My husband thought this hilarious: the college sent a letter for A level re-sit enrolment. ‘No,’ he said, ‘she’s been on a two-year coffee break. She can get a job.’
I saw an advert: two-year course for dental nurse practitioner, it paid a small salary. We sat in the back garden me and her, filled out the application form. ‘Go and post it,’ I said. ‘What me? I’ll do it later.’ Jeez. She applied for a job in the civil service simultaneously.
She was invited to interview for both, was accepted for both–Bella chose the dental hospital in the city. We were off and running.
She made new friends. Holidayed in Cyprus with a bunch of girls–came home with glandular fever–the kissing disease.
The course was halted; she was really quite ill. One night I got in bed with her to hold her. The fever abated, and she returned to the dental hospital.
I scrutinised her holiday snaps for cigarettes in ashtrays, then paired the sticks of nicotine to each girl in the picture, my daughter matched one cigarette. Her eyes looked wasted, her face shined happiness. God bless her, I thought, don’t all teenagers drink alcohol on holiday?