As Good As It Gets?

Free As Good As It Gets? by Fiona Gibson

Book: As Good As It Gets? by Fiona Gibson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Fiona Gibson
she said she can’t possibly go. Can you please have a word with your daughter?’
    Ah, my daughter now. Technically accurate, but he never says that. ‘She’s just sensitive,’ I start, ‘and pretty nervous, I think. I’ll have a word when I get home.’
    ‘You need to,’ he declares. ‘I can’t handle this, Charlotte. I don’t know what to say to her.’
    And he thinks I do? ‘All right,’ I mutter as Frank from the factory saunters past, slugging a can of Coke. ‘Listen,’ I add, ‘I can’t do anything sitting here, can I? Try to calm her down and, whatever you do, don’t criticise her. In fact don’t comment on her appearance at all.’
    ‘What should I say then?’
    ‘Nothing. Just talk about … nothing. The weather or something.’
    ‘Oh, that’ll help. That’ll sound really natural. As you know, Rosie and I often have long discussions about cold fronts and cloud formations …’
    For crying out loud. ‘Don’t say anything then,’ I snap, watching Frank stop and light up an extremely un-Archie’s cigarette. A moment later, Dee comes out too and he offers her one from his packet. The sight of them chatting and laughing in the sunshine makes me feel extremely old and tired.
    ‘Okay then,’ Will says. ‘I won’t say another word to her. I’ll be mute .’
    ‘Sounds like a good plan,’ I growl, pulling out of the car park and hoping my husband’s mood has improved by the time I get home. After all, we’re going on a family outing.
    *
    ‘How is she now?’ I ask Will, tossing my jacket over a kitchen chair.
    He shrugs. ‘I did what you said. I haven’t attempted further communications.’ Why is he speaking like this, as if English isn’t his mother tongue?
    ‘I’ll talk to her.’ I brush past him and march up to her room. She’s had permission to leave school early today; Ollie will head over to his friend Saul’s after school. ‘Rosie, are you okay?’ I call through her bedroom door.
    ‘Yup.’ She sounds deflated.
    ‘It’s just, we’re supposed to be at the agency at four. Are you getting ready?’
    Silence.
    ‘Rosie, d’you think we could possibly have a conversation that’s not through a two-inch-thick door?’
    There’s a shuffling noise, then the door opens slowly. Will was right: inexpertly applied foundation cakes her lovely face. She’s applied smudgy black eyeliner and a ton of red lipstick. Her cheeks bear swirls of violent pink blusher, like scorch marks, and her eyes are bloodshot from crying. ‘Oh, darling.’ I bite my lip. ‘You look a bit upset.’
    ‘I am upset,’ she snivels. ‘You know what Dad said? “What’ve you done to your face?” How d’you think that made me feel?’
    Um, he had a point. ‘What he meant was—’ I start.
    ‘He’s always criticising me,’ she exclaims, which is patently untrue, ‘and on a day like this which is so important to me. Look at the state of me, Mum!’ As if Will had strapped her to a stool in the middle of Debenhams and proceeded to pile on the slap like an over-zealous Benefit counter girl.
    ‘Dad just wants what’s best for you,’ I say firmly. ‘But if it’s going to be a huge drama then maybe we should cancel this meeting …’
    ‘No!’ she wails. ‘I don’t want that, Mum. Please.’
    At a long-ago yoga class, I remember Liza telling us all about breathing through your bellybutton. It sounded bizarre, but she said it was calming and now I wish I’d learnt how to do it. ‘Okay,’ I say slowly, ‘if we’re going, then please take off your make-up and let’s get ready.’
    Rosie sighs and wipes her eyes on the sleeve of her top. Miraculously, she does tissue off most of her make-up and, after much splashing of cold water, her eyes lose some of their pinkness. ‘Hey,’ Will says as we meet in the kitchen, ‘that’s better, love. You look great.’ He does too, having swapped his usual gardening attire for a smart chambray shirt and dark jeans, accessorised with an expression of

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