‘So, I hear you have a date tonight,’ I said, when we were in Gina’s room. ‘I’m guessing this is what the wardrobe emergency thing is all about then.’
Gina slumped down on the bed with a big sigh. She looked miserable.
‘I don’t know why I’m doing this,’ she said. ‘Jeremy left me two years ago and I haven’t been on a single date since. I rarely go out and even when I was married, we never went anywhere. We couldn’t stand to be around each other as it was. My wardrobe is full of unfashionable frumpy clothes, which hasn’t bothered me because I prefer comfort to fashion anyway. Right now, I wish I’d cared a bit more about my appearance, though. My date is going to think I’m a fat, lump.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous and anyway I’m sure we can find something,’ I said, beginning to rifle through her things whilst secretly keeping my fingers crossed. I found an emerald green tunic top and some black trousers. ‘Here, how about these for a start? We can team them with a scarf or some jewellery.’
‘I haven’t worn those trousers for donkey’s years. I think I bought them for a wedding. I’m not sure they’ll even fit me anymore.’
‘Only one way to find out,’ I said. ‘I’ll go to the loo while you try them on.’
I left the room to give Gina some privacy. I did need to go use the bathroom anyway. When I returned she was wearing the outfit. I nodded in approval. The green of the top contrasted really well with the black trousers and it set off her auburn hair. I had never noticed how beautiful the colour of her hair was.
‘Gina, you’re gorgeous,’ I said.
‘Well, these trousers are a bit tight, but I think I could alter the waist band,’ she said.
‘Your hair is amazing,’ I said, ‘but we need to tame those curls. I don’t suppose you use hair products do you?’
‘I think you already know the answer to that question, honey.’
We both giggled and then spent a few moments looking for accessories. We found a big beaded green necklace and a delicate silver bracelet, but couldn’t find the right shoes.
‘I have an idea. I’ll go and get something for your hair and see if I can find some shoes of mums for you to borrow,’ I said.
‘Oh I don’t think you should be borrowing your mums stuff,’ Gina said.
‘It’s ok, she won’t notice anyway,’ I said and then stopped dead as Gina and I realised the significance of that statement. We were both silent for a moment.
‘Is she still no better, love?’
I shook my head and Gina looked thoughtful.
‘My date tonight is a bereavement councillor, you know? Doesn’t fill me with hope for a fun filled evening of enlightening conversation,’ she said, giggling. ‘I could ask him about your mum, ‘my friend has a friend who has a problem’, that sort of thing.’
I looked up at her. ‘Would you mind? I really don’t know what to do about her. I feel helpless.’
‘Of course, I’d be happy too. At least this way I’ll get something out of the date.’
‘Don’t say that, when he sees you he’s going to be putty in your hands. You already look good but when I’ve finished with you you’re going to look amazing.’
Gina looked at me as though she didn’t believe a word I said, but I was like a dog with a bone. I raced down the stairs, shouting to Jake that I wouldn’t be long, then dashed back home to get the things I needed.
When I let myself in to the house, it was quiet and I wondered whether mum was actually there. However, when I passed the lounge I noticed that she was asleep on the sofa. My heart always dropped in to my stomach when I saw her like this, and I quickly checked her pulse. The relief I felt when I was satisfied that she was still breathing was quickly replaced by anger that she had to keep putting me through this. I preferred her when she was over protective and constantly on my back. Right now, she wouldn’t know whether I was dead or alive.
I went upstairs to find make-up and hair products, plus a few different pairs of mum’s shoes and put them all in my messenger bag. I checked on mum one more time, feeling suddenly reluctant to leave her.
‘Mum, mum,’ I said, as I bent down in front of her, shaking her lightly.
She groaned, before shifting and turning away from me. I sighed as I got up to leave and go back to Jake and Gina’s house. When I arrived, I brushed all thoughts of mum aside as I concentrated on helping Gina get ready for her date.
By the time I had finished, she was polished and preened to within an inch of her life. Her auburn hair fell around her face in beautiful natural curls and she was wearing just a hint of make-up to give her skin a soft glow. She was so nervous though and I had to shove her down the stairs. When we walked in to the kitchen, Jake almost fell off his chair.
‘Whoa!’ is all he could manage.
‘I take it by that reaction that you are speechless because you are overwhelmed by how amazing your aunt looks right now, would that be correct?’ I urged him.
‘Huh? Oh yes, that would be it,’ Jake said. I rolled my eyes and turned to Gina.
‘Seriously, you look gorgeous. You are going to knock his socks off. What is his name anyway, you haven’t even told us.’
‘It’s Malcom and he’ll be here any min…’ The doorbell interrupted her. ‘Oh my, that’s him, he’s right on time.’ Gina started flapping around in a panic.
‘Don’t worry, I’ve got this,’ Jake said, as he made his way to the door.
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