OF BERNADETTE CYNTHIA HEALY
'Morning mum,' Polly kisses me on the cheek and hugs me. I didn't realise I was so in need of some company and I blink away the lump in my throat.
'Morning,' I croak, 'tea?' I motion to the kettle which is already boiling. She spies the cakes and biscuits.
'Mum, you know I'm trying to diet, you shouldn't tempt me with all these delicious cakes!' she says as she picks up a chocolate éclair.
'I take that as a yes to tea then?' Polly has never been able to say no to temptation, but I'm not one to criticise my children.
I pour the boiling water into a tea pot and carry the tray through to the living room. Polly follows carrying the plate of cakes and biscuits, already onto her second sweet of the morning. I sit down in my armchair with Polly taking residence in her old position on the sofa and I wait no more than thirteen seconds before she jumps on the subject I wish to avoid for as long as possible.
'So where is this will then, and the letter? I hope you'll let me read it?'
It hadn't occurred to me to not let Polly and Jack read the contents of the Last Will and Testament of Bernadette Cynthia Healy, but now that she asks I feel less obliged to allow her to read the other woman's take on my marriage. It feels a little too private and a little too personal, but I cannot stop my children from having an input, and I value their opinions.
'Can we please wait for Jack? I don't want to have to regale the sordid affair more than once.' I use my lawyer voice, the one I save for court and when I want to get my way with my children. It works, even now.
'I suppose so, though you know Jack won't be here for at least another hour. Did he say if he was bringing Melissa?'
'I asked him not to bring Melissa actually. I don't mind Jack telling her, but I don't want to have to see the look of pity on her face. It'll be bad enough from the two of you.'
Polly nods in understanding.
'How was it having the girls over this week then? Was Clare just visiting for breakfast or did she stay the night?' I want to distract the conversation away from my marriage and the affair for as long as I can.
'Yes she did stay the night unfortunately. Clare had another fight with Steve so she wanted to stay at home to teach him a lesson. Why she stays with him I don't understand. But of course I can't criticise him for fear she'll never talk to me again. You're lucky you didn't have this problem with me and Dan when I was in my twenty-five,' she smiles at the memory.
'She's a grown woman Polly, and she's allowed to make her own mistakes. Steve isn't a bad guy - '
'No he's not a bad guy' she interrupts, 'but he doesn't have a proper job, he's always going to auditions, most of which Clare drives him to, and then he sulks when he doesn't get the part. I don't know how she does it, I couldn't bear to live with a successful actor, let alone a failing one.'
'But she loves him,' I don't question the fact. Clare reminds me of myself at her age; we have the same green eyes and rash personality, though she hasn't yet given in to the institution of marriage. Jonathon and Steve couldn't be more different, and I secretly agree with Polly about his ability as an actor and I doubt Jonathon would approve of her choice. But Clare's eyes light up whenever she talks about him, which is enough to tell me there is more to Steve than meets the eye.
Polly purses her lips, 'I did think she'd have grown out of it by now. I know they live together but it's been a tenuous three years. Thank god she's more sensible and - '
'Conventional?' I tease my daughter. She's the epitome of a suburban housewife these days, though as a child she was far more rebellious.
We continue to talk about my grandchildren. I love the two girls and I wish I could see more of them. Sonia is only seventeen and she worries more about what her friends think than her family, and I do miss the innocence of their youth. Time is terribly unforgiving in that way.