The day of my birthday it was a big one. I was fifty.
My daughters and I would go shopping, our new baby in tow.
The car with the baby strapped in called for Bella, and brought her to my house. A big bunch of flowers my girls gave to me.
Bella sat in front of the car next to her sister. I sat in the back with my darling grandson for our customary birthday treat: a trip to the shopping centre.
Bella chirped up, ‘I was locked in a cell, when I was picked up for drink driving.’
Me: ‘I don’t want to hear this.’
Bella: ‘The policeman was flirting with me.’ Bella started laughing. We did not.
Married Daughter: ‘Bella! Mum doesn’t want to listen, shut up.’
Different departments we shopped, picked up this, put back that. Married Daughter tried on a pair of shoes. Bella and I sat close on chairs and waited. I could smell stale alcohol leak from her skin, a stink I was familiar with: The aroma of an alcoholic. I chastised her about her alcohol consumption, a lecture she again ignored.
Married Daughter queued to pay for chosen shoes. Bella took her chance, she had me alone, ‘Mum, I’m in debt, I have no money.’
‘Why’re you telling me?’
She shrugged her shoulders, a sulk on her face.
Another stone dropped in my stomach, sat on top of previous ones.
We moved on through the open stores, to look at sunglasses set out in a glass case. Bella saw a pair she liked, a pair she could not live without. I bought them for her, to make her happy. To ease the sickness in my heart.
It was my birthday and she had ruined it.