I jerked my right elbow to remove his hand from my left breast.
“Nope. Not tonight,” I told him, pulling my book closer to my nose. A shield to prevent further attacks.
Adam rolled over onto his back with a huff, then gave me that wounded puppy look that, much like an evening on red wine, makes me want to laugh, then cry. Five years married and he wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down. I suppose I should count myself lucky. But then he hadn’t had to go through what I went through today. Unless they had started a ‘bring your kid to work’ day in the kitchen where he worked as chef.
“How comes, Lou? And don’t say a headache because I already served your spaghetti with a pinch of paracetamol in your parmesan.”
I involuntary cackled before telling him it wasn’t right to joke about that sort of thing. I’m always having to watch what I say at the school and it can take me a while to shake off that cloak. Sometimes until the following morning, when I’ll start calling the shower a twat for taking ages to produce any hot water. When that happens, I’ll use the noise of the cascading shower to bleat any more expletives wanting to hop off my tongue. By the time I’ve dried off, they’ve all been swept down the plughole.
Adam continued. “Are you sure it’s something a nice massage couldn’t help with?”
I brushed his hand away, again. “Oh my god, do you ever give up?”
“I love it when you call me ‘God’,” he grinned.
I rolled my eyes up, catching sight of a cobweb in the bedroom ceiling. I knew our cleaner had been cutting corners.
“I just had a really weird day at school. Not really in the mood. Sorry.”
“Would telling me help?”
“I’m probably not supposed to.”
His eyebrows rose up closer to his already receding hairline. It ran in his family. He’d probably just shave it all off in a year or two and then he and his brothers will pass as triplets.
I wasn’t all that interested in my book anyway, so sod it. It’d probably get out soon anyway, knowing what our community is like for gossip.
“Ugh, fine. Get comfortable.”
“Oh boy, a bedtime story!” He fluffed his pillow as though crashing cymbals while I fumbled around for my bookmark.
“So, this kid at school…we’ll call her Ariana-”
“No interruptions, please.”
“One of the other kids came over to my desk at lunch while I was marking the history homework I was supposed to have done the other night but you’d brought home those leftovers that gave me the shits (thanks again, by the way). We’ll call her Doja.”
I pinched my husband’s lips together. “Let me tell you this before I overthink it and change my mind.”
The reply was muffled, indicated concession.
“Doja came to tell me that Ariana was out in the Wendy house acting kinda funny. I still had about a dozen pieces to mark but I thought what if the kid’s having a fit or something? Doja tends to downplay things. Like when she said Harry, who we’ll call Harry, had bumped his arm falling off the climbing frame when he’d gone and broken his elbow. So she takes me by the hand and starts marching me off.
Well, turns out Ariana had gone and raided the arts and crafts supply cupboard, because clearly we don’t have the funding to give them the lunch hour excitement they obviously crave. She’d – oh god, this is so wrong – she’d gone and made herself ears out of plastic cups she’d tied to her hairband with bits of string and had pinned a white pom-pom to the back of her skirt. She was calling the Wendy house ‘her mansion’.”
“What. The. Fu-”
“I told you it was weird. Ariana was telling all her pals – she’s got quite the cult following this one, for always being a show off and drama queen – to call her Miss May. At first I thought she meant like “missed me” and that was the name of the latest game she’d invented, but nope. Oh and by the way, her shirt was lying in one corner of this ‘mansion’ and she was pressing her little chest (luckily she had a vest on) on the windows of this playhouse. One of the boys was asking me if I knew if there was bad weather coming because apparently Ariana had kept telling the others to ‘make it rain’.”
I jumped as someone appeared to have pulled the pin out of Adam, who was about to give himself a hernia laughing.
“Oh Lou,” he said between hiccups, “this is too good.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s very bad.”
“I know – for you, maybe – but for me…I…” I waited patiently for the next convulsion of laughter to leave his system. He rubbed his eyes. “Continue,” he said, in a voice trying very hard to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.
“I had to bend down and knock on the door of the house feeling like a cop come to bust up a house party and asked Ariana what was going on. You are going to love this. So, apparently Ariana’s mother was a Miss April. Actually, now I think about it, I think she’s mentioned it before but I thought it was just a weird way of letting her know her mum isn’t married and they’re on first name terms.”
I shrugged, while Adam started to vibrate from barely held in chuckling again.
“She said, ‘Mummy told me she was a very famous house bunny and one of the favourites and that men used to pay a lot to go to a house to see her with no top on’ and then starts going on about some make up palette she’s trying to save up for…Christ, kids these days, when I was her age the only palette we used was the one we’d pour oil paint on.”
“At least she’s demonstrating a good work ethic. Okay, don’t give me that look. The look that would turn a lesser man to stone.”
“So I found myself having to explain to Ariana that she should try to raise funds by…oh, I don’t know, literally any other way possible and that what her mother had done was a grown up job only grown-ups could do and, argh, it was so awkward and from now on I’m locking my door when marking bloody homework. Let some other schmuck figure out how to deal with that shit.”
“I feel honoured you shared that with me, Lou. And by the way, when is the next parent-teacher evening and can I tag along?”
I elbowed him. Then told him only if he promised not to rabbit on.