- Vol. 10
- Chapter 09
She had a way of deflecting attention. ‘What about you,’ she’d say, if someone edged too close. Then she’d sit, chin in hand, as they spilled out their life story. She was a good listener, I’ll give her that. Trouble is, you pour your heart out to a person then you think you know them. That’s what caught me. She never let on about Daniel, not even when Myra was talking about twins and the way they’d tune into each other.
'That’s the Disney version,' she said, gazing across the wheelie bins to the washing line. 'In real life, they might be polar opposites.'
In real life, you brush off people. That’s the way it was with us. I’d meet her dashing out the door in the morning. From time to time she’d head off with a suitcase. ‘I got to meet someone…’ she’d say, letting the words hang and we all thought there was a sugar daddy, waiting in some sleazy hotel. She never brought anyone back to the gaff. I’m guessing the damp walls and the nylon carpet would have reflected badly.
Then, the night of her leaving do, she breezed over to the karaoke machine like she couldn’t help herself. This was the local boozer mind, a concrete bunker full of G.A.A. heads and hairdressers. Myself and Myra were bricking it on the faux leather banquette, then she opened her mouth and the words poured out like honey. All around us people were craning their necks and calling for hush as she flashed red and gold under the lights. I swear the energy she was giving off sent shivers down through the spikes of my stilettos. When she finished, the room erupted, cheering, clapping, whistling. She held the glow for a few brief seconds then shrugged it off. Next day, she said we killed her stone dead with all the shots. She’d need the day in bed to recover.
When Daniel won the Grammy a couple of years later, the penny finally dropped. I mean, she was literally the head off him. At the time, I was struggling with heartburn from bending over. The woman from the drycleaners said that was a sure sign of a hairy baby. Myra said we could tell the hairy baby his mammy once lived with a bonafide rock chick, that it would be hilarious. We were laughing fit to wet ourselves, then we started thinking of the doors she could have opened, the shoulders we might have rubbed and it didn’t seem that funny anymore.
She didn’t stay in touch after she left. There was a post card from Spain where she was working for a Nature Trust. She was all right, she said, soaking the sun, doing her own thing. With a family like hers, I guess that was important. I have the card stashed away with a beer mat from the night in the pub. There’s a picture of a chameleon on the front.