“Do you happen to have anything a bit stronger Mum?” She made a face at the cup of tea I had placed before her.
“Darling, it’s barely the afternoon. My tea is very strong. Drink it. You’ll feel much better,” I replied, settling into the chair across from hers.
She was staring out the window, watching the rain fall. The lamps were lit, though the grey of the day did its best to snuff out the glow of the bulbs.
“So, why are you here?” I asked, sipping my tea tentatively.
She just looked at me, blinking.
She rolled her eyes. “I dunno, Mum. Cause I’m back in London, and I thought you’d like a chat,” she finally replied a bit saltily.
“I’m aware that you’re back in London. I signed for the packages that arrived at your flat. I do believe I asked you why, and not if you’re here.” I leaned back in my chair and crossed my ankles.
She was flustered, appearing to me as if she would cry at any moment. And she said nothing.
“I don’t understand you Mira,” I said finally.
She squeezed her eyes shut and breathed out. “Mum, I don’t mean to rude, but I may need to go out for a pack of fags if you don’t stop grilling me.”
“That would be a poor life choice, darling,” I remarked, raising an eyebrow.
She shook her head and looked away.
I leaned forward. “You said you’re here for a chat.”
Her head snapped back toward me and she was glaring. “I did say that. A chat—not a bloody browbeating.”
“My dear, I just don’t understand what in Heaven or on Earth would have moved you to leave Berlin. You gave no notice that there was trouble with Marius. In fact, you gave no notice at all that you were coming to London. I spoke with you on the phone not more than five days ago. Forgive me, but I’m absolutely confused by your presence here.”
She sighed and reached for her cup of tea. “I know you have whiskey in the cabinet,” she muttered.
“If that will help you, then by all means.” I gestured to the sideboard where the liquor was stored. Immeadiatly, she sprang to her feet and began to rummage, bottles clinking together as she searched for her poison of choice. Uncorking the bottle of bourbon, she dumped a heavy tot into her cup, the contents sloshing over the sides and down onto the saucer. I breathed deeply and said nothing.
“I’m still going for fags later,” she said after she had re-stowed the bottle and taken her place on the chair again. “That’s much better,” she added, taking an unladylike slurp of her concoction.
“Oh for Christ’s sake Mira,” I said, a bit incredulous at this point. “Pull yourself together and come off it.” I was already tired of the nonsense. “I take it you’ve made a monstrous mistake.” It was speculation, but I was nearly completely certain it was the truth— even if she wasn’t.
“You don’t know that,” she replied quietly.
“Quite right I do. You love Marius. You’ve reconnected after all these years. You were meant to. And yet, here you sit, swigging spiked tea and banging on about having a smoke.” I lifted a shoulder, daring her to contradict me.
She didn’t. She stayed quiet, as did I, and we drank our tea.
“I couldn’t take the chance on him, Mum. Not again,” she finally said.
“Now what, should I suppose, is that meant to mean?” I asked.
She leaned forward. “Look, if I tell you everything, will you reserve your judgement til I’ve had about six more of these?” she asked impatiently.
“I’d appreciate the honesty, yes.”
And so it began.