Shut up, Ma, just shut the fuck up.
Shauna stared at the ice cube melting into the coke in the bottom of her glass. She put her finger against the cold glass.
The ice in her ma’s glass bumped against the black and gold sign every time she lifted it to her mouth. Talk, talk, clink clink, swallow, talk some more.
Shauna looked around the big room. There were lots of people coming in and out the doors at both ends pulling suitcases. Some sados on their own, some in groups. The screen on the wall behind the bar showed pictures of people standing with their arms around each other, crying. Candles and teddies and people lying under shiny blankets, probably bodies. Shauna looked away. Her ma’s stupid voice jabbering on in her ear.
‘Yeah, yeah. She’s here beside me.’ Her ma shouting into the phone. Nodding her head like a muppet, smiling as if he could see her.
Shauna’s stomach made those bubbly sounds. When they came in she’d asked her ma if she could have sausages and beans but her ma pretended she hadn’t heard and had just ordered the Magner and coke.
Shut the fuck up, Ma. He can’t bleeding see ya.
Shauna lifted the hairband off her head.
‘Yeah pet, so’s she — only dying to see ya.’
She put her hand over the phone and hissed at Shauna,
‘Leave that bleeding alone.’
Shauna knew the look in her ma’s eye and let go of the hard plastic band. When her ma had taken it out of the bag last night she thought she was taking the piss and had laughed, then shouted she wasn’t going to wear it. After a couple of slaps she knew it was no joke. She couldn’t sleep at the thought of Tina or the others seeing her dressed up in the skirt and jacket, her hair caught into two tight plaits and the stupid hairband with the row of pink and yellow flowers running across the top of her head.
Jaysus, what if someone had caught her on camera and put it up? It would go viral. She shivered and shut her eyes.
Her ma pulled at her arm. Shauna opened her eyes.
‘He’ll be here soon.’ She lifted the glass and took a long swallow.
Shauna said nothing. She didn’t remember Mike even when Ma called her a right little madam and rooted through the drawer for a photo of a skinny bloke with his top off dangling a baby on his knee, a cigarette in his grinning mouth. She’d stared at the photo. They were on a beach under a stripey umbrella and she was dressed in a babygrow and sunhat. She looked as if she was going to cry.
Her ma plonked her glass down on to the table and bent down to get her bag from the floor. She caught Shauna’s arm,
‘Com’on,’ she straightened up, ‘and don’t you bleeding mess this up.’
Patricia Wallace ©