Claire was almost too irritated by the thinly-veiled criticism to react to the request, but not quite.
‘Have Sky? How long for? When?’ Claire could hear panic in her voice and forced herself to breathe in deeply. Once she was sure she was back in control of her emotions she said in a slow voice, ‘I start a new work assignment on 1st March, and I’ll … be on the road a lot. You know. Meeting clients.’
‘Dining out on someone else’s credit card.’ Ruth’s voice cut in.
(line 33) ‘There’s more to it than that,’ Claire responded quickly. Then, before Ruth could start the age-old argument, Claire consciously lowered her voice.
‘Tell me the day you need me to have Sky, I’ll check my diary.’
‘Well, it’s two days, actually.’ Ruth sounded embarrassed.
Thinking about minding a six-year-old for two days almost made Claire choke. She gulped down her coffee and wondered if she could use the new assignment as an excuse.
There was something in Ruth’s voice, though, that made her pause.
‘Can’t Mum take care of her? I thought Mum and Dad were the perfect grandparents?’ It seemed odd to Claire that two people had no time for their own children could go mad over someone else’s, even if they were their grandkids.
‘Er, Mum’s coming with me, to the hospital.’
Ruth’s words finally got through to Claire. ‘Just what tests are you having exactly?’
‘Weren’t you listening? You never listen to me.’
Claire almost smiled at the petulant tone in Ruth’s voice. For a moment they were twelve and fourteen again.