Jacob ushers me into the living room, flapping as I brush one of the children's scribbled artworks stuck to the door. He indicates to the sofa and then vacates the room. I blink, the lurid green colour scheme perhaps just as shocking as the phone call that morning. I take a seat, mindful of the garish pink cushions that litter the sofa. The room puts one in mind of some sort of sickly boiled sweet as opposed to the calm, relaxing area a living room is supposed to provide.
I spend a moment musing into the compulsory cup of tea that was thrust upon me the moment I got through the door. I think of their tea, one half empty cup, the other full, both the temperature of death in those bone china cups inherited from Auntie Ilene. This cup has a chip in the handle, and I hear your voice Ma, Jacob, honestly! You could have done yourself better. Any woman who gives a guest a broken cup is not worth your efforts.
So busy staring into the sloppy brown substance I have come to despise, I fail to notice the woman entering the room. It's only when she comes to a halt behind the sofa that I acknowledge her presence and turn around. Her mouth sets into a cold, firm line.
'Jacob,' she bellows 'You never said he would be here.'
I briefly look her up and down, getting a blur of red and brown dreadlocks, shark tooth necklace, star tattoo, green vest top and too tight jeans. She's wearing a leather jacket with a huge flapping collar and clumpy black boots made of a sheeny, shiny, plasticy mess.
These items of clothing are what I like to call money munching monsters – excuse the name- I made it up when I was 10 years old after dearest Mother spent £54.99 on a top of the range coffee machine for a household which drank tea and only tea. The items I'm talking about are the sort of thing with a price tag the size of Russia but the quality and aesthetics of an Indian sweatshop.
There is one thing about this woman though, with her unfamiliar face and ghastly jacket which renders her known. The plait. That rebellious plait. I'm not sure what I expected when I found her. A tight hug? Tears, joy, shouting? I don't know. And I'm not sure who I expected to find either; the 18-year-old girl who left me, I suppose.
The air is tight, tense and fit for bursting. She's waiting for either Jacob to sweep in and save her, knight in shining armour style or for me to say something. Unfortunately, it turns out to be the latter. For the situation, I don't suppose it's neither expected nor appropriate, but I don't plan it and my mouth opens and we descend sadly into bathos.
'That's a nasty jacket, you've got there.' I say, and her eyes flare. Congratulations Adrian. The Wren siblings' reunion has just got off cracking wonderful start.
Just a short little extract An Adrian Story
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