If you’d like to read Helena first, click here.
– – –
Ms. Harris perches at a small table, rolling melting ice cubes around in her short glass, vacantly staring in the direction of the empty chair across. Her lips purse as she surrenders to the realization he isn’t going to show…again.
“One more round, Gladys?”
It’s why she comes here. They know she’s not done, but are polite enough to ask as though she might be.
“Absolutely, Damien. Just one more.”
“I’ve decided I won’t be here long.”
He gives the empty seat the same look she had, nods and heads to the bar.
Gladys. She’s never loved her name. Never understood how someone could look into a tiny newborn’s face and choose Gladys, but still, she prefers it to Ms. Harris. She’d been tempted many times over the years to return to her maiden name, but couldn’t bear to be separated from Helena, even if only by title.
She adjusts her blouse and crosses her legs.
They certainly did not need to add different surnames to the long list of things they didn’t have in common. Besides, it would seem their name is all that held them together at times and Gladys never took that for granted.
She picks up her phone. No messages. She’s not surprised. He’s never had any respect.
Tempted to text her daughter, she puts the phone in her bag. The last thing Helena had said to her before entering the school this morning was; ‘I’m fine. Stay out of it.”
And, she’d tried. All these years she had tried to stay out of it, but had never quite managed. Had never had a choice. He’d made sure of that.
Damien returns with a whiskey on the rocks. Her second. And her last for today. Despite being unwanted, she’d be there waiting for Helena to emerge once the school day was done.
Eyeing up the shot, she waits for the ice to weaken the sting.