It’s going to be okay. Just breathe. Keep drinking your tea. You will be okay.
They are only your in-laws. They are not wild dogs. Yes. I’ll be fine. The house is a little warm, though. Musty, maybe. I’ll open the window and let some fresh air in. The sunlight streams through onto the dining table, which is set for three. Miriam, the snob. Derek, the leery. And me.
I don’t know why Harry even set this up. He had a last-minute paint job in the village apparently. Yeah, right. He’s always hoped we’d all get on better. He poked his head into the bedroom while I was still getting dressed, dropped a cake stand on the floor and said, “the folks are dropping by, Mum loves cupcakes”, winked and headed out. Talk about husband of the year.
The cake stand is placed in the middle of the table, a perfect barrier between the in-laws and myself. The lemon cupcakes are perched on the two tiers, sprinkled with rainbow sugar strands. They’ll know I bought them. From a shop.
I slurp my tea, hearing Miriam’s thorny voice in my head, you sound like an unmannered lout. Just breathe. I better check the quiche is still in the fridge, just in case a goat climbed through the window and savaged it while my back was turned. Still there.
The clock ticks on the wall.
I pick up my tea from the wood kitchen counter, and as I take a gulp, the heavy knocker on the door thuds, and my hand jolts, spilling my tea down my shirt. No! It’s splashed all down my chest. Ah, great. The knocker bangs again. This is just great.
“Coming!” I grab a sheet of kitchen roll and dab myself, running to the door.
“My, my.” Derek’s eyes pop out at my stained lilac shirt.
“I had an accident.” I force a strained laugh. “You see…”
“Leaking nipple juice?” Derek chuckles, leaning in toward me.
“Derek, please,” Miriam cautions, her grey, fishy-coloured hair combed into a high bun. “Now, may we come in, or are we to dawdle out here all afternoon?”
“Yes, come in,” I say through gritted teeth.
We walk into the open kitchen-dining area in silence. Miriam stares at the cupcakes, then at my wet shirt, and narrows her eyes.