And the Gold Medal goes to the Queen of diplomacy.

Submitted into Contest #235 in response to: Make a race an important element of your story.... view prompt

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Drama Fiction Funny

Clara wasn’t sure how it happened but each morning, without fail, she would wake a few seconds before her seven-year-old came bolting into her room. ‘The Usain Bolt of seven-year-olds’, as she and her hubby Toby referred to Elliott. It was almost as if she had an inner alarm clock calling out ‘brace brace’ before impact. As this happened, she always remembered the supportive and reassuring words of her colleague, Kelly, before she helped her into a taxi ahead of her maternity leave.

 

'You'll never sleep properly again love, you're fucked.'


Her response was a very polite, almost what she imagined a 'high society' laugh may sound like. Something similar to the Princess of Wales's response when she was asked if she had read 'Spare' or caught up with the Duchess of Sussex recently. Clara secretly liked the idea of channeling her inner Kate Middleton. The Queen of diplomacy!

 

Clara who had always been of the 'kill with kindness persuasion' had never reacted to the insensitive words of her colleague over the five years they'd worked together. Instead, she always held it together until she met her husband Toby at London Charing Cross station to jump on the train home to Wadhurst in East Sussex. They would then scramble to find a seat together; he would produce a miniature bottle of wine from Marks and Spencer and some 'posh nuts' as he liked to call them and as the screw top released, so too did the wrath she had been feeling all day. She had wished many times she had had the cojones to tell Kelly, who had grown up in Coffs Harbour, Australia to 'Far Coff', but she restrained herself. She also missed those train rides for the simple fact of having a quietish hour with her husband to vent, relax and drink a glass of wine. It’s funny the simple things you miss.

 

Elliott would sprint across the landing like he was eternally in training for the 400m but then always cautiously snuck around the door, careful not to wake Daddy and then once at his mother’s side, would tap Clara on the nose whispering 'I need the toilet mummy'.

 

Clara would then bolt up in bed, usually looking like an extra from Michael Jackson's Thriller and swiftly head to the toilet with Elliot, again careful not to wake her hubby.

 

And with that, the first sprint for the day was complete. Only four million more to go.

 

Clara would then cajole her son to get dressed rather than going back to his slumber. Her husband would take his time stirring and walk into the room in his stripey boxers. On many occasions, their son, Elliott would giggle while she wrapped his tie around his neck. ‘Look at Daddy in his stripey pink pants.’

 

‘I know, doesn’t Daddy look handsome in his pants?’ she looked up at Toby with one of her sly grins.

 

‘Where are your pajamas, Daddy?

 

'You know I don’t do pajamas; I prefer a T-shirt and pants thank you very much.'

 

Clara and Elliott would eat their bowl of porridge and blueberries listening to the letter game quiz on the commercial radio station they liked to wake up to.

 

‘That was hard mummy. I couldn’t think of a body part beginning with P.’


‘Mmm, can you think of one Daddy?’ Clara looking at Toby trying to laugh.

 

‘peen….pelvis?’

 

‘Oh yes good one.’ Elliot seemed very impressed by anything his Daddy said.

 

While Daddy took Elliot upstairs to brush his teeth, wet his curls down into a suitably smart do and turn him into a mini-me, Clara would run round the house like a contestant in a sort of supermarket sweep- style show grabbing as many items as possible thrown around the house and put in drawers that she’d completely forgotten about the day before. It’s not even 8am and I feel fecking knackered.

 

Clara did at least four runs to the car to load up and then ushered Elliott into the car.

 

Elliott would always touch Daddy and say ‘it’ before running to the car and if Daddy was quick and returned the touch, Elliott would almost growl when getting into the car. He was fiercely competitive.


Once in the car Clara would run through the list with Elliott:

 

‘Homework?’

 

‘Check’

 

‘PE Kit?’

 

‘’Check’

 

‘Water bottle?’

 

‘Check’

 

‘Sanity?’

 

‘I don’t know what that means mummy.’

 

‘Andiamo’

 

‘Andiamo Mummy’

 

Clara and Elliott would then have a chat in the car with Elliott regaling a cheeky joke one of his friends had told him.

 

‘Knock knock’

 

‘Who’s there?’

 

'A-tish'

 

‘A-tish-who?

 

‘Bless you’

 

‘Ha’


Deep and meaningful chat over. ‘Mummy, do you have the iPad?’

 

‘Yes, here you go’ as Clara swiftly removed the iPad from what felt like a Mary Poppins style bag. Wallet. check. Valium. check. Kitchen sink. check. oh yes more importantly, child entertainment. check.

