Husband and I were busy gardening. We had not heard from Laura all weekend. This was now a regular occurance.
The telephone rang. Laura: ‘Can I come and see you, with my friend? Tell you what’s going on, what has been happening with me.’
‘Sure.’ I put the phone on its cradle, and stood still for a while. I waited for my heart to reach its natural rhythm.
I told Husband of the strange request.
‘What now?’ Is all he said.
Her friend drove her car onto our drive. The passenger door opened, Laura got out, dressed in pyjamas. She looked thin, tired, and weak.
Manners forced me to make coffee for her friend, whilst my heart was bleeding, whilst I could have fallen on my knees, and begged for Laura to be her former self.
Into the conservatory they went. I followed. Husband appeared, gardening gloves still on his hands. ‘What’s the problem?’ he said to Laura. He ignored her friend.
‘Just … I’ve come with my friend to tell you what’s been happening with me.’
‘And what’s then?’ Irritation masked his fear.
‘I’ve been drinking.’
Husband said no more. He went to the garden to carry on digging. More productive would be his way of thinking.
I hung on her every word. I sat and listened to how her weekend had gone by in a blur. ‘Stop drinking,’ I said. As if it were as simple as that.
Her friend joined in. ‘I keep telling Laura, she needs to tell you the truth.’
‘What’s that then, the truth?’
‘Just about my drinking.’ Laura glared at her friend.
Laura stood, I hugged her. I could feel her thin frame. Too tight a squeeze, she would have broke in my arms.
‘Please stop drinking,’ I said, again.