Cassie time again, following on from last week. It's the next morning, not such a good start for Saffron...
I woke the next morning to the delightful sounds of Saffron bringing up her entire digestive system. Well no doubt her digestive system stayed in place, but only due to the wonders of engineering which comprises the human body. I followed the sounds to the bathroom, dampened a washcloth and placed it on the back of Saffron’s neck. She was sitting on the floor in front of the toilet bowl, alternately groaning and retching. She had taken the precaution of pulling her hair up into a hairband which impressed me no end as I never thought of practical things like that.
“Why do I do it? I know what will happen the next day, so why do I do this to myself?” It was a wail that needed no reply, a lament all too familiar to anyone who has thought just one more drink seemed like a great idea the night before.
“The siren song of alcohol.” I dampened the cloth again and wiped her face before getting up. “Stay there, I’ll be right back.”
Saffron groaned what I believe was an affirmative as I left the bathroom. In the kitchen, dishes in the sink told me that the girls and Mark had helped themselves to breakfast. I peeked into the games room and saw them happily getting on with their Sunday.
“How’s mum?” Althea, as the oldest, took the conversational lead.
“A bit poorly this morning.”
Althea snorted. “She should know better. I am never, ever going to drink.”
I winked at her. “Good to know peanut, I’ll remind you of that when you turn 18.”
Going back into the kitchen I poured a glass of water and squeezed some lemon into it. Lemon water wasn’t going to cure her hangover, but at least would make Saffron’s mouth feel cleaner, and provided she kept it down would reduce the dehydration. Judging by the increased groaning and decreased retching I felt that it was the right time to introduce some liquid to her tormented stomach. She took it gratefully and sipped, making a face at the lemon but saying nothing.
“I’ll make a pot of tea while you take a shower.”
Closing the bathroom door behind me I went back to the kitchen and put on the kettle. Saffron’s kitchen was as familiar to me as my own, so it didn’t take long to get myself some breakfast. I had finished, done the dishes and cleaned down the bench tops before Saffron put in an appearance.
Her face had a bit of colour and her eyes brightened when she took in the tidy kitchen. I put the kettle back on, and waved the teapot at her in silent question.
“Yes, tea please.” Sinking down in a chair she continued, “And thank you for cleaning up in here.”
I shrugged. “It was no problem, the kids had put their dishes in the sink already so it didn’t take long.” I pulled a loaf of bread out of the bread bin. “Toast?”
“Yes, I think so.”
I sat quietly and sipped my tea while Saffron ate. By the time she was on her second cup of tea she looked much more like herself.
“We should take a picnic lunch to the beach. What do you think Cassie?”
Shaking my head at her recuperative powers – far greater than mine – I smiled my approval.
“Great idea Saffie! I’ve got some cakes and things in my freezer, and we can make sandwiches.”
Saffron jumped up and rummaged about in the fridge. Her voice echoed as she talked with her head still in there. “I’ve got left over chicken, and lettuce and tomatoes. And I can make some egg sandwiches too.” Standing up and closing the door she added, “And I’ll make cheese sandwiches for Emily.”
I took my cup over to the sink and rinsed it out before turning to face Saffron who was peering into her bread bin.
“How about I take Mark now and go get what food I have at home, and I’ll pick up some soft drink and juice for the kids on the way back here? And I’ll get the dogs too – I’m assuming we are taking our dogs?”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll get things organized here while you’re gone. Yes, bring the dogs, we’ll have a family outing!”
Even though we weren’t family in the traditional sense, Saffron did feel as close as a sister to me, so her statement didn’t strike me as odd. I collected Mark, who was highly excited about the outing, and we headed back home.
“What about Emmie, can she come?”
“Good idea Mark, I’ll check with Julia. Emmie’s coming today anyway so I don’t think Julia will mind dropping her off earlier.”
“Maybe Julia would like to come too mum?”
I glanced at him, before returning my attention to the road.
“That’s thoughtful Mark. I’ll ask her, but I think she will say no, just because she doesn’t know Saffron that well.”
“We should ask her to come to dinner at our house on Friday night, since we aren’t going to dad’s until Saturday.”
Again I glanced at him. “Actually I planned on talking to you and Emmie about just that later on.” I hadn’t forgotten that Julia had expressed a desire to become closer and had thought I should be the one to make the first move.
Mark smiled his satisfaction and let the subject drop. As we approached the house I saw Matt closing the gate, Barney on his lead beside him. Seeing me drive up he smiled and waited at the gate.
“You’re a lot earlier than I thought you’d be! I’ve walked the dogs this morning, and was just collecting Barney from an unscheduled visit.”