 

Elliott would then watch an episode of Paw Patrol and Clara would have a moment to listen to Alanis Morrisette or Neneh Cherry to remind herself that she was once a person in her own right and not just a slave to all. Once at school Elliott would have a big stretch like he was limbering up for the day and then take his time getting his coat on. Once ready, he would run off to the school door and ring the doorbell.

 

‘Good morning, Elliott’ he was greeted by Miss Newns, the very tall teaching assistant who had recently joined the school.

 

‘Good morning, Miss Newns’ Elliot said with a slight embarrassed tone.

 

‘Have you given mummy a kiss goodbye?’

 

‘Bye mummy’ Elliott said in the same awkward tone giving his mummy a quick peck on the cheek.

 

‘Bye darling. We're looking forward to Sports Day Miss Newns. Weathers looking good for this afternoon and I'm sure you all feel the same but roll on the summer holiday!’

 

‘Indeed. They're all so tired. Such a busy couple of weeks with trips and events.’

 

As she started to leave, she heard a familiar voice. Oh no, she thought, I was hoping to dodge her this morning.

 

‘Morning Clara, Morning Miss Newns, sorry, late again, Bella didn’t sleep that well last night. She insisted on staying up till eleven PM to watch Mean Girls with me but was so keen to be in for Sports day. She’s so brilliant and competitive. Did I mention she hasn’t had any breakfast?’

 

Standard chaos thought Clara but kept it to herself. She gave Ms Newns a sympathetic look and uttered quickly ‘sorry Anna (conda) I have to dash.’

 

As she walked off, she heard the continued drivel from 'The Conda’s' mouth:

‘Oh I do admire those modern mums like Clara, holding down a career and a family. I’m just glad Trav earns so much, he can keep me in the manner to which I’m accustomed. Gosh did you hear me? I sound like a character from that Netflix film Emma.'

 

Clara was so riled by her she was tempted to head back and say, ‘Netflix didn't write Emma, you Muppet.' But she couldn't possibly say something like that. It wasn't kind and it wasn't in her nature. After all, who were the adults and who were the children?

 

Clara headed to the gym before starting work and then she’d planned to meet her mum and dad at school just after lunch for sports day. She felt a bit miffed that Toby couldn’t make it. She couldn’t count the number of school events/children’s party’s/playdates she’d been to this year without her husband by her side. It wouldn’t have bothered her but her judgy mother had phoned her that week to say:


‘He’ll regret it. Missing out on these things. He won’t get that time back. Is everything alright with you two? Your dad and I are worried that he’s going to leave you.’

 

And dutifully, Clara would always say ‘It's tricky as he can’t really get away from work.’

 

After squeezing in three challenging client calls in three hours, she headed back to school, latte in hand but dreaming of gin. She was never sure how school gatherings would go but mostly because 'The Conda' would select a victim and obliterate them especially when she had an audience. First thing in the morning it was usually,


'you’re so good to drive such a small car. You can always find a space here. I don’t know why but I just love driving my latest Porsche.’


Or


’you’re like me, barely time to brush your hair or teeth in the morning. Busy mums that we are.’ Clara would then self-consciously cover her mouth and pull a hood over her hair.

 

As Clara pulled up overlooking the rugby pitch, she took a breath. She noticed her parents’ car immediately. It was hard to miss it. She and Toby referred to it as the ‘mafia tank’. Her father had sold his book business recently and as a treat to himself had bought a top of the range Audi. Some of the more materialistic parents and there were quite a few, would comment, ‘oh it’s YOUR dad that has THE car.’

 

‘Yes, that's his car' Clara would say in a less than enthusiastic tone.

 

All visitors to the school were directed to the seating area on one side of the rugby pitch. She felt a bit ill-prepared when she saw the sea of blankets and Fortnum’s baskets. I didn’t realize it was a day at the races. Putting one foot in front of the other, she could see her parents at the end of the pitch. Dad was doing his usual routine of fiddling with a gadget; this time his camera and mum was fussing with her bag. Wait, who the feck have they invited? Oh, dear god, I recognize that ridiculous jacket. Just as well Toby didn’t come.

 

‘Hi everyone’ Clara forced an enthusiastic greeting.

 

Sounding like one of those awful Sloane types from made in Chelsea , Clara’s sister Lola turned around and said ‘oooohhhhhh hiiiiiiii’. Clara was amazed she could stand up with the huge chip that was weighing her down. She always assumed the role as the child in every setting expecting everyone to indulge her and her issues. It riled Toby no end. ‘Why can’t she be civil? She can’t be bothered to say hello to both of us but then demands access to our child.’

 

‘Hi’ Clara was trying to contain her anger at her presence. Why the feck have mum and dad invited her?

 

‘Look there’s Elliott.’ Clara’s dad pointed. And with that her sister who was dressed like something resembling a Fraggle, blue pigtails, and a pink furry jacket, got her phone out and starting papping.

