“Friends and Lovers”……chapter 11

It was early December at last, and Meg was desperate for the holidays. After the charade with Leonard, she had endured another week of barely disguised whispers, and Leonard smugly pretending nothing had happened. But eventually, with no further titillating chapters, everything had slipped back into some normality. But for Meg, she felt the universe had shifted somehow. There wasn’t the same solace or satisfaction in her work anymore, that had been such a saving grace the year past. Even her writing, that had offered her some remote fledgling hope, found her heart and mind dry of inspiration. Luke had brought her to the brink of a new life, and now Meg found herself peering over a precipice into the unknown, all previously familiar and comfortable things now devoid of joy. She was compelled to turn in a different direction, or risk falling into despair.

The only consolation was the increasingly warmer days, and Meg found herself spending  many an afternoon laying on her banana lounge, relishing the warmth of the sun. It seemed to make it regrettably easier to do nothing. But the new- born summer hadn’t quite reached into the evenings yet. Joan had insisted on eating outside for their usual Sunday night dinner together, which they had resumed after Meg could only find enough excuses for two weeks. Though Meg was still a little angry at her mother, Joan was a formidable force. Meg’s only stipulation was that the subject of Sam and reconciliation, was definitely out of bounds. Meg slipped on her windcheater and poured herself another glass of wine.

“That’s your third glass Meg,” said Joan chastisingly. Meg purposely took another large sip.

“I promise I won’t turn into a drunken old maid Mum,” she said sarcastically, smiling as she watched her mother frown and shake her head. “Although I may take up smoking,” she added with mock seriousness, just to tease that last “tut-tut” from her mother’s lips. She laughed then, and put her arm around Joan’s shoulder.

“Mum, don’t worry. But most importantly, please don’t watch everything I do!” Meg said, giving her mother an accusatory squeeze. They both smiled then.

“But I do worry Meg,” Joan resumed, in her usual practical tone. “Did you ever call Anna back? She seemed quite intent on catching up.”

“No Mum I didn’t. I really don’t want to see her. Or any of those people for that matter,” Meg said, suddenly feeling quite agitated, and she took another large sip of wine.

“Why ever not?” her mother persisted. “You used to be quite close.”

“That’s it…used to be,” Meg said. “I just can’t bring myself to go back there….all those people who knew Sam too. It feels like a backward step that’s all. Besides, they weren’t there for me,” she concluded restlessly, and began to clear the table.

“But that’s just about everyone you know Meg!” Joan said in exasperation.

“Yes I know Mum. You don’t think I’ve noticed that?’ Meg replied, equally exasperated. “And you’re doing it again; trying to organize my life for me.” Meg struggled with a tray piled with dirty dishes. Joan followed her into the house.

“Well, it’s just that you aren’t doing much of a job of it on your own!”

“Mum!” said Meg, her voice rising as she turned to face her mother. “I’m a bit of a fatalist. I prefer to let things happen, to unfold in their own good time,” she said, trying to take the edge out of her voice.

“That’s just an excuse to do nothing,” her mother snapped in irritation.

“You would look at it that way Mum, because you always  have to be in control,” Meg answered, as kindly as she could. “But there is such a thing as the optimal time, the right time, the right place…”

“When all the planets are aligned!” Joan scoffed.

“Something like that,” Meg said in silent hope. Meg saw her mother roll her eyes, and she knew Joan was gearing up for one of her lectures. “I don’t want to fight all the time Mum,” Meg said quietly. “Please can we forget it?” she pleaded, relieved to see her mother’s squared shoulders begin to relax.

Joan took a piece of paper from her pocket and passed it to Meg. “At least have a look at this when you get home,” she said, turning to the sink to start the dishes, banging and crashing with barely suppressed annoyance. Meg slipped the paper into her pocket, then came to stand behind her mother, and wrapped her arms around her, resting her head against hers.

“I just need you to be my friend Mum. Just for now O.K?” she pleaded softly. Two soapy hands came up to cover hers.

“I’ve always been your friend darling,” she answered, suddenly sounding very tired. “I know what I’m like. It’s just hard watching your only child struggle.” She still hadn’t turned to face her daughter, obviously finding it easier to talk that way. It seemed she only had to look at Meg and she was compelled to express her opinion.

“I’ll be o.k. Mum,” Meg reassured her. “I come from tough stock.” And she meant it.

Meg had almost forgotten about the note her mother had given her earlier. Emptying her pockets while changing for bed, she noticed what appeared to be a newspaper clipping amongst her tissues and keys. It was a coupon for two free visits to a local yoga class….”Margaret Harding’s Yoga and Meditation.” Meg smiled to think of her mother cutting out such an advertisement. Yoga and meditation was far too ethereal for her mother’s practical nature, and it warmed Meg’s heart to know that  she was thinking wholly of her interests. Yoga was something she had enjoyed for a short time many years before.

As she changed into her pyjamas, Meg gave an indifferent stretch just to test her physical boundaries. Before she switched off the lamp, she checked just quickly, what days and times the classes were held.

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