The mention of his name was enough for Barney to hang his head in shame. I looked down at him.
“Have you been a bad boy again Barney?”
Barney hung his head lower, peering up at me with heartbroken eyes. He lifted his right paw and offered it to me. I couldn’t help laughing, as I accepted his paw and shook. Convinced that was enough to get him off the hook Barney jumped to his feet and looked expectantly at Matt.
“What, you think you’re forgiven and can go back to see Pebbles and BamBam?”
Barney swung his head towards the gate, his expression eager. Matt sighed and I laughed again.
“He’s incorrigible, like his owner.”
Matt waggled his eyebrows at me. “You haven’t seen incorrigible yet.”
Feeling myself blush I focused on rummaging around in my bag for the house keys.
“We’re going to have a picnic at the beach with Saffron and the girls. Want to come Matt?”
At Marks words I stopped rummaging and looked up at Matt. He was gazing at me steadily as he replied to Mark.
“Sure would mate, I’ve got the day off today. If that’s ok Cassie?”
“Er, yes, of course Matt, we’d all love to have you along. I’m just here to get some food and grab a quick shower.” Under his gaze I had remembered my unkempt state after sleeping in my clothes. “Do you want us to pick you up? We’re going back to Saffie’s and then onto the beach.”
“Ok, I’ll bring some chips, and I’ve got grapes, and some wine?”
“Well, I shouldn’t drink since I’m driving, and I don’t think Saffie will be interested in alcohol today plus she’s driving too.” I grinned as I thought of her likely reaction to seeing a bottle of wine while she was still nursing a hangover. “But bring something for you of course.”
Matt shook his head. “Nah, I’ll just grab some soft drink. I’ll go get organized, drop by when you’re ready.”
I stood watching him walk off, until I realized that Mark was staring at me, no doubt wondering why we were standing irresolutely in front of the gate instead of going in.
“Right, let’s get organized. First of all I’ll shower and then phone Julia. You go get changed and get a few beach toys together. And could you get the dog leads and the collapsible water bowl for me too?”
“Sure mum, no worries.”
He dashed off as I opened the door, and I followed more slowly, my mind still on Matt. As I expected Julia declined to come to the beach, but accepted my invitation to dinner on Friday night. She had sounded a bit surprised at the invitation, but pleased. We were ready to go by the time she dropped an excited Emmie off, so it was not much later when arrived at the beach.
“Good, there’s an area free.” Saffron made a beeline for one of the roofed picnic areas and placed her picnic basket on the table in a gesture of ownership. It was a good position, with an unimpeded view down to the beach and a water tap close by. The kids and the dogs all rushed off while Matt helped us to carry the rest of the supplies to the table.
“You should have brought your van instead of your car, then we would have had coffee on tap and a fridge for the drinks.” Matt was opening the ice filled esky as he spoke, digging around until he found a can of coke.
“Sure, and then I’d be spending the entire afternoon serving coffee to everyone here.”
“Oh, yeah. Didn’t think of that.”
“Not to worry, I have two flasks of hot water, and there’s teabags and instant coffee.” Saffron pointed to the flasks at the end of the table.
“I might have a cup of tea later, thanks Saffron. This will do me for now.” Matt popped the ring pull on the coke and I eyed it longingly. Catching my eye he offered me the can.
I smiled my thanks and accepted it, taking a mouthful before handing it back. Matt took a drink, put the can on the table and went back to the car for the dogs’ water bowls. When he came back I asked him to go check that the kids were all ok. We were at a dog friendly beach, but five dogs could be a handful when they were excited, even our dogs.
Matt drained his can in several big mouthfuls, dropped the can in the rubbish bin nearby and wandered off. I turned to see Saffron watching me, a strange expression on her face.
“You guys act more like married people than any of the married people I know.”
I stared at her. “What?”
“You’re repeating yourself. Look what you just did. He saw you wanted his drink and gave it to you, you drank from it and gave it back. He drank from it too – no problem with saliva sharing with you two. He went and got the things from the car without you asking. You asked him to check on the kids and he went without complaint. Your body language too, you are always turned towards each other, and I bet you don’t even notice. You’re a team, partners, you were made for each other. No wonder Bev was impatient with you both, I am too!”
I was speechless, was that how we looked to others? Like a couple? I remembered my thoughts of the previous night, how I was ready to bypass love in preference for safety. I thought of the small byplay just now, so easy that I hadn’t given a thought to it until Saffron pointed it out to me. The kiss I had planted on his lips only a few weeks ago flashed into my mind, it had felt good, and right. Bev had become impatient, Saffron was impatient, probably Matt was too. And me? I was still so indecisive that I was impatient with me too.