and we sit slumped on the sofas with hot drinks (a cup of tea for me and a cup of coffee for Gerard).

“Um...I’m not sure,” I answer in a blurry voice, sipping my tea. “Gerard’ a holiday. And I can be here for as long as I need to be.”

Mum looks slightly pleased with this answer. “Does this mean your stay here might be ... permanent?”

I consider this before I answer. “Yes.”

Mum’s face looks as if it’ll split if she doesn’t stop smiling.

“Well, I haven’t really got a life back in America anymore,” I explain, “the suicide left me with a bad reputation and no one seems to want to hire me, or that’s what Tina said – and I’m not working with her anymore...”

“Why?” This Giselle speaking, wandering into the room with fluffy slippers on carrying a mug of tea.

“Well, I found out...well, she told you I’d changed my numbers and everything when I hadn’t. She lied to you and me and planted the seed in my mind that you didn’t want to talk to me anymore...she claims she only did it to help but hell, I’m not buying that.”

Gerard chips in. “Not to mention she gave Layla virtually no breathing space when it came to a personal life.”

“True,” I nod.

Mum doesn’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact I’m exhausted and is asking a lot of questions that I can’t be bothered answering in complex details.

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Are you going to get a job?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where are you going to live?”

“Again, I don’t know.”

Mum goes quiet. “You can live here, if you like.”

I nod. “Thanks.”

“But I really think you should be getting a job – not in this week,” she adds hastily, “once you’ve settled in again...”

I nod again. “Hmmm...I suppose you’re right...” Then I sigh. “I haven’t got any qualifications...well, not many...I don’t know what I’d do...”

Gerard speaks up. “I’d help you find a job!” he offers.

I stare at him.

“You would?”

“Well, duh. I’ve helped you with everything else so I don’t see why your job hunting would be any different.”

I shrug. “I suppose. I just didn’t...” I trail off.

“Didn’t what?” he prompts.

I wriggle uncomfortably and my mum begins to engage Giselle in a loud conversation about a TV show, so I drop my voice to a murmur and say to him, “I just didn’t think you’d be around long enough to see me get a job and everything...”

He looks at me as if I have two heads. “Sugar, I’m not going anywhere,” he promises, giving me a slight squeeze. “So, when do we start job hunting?”