Two Fridays in April

Free Two Fridays in April by Roisin Meaney

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Authors: Roisin Meaney
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but—’
    ‘Estate agents sell houses. I’m asking how many you’ve sold in the past year. A dozen?’
    ‘Mo, it doesn’t work like—’
    ‘Six? Have you sold six?’
    ‘Oh, for God’s sake, if you’d let me get a—’
    ‘It’s none, isn’t it? You haven’t sold a single house in the past year, have you?’
    Daphne glares at her, feeling her face flush with anger. ‘It’s not as simple as that. You have no right—’
    ‘I’m just saying that maybe it’s time to make a change.’
    ‘
What?
But I don’t
want
a—’
    ‘And one thing you could do, one thing the two of us could do, is open up some kind of a shop. It makes perfect sense.’
    ‘How can you even—’
    ‘We already have the premises, and you have the compensation money to invest in stock. It’s the obvious thing to do.’
    Daphne looks at her in fresh disbelief. ‘Mo, you
know
I said I’d never touch that money.’
    Mo waves an impatient hand. ‘For God’s sake, what good is it to anyone gathering dust in a bank? It should be
used
, and this is the obvious thing to do with it.’
    The woman is insufferable. Daphne is rapidly running out of patience. ‘Look, even if I wanted another job, which I don’t, the last thing I’d look for is—’
    ‘But are you
happy
?’ Pushing her plate aside, planting her forearms on the table. ‘Are you
happy
?’ she repeats, staring fixedly at her daughter-in-law.
    The question stops Daphne dead. Has the woman lost her wits? ‘Happy? Of
course
I’m not happy. I’m heartbroken. How can you possibly—’
    Mo shakes her head impatiently. ‘I don’t mean
that
. I mean are you happy in your work?’
    ‘As happy as I can be right now, yes. I
love
my job.’
    A short silence falls. They hold one another’s gaze across the table, a few feet and a million miles apart, the remains of the meal nobody really wanted sitting between them. What a day, what a wretched, miserable day – but at least it’s nearly over.
    ‘Look,’ Daphne says finally, ‘I appreciate that you don’t like seeing the shop shut up. Neither do I – but your idea makes no sense. It’s one thing if
you
want to reopen it – maybe you could find people to staff it for you – but the idea of
me
being involved is absurd. I don’t know the first thing about running a shop.’
And the last person I would choose to work with is you
.
    Mo gives a snort. ‘What’s to know, apart from stocking it and keeping the accounts right and being pleasant to people?’
    ‘It can’t possibly be that—’
    ‘Anyway, you’d have to be involved – how would we afford it otherwise? And as for bringing strangers in, you can forget about that. I’d do the books, obviously – and you’d be well able to deal with the customers, if you’d only pull yourself together.’
    Pull yourself together
– possibly the most infuriating and useless phrase in the English language. As if Daphne could decide to send her grief packing, dust herself down and move on, just like that. The injustice, the heartlessness of it stings her far more than Mo’s earlier cross-examination. The last of her patience flies out the window.
    ‘For your information,’ she says levelly, ‘I’m still in mourning for your son, so pulling myself together isn’t exactly an option right now. You may have got over his death, but I haven’t.’
    Mo’s face stiffens, and Daphne is instantly remorseful. Whata horrible thing to say, like verbally slapping her. No call for that; no call, whatever the provocation.
    ‘Mo, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have—’
    And again, Mo breaks in. ‘Now you listen to me,’ she says sharply, finger jabbing on the table, swollen knuckles rising like hillocks. ‘Just you listen to me for one minute. I
know
your heart is still broken, and mine is too, believe it or not – but do you think that’s going to go away all by itself? You think you’re going to magically wake up one day and not feel sad any more? You think
time
will heal you?

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