It is Mother’s Day and I wake up alone in the bed. George is away on business and I half expect not to get anything from the girls without him there to remind them.
The clock radio has gone off because I like to leave it on at weekends for the sheer decadence of being able to ignore its calling. People are phoning in with dedications to their mothers. There are a couple of messages from soldiers in Iraq and many more local voices all praising their dear mothers. I turn over onto my side and open my eyes. My gaze is drawn to a bag on the floor. Okay, so it’s not beautiful wrapping paper but it’s obviously intended for me. They must have sneaked in earlier and the quiet in the house seemed to indicate that they were allowing me a lie-in.
I reach down for the bag and lift it onto the duvet. I want to savour this moment, to tantalise myself. I love surprises, they know that. I slip my hand through the open end of the paper bag and my fingertips make contact with its contents. It feels like a velvet pouch, its pile stroking against the grain of my fingerprints. It’s quite a big pouch, drawn at one end. There’s no string as such but I can feel delicate threads around the top and two beads. I won’t open it yet. I don’t want to break anything; only something very delicate could demand such a perfectly seamless container so I only give a gentle squeeze in the middle. It’s mostly squashy but I can feel an intricate chain of hard pieces; probably a necklace wrapped in padding, I think.
Suddenly, my peace is shattered as the girls burst through the bedroom door, arguing.
‘Who’s she, the cat’s mother?’ one of them shouts at the other. I smile as I think how you always hear the echo of your own voice in your children’s. I know, I’ll open my present and they’ll remember what day it is again and call a truce.
I open the bag and peer inside and I realise that they have forgotten. It’s a dead mole and I scream.