 

She was waiting for the loudspeaker to announce, ‘Look everyone, this is not about your children, it’s about the other child in Clara's family.’

 

‘Well, we didn’t think it would matter. Inviting another member of team Elliott, after all with his father, not able to turn up.’

 

Here we go again.


‘As I said mum, Toby has an important case this week and he can just escape.’ Where is the pimms tent?


‘Well, some things are more important than work.’


Clara had to bite her tongue. Some of us still need to work to pay the mortgage, she had thought of adding but decided against it. She wasn’t aware of it but clearly made some disapproving growl.


‘Was that your tum dear? Do you want a crusty bap?’


‘No thanks mum. I’ll have something in a bit.’


Clara was relieved when the headmaster, Mr. Brooks joyfully announced,


'Good afternoon and welcome everyone. We’re so pleased to see you on this glorious day. Aren’t we lucky with the weather? I hope you all have a program but please see miss Fanet if not. We will start with the 400m.'


Clara felt the inner child come out of her, Miss Fanet. Hilarious. She started to smirk and caught eyes with another mum, Dani, who thank goodness was on the same wavelength as her. She headed over to her and was greeted by a huge warm hug ‘hey lovely, how are you? 


'Surviving. I should have enlisted. I feel under attack at each turn.'


'I know what you mean. I managed to dodge The Conda. She keeps asking me to go for coffee, but I'd rather stick pins in my eyes.'


'Oh, look here come Mawgan and Elliott. Go on boys! Go on!'


'Yay. Oh, look out, here she comes.'


'Hi ladies'


'Hi Anna, how are you?'


'Good thanks, Trav just called. God, he misses me so much. He's on a Russian boat at the moment. Having far too much fun. He's so clever, he just passed his exam to become Captain which means more money that I can spend. Watch out Amazon!'


'Sounds great.' Clara tried to contain herself looking at Dani.


'How's George? He's so sensitive isn't he. He'd get on with Eddie, he's very sensitive as well. Bella just isn't that fussy; she plays with everyone. Do you have a lot of friends? Do you do lots of playdates? You probably have to given that George is an only child. It's hard being an older mum, isn't it? I mean, I'm thirty-eight but can't imagine how you feel being, what forty-eight?'


'Why don't you...' with that Dani interrupted and said 'Pimm's anyone? Come and get a Pimm's Clara? Us oldies need a drink.'


'Lovely to see you guys. See you at Teddy's party on Saturday. Oh, actually I don't think you're invited.'


Ignoring the continued drivel, Clara and Dani walked off to the Pimm's tent,


'Here's to us, the forty- five-year-olds that look forty-eight!'


'Hoorah! And the women that drive small cars and don't want to be kept!'








January 27, 2024 19:09

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9 comments

Conrado Maher
13:32 Feb 04, 2024

Good stuff. Parts like the one below were particularly funny. This story reminded me of visiting a daughter that has two young children. There’s quite a routine for getting them ready for school and out the door. “ Clara would run round the house like a contestant in a sort of supermarket sweep- style show grabbing as many items as possible thrown around the house and put in drawers that she’d completely forgotten about the day before”

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03:40 Feb 03, 2024

A mother's work is never done especially with an energetic child. Well portrayed.

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Rebecca Detti
19:20 Feb 03, 2024

So true! It’s wonderful but definitely all encompassing at times! Thank you for reading and feedback, much appreciated!

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Wendy M
16:42 Jan 29, 2024

Great fun, I really enjoyed your story. I spotted a couple of items you might want to tidy before it gets judged "then once at his mother’s aide,". I think should be side not aide, & miss Fanet, cap M. Good luck with the comp.

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Rebecca Detti
19:35 Feb 03, 2024

Thanks so much Wendy and thank you for the notes, really appreciate!

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Trudy Jas
21:35 Jan 28, 2024

The quote from "Kelly" about not sleeping reminded me of what a friend told me: "You know the true meaning of ambivalence when your child writes I love you mom, with crayon on your freshly waxed floor. :-) Look forward to the end. Give Anna - conda what she deserves.

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Rebecca Detti
19:38 Feb 03, 2024

Thanks so much Trudy! It’s so true! The things you let go of. I’ve really seen that with my husband. He was completely obsessed with neatness before we had our son and now he’s definitely learnt to let go. Thank you, I was completely diplomatic with Anna but hopefully portrayed her to be a bit of a beast! Thanks for reading and your comments as ever Trudy!

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Mary Bendickson
05:42 Jan 28, 2024

Still working on it. Okay. If have time will give it another go.

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Rebecca Detti
12:01 Jan 28, 2024

thanks for the like Mary, yes hope to finish up today. Look forward to catching up on your stories shortly!

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