‘Have you spoken to your sister?’ Gyll asks Fen her oldest and least obstinate daughter; they are at Sotheby’s to pick up the art work she bought at auction.
‘Yes mother, I have and she is doing well and looking forward to Christmas.’
‘She’s not taking any of my calls.’
‘That’s nothing new.’ Fen shrugs. From time to time she would meet up with their mother for one of her art followed by champagne, afternoon teas, her way of making up for lost time, she connects with every child on their turf; Fen is an art curator in one London’s finest galleries so before every auction Gyll would call her for advice and then invite her along to pick up whatever work she won the bid on. It has become their thing.
Jason is into farming, and owns a farm to table restaurant in Devon so every month she spends time with him there, helping out where she can. Thomas owns a wooden toy brand, his toys often make the best of the best lists each season, handmade in a factory in London, so she spends whatever time he can spare to see her, in his wood workshop, and from time to time, he would even let her pick up a tool. Each Christmas she commissions a toy for each of her grandchildren. It had become their thing. Cleo heads a luxury lifestyle brand, one of the very best that is on the lips of every well healed socialite of the upper echelon.
‘That’s cold.’ Gyll says to Fen, hurt by her daughter’s indifference.
‘Mother, we do this every time, you get me to come with you to collect your artwork then we stop by Claridges for afternoon tea and champagne, exchange air kisses and go our separate ways until the next auction. In between that time you needle me for information on your youngest daughter, information you know you can easily get from her-’
‘You know she won’t take my calls.’
‘And whose fault is that?’
Glyn raises her hands peaceably, ‘I deserve that.’
Fen counts to ten in her head, ‘sorry, I don’t mean to be a bitch.’
‘You weren’t. You were looking out for your sister, protecting her from me but I wish you knew how much I love her and how sorry I am for what happened.’
‘I know you love her. In your own peculiar way, I know you do.’
‘I love her as a mother loves a child. Despite what any of you think, I love you all unconditionally and that’s the truth.’
Fen nods wondering why she puts herself through this rig marrow with their mother. She did not suffer the loss nearly as bad as JJ did or maybe she suffered it more, having been there, old enough to live through it, every day, knowing the feeling it brought and never truly getting over that, but she will not let their mother affect her youngest sister, not when JJ has had to work through so much, having been through even much more as a child and learning the truth about what really happened between her parents. It is a lot to ask of one’s child.
‘I know you do. Just give her time.’
‘What if she never forgives me.’
For the first time in a long time, maybe in ever, Fen hears the panic in her mother’s voice, the desperation and the absolute regret. ‘She will, she just needs time.’ Bloody hell.
‘Will you at least be joining me for tea, it’s the Ritz this time.’ A small smile brightens Gyll’s face. What she wouldn’t do to turn back the hands of time when her youngest child was all of five being raised by a mother who simply couldn’t and a father who wished she would.
‘Of course wouldn’t miss it for the world.’ Playing happy families for the public, isn’t that what they are good at?