The recurring dreams of Michael’s face stopped. Yet I still saw his flawless features, carved by angels, every morning when I woke up next to him. Yes, we had moved in together. I’m not going to lie – the recent “Summer Swimwear” collection had awarded BUTCH with a lot more attention from the public and press, meaning a lot more money for me! I was shocked when I saw the increase on my monthly payslip, but Mr Butch assured me there was no error. No one had accidentally added an extra digit here or there.
Michael and I were finding it hard to decide whose house to move in to; they both had their own advantages and disadvantages. My rickety old house was bigger than Michael’s flat, but it was old and on the outskirts of town. Michael’s flat was a little smaller, but much more modern and stylish. After an extremely long and cold cup of coffee we finally decided to move into a new place altogether! We could definitely afford it and it felt so exhilarating – it was a new beginning for Michael and I together.
A pair of arms wrapped around my waist and tangled me up within them. Hot breath blew onto my neck as Michael whispered,
“Morning,” I replied, while skilfully flipping the pancakes, “Sundays are always my favourite day.”
“Why? Because you get to spend all of it with me?” That was one of the reasons but there was another:
“Well yes, but also because I get to eat pancakes for breakfast.” We laughed in unison and watched the pancakes fly for their final flip. Slap. Normally the pancakes would fall back down into the pan but this stubborn batch decided to stick onto the ceiling. “Whoops.” There was an awkward silence before we began laughing again.
“Well, since that’s the pancake side of your Sunday ruined, I guess I’ll have to make the rest of it extra special. Won’t I?” Michael smiled. I just smiled back and nodded. Reluctantly I turned to the cupboard and reached for the cereal.
I kept my eyes tightly shut as we drove to… I didn’t know where – that was the surprise. Michael had left the house early to “prepare” for the day apparently, returning with a satisfied smile. The engine stopped growling and as Michael opened my car door the smell of flowers and summer enveloped me. He guided me down a winding stony path and finally my sandals were met with the soft terrain of green grass.
“You can open your eyes now.” Slowly my eyes woke and were met with the lush greenery of Busch Gardens. Butterflies floated all around the willow trees and I was surprised to see an adorable elegant picnic awaiting my arrival.
“This definitely makes up for the pancakes.” I said, watching Michael grin. We indulged in ham sandwiches, strawberries, jam tarts and many other delightful treats.
After eating Michael produced two wine glasses and a bottle of champagne. “Wow, Michael, champagne?”
“You deserve it. We deserve it.” The clinking of our glasses sealed the deal – we were together, and as cheesy as it sounds, hopefully forever! The champagne bottle emptied slowly and as I remembered my phone call from last night my stomach turned.
“By the way Michael,” I reluctantly began, “my mother phoned the other night. She wants to meet you.” I tried to act as if it was a perfectly normal situation but already I could feel the tension attacking the peaceful air.
“Your mum? I thought you hadn’t spoken to her in years.” He replied, and he was right, I hadn’t. But she was still my mother. I didn’t really think the reason she wanted to come over was to meet Michael – I think she wanted to see me, but she would never admit that. She, like me, is too stubborn to back down after all these years. “How does she even know about us?” Michael broke my train of thought and I turned to look into his worried eyes.
“Mothers know things, and there was that article in the paper.”
“Oh yeah…” he said, embarrassed. “So, when is she coming?”
“Today.” I replied trying to sound as calm as possible. Michael’s eyes opened wide with shock and I just laughed.
The silence was growing ever more awkward as all three of us lounged in the deck chairs at the local pool, although it was anything but relaxing. I felt a little bad for making Michael sit in the middle – next to my mother, at the same time however I found it hilarious. She supposedly wanted to meet him and all she was doing was sitting there – not saying anything!
“I’m going in for a swim.” I said, trying to break the silence. With a nod from Michael and an emotionless stare from my mother I jumped in.
“So…” said Michael, weakly, “you’re Charlie’s mum.” He waited for a response but she continued gazing forward. He returned to his lounging position and suddenly she spoke:
“Yes.” Sheryl stated.
“That’s cool.” Michael nodded. He was incredibly nervous and Sheryl knew it.
“Yes it is, if you think a girl who gets drunk all the time and gets in with the wrong crowd is cool.” She tutted at her apparently atrocious daughter.
“Charlie’s not like that anymore.” Michael surprised himself with how confidently the words spurted from his lips.
“I see.” Sheryl pursed her lips and sighed. “So, when are you getting married?” Michael froze and his throat turned dry. He hesitated and just stared at his girlfriend’s mother as if she was an alien. “Well obviously you want to, you’re not in this for a one night fling are you?” she asked expectantly, after a short pause she repeated, “Are you?” raising an eyebrow and sounding worried.
“No, of course not! I don’t think we’re ready for that yet… we’ve not been together long.” Michael lied. Of course he wanted to marry this weird woman’s wonderful daughter – he was definitely ready!
“Michael, it’s been 5 and a half months and it doesn’t look as though you are going anywhere considering the smile on Charlie’s face. She’s always had a beautiful smile…” she sighed. For the first time, Michael spotted a look of sadness and motherly love in Sheryl’s eyes beneath her dark sunglasses.
“Ms Diamond, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but why do you and Charlie not… get on very well.” He quickly regretted his question as her head snapped to face his and the caring look disappeared from her icy blue eyes.
“It’s simple, she’s as stubborn as me. She disappointed me as a teenager, but I still loved her. I still do, but…”
“But what?” Michael asked, anxious to get to the bottom of this distant mother and daughter so-called relationship.
“She’s different, she’s grown up. I haven’t grown up with her, I still see her as a teenager. I missed a big part of her life, I feel like I have failed her. I don’t deserve her…” Her voice slowed and she gulped down a mouthful of sadness as she trailed off. A single teardrop rolled down her wrinkled cheek and down to her frowning lips. Charlie didn’t really talk about her mother much, and whenever Michael mentioned her mother she was quick to change the subject.
“Why don’t you talk to her? I’m sure she misses her mum as much as you miss your daughter.” Sheryl was as still as a statue, and then she nodded, slower than a snail.
“You’re right,” she smiled a little, “I think I just needed someone to tell me what I already knew. Charlie is very lucky to have you Michael. And I am very lucky to have someone like you looking after my daughter. Thank you.” He didn’t know what to say, so he just smiled gratefully. Luckily she headed off into the pool towards Charlie and Michael could finally sink into the deck chair.
Wedding bells were ringing. The sun was shining upon every joyful face that covered the grounds of the chapel. A tall, slim figure stepped out of the shadows of the church into the blinding light. Soft white silk embraced the wearer and trailed out behind, creating the perfect frame. Ravishing red locks crowned Charlie’s head and her eyes shone the brightest blue they had ever shone.
A tsunami of cold water woke Michael up from his deep sleep and he gasped with fright. There was his treasure, Charlie, laughing at him with the kindest smile residing on any human’s face.
How could an angel like this have fallen for him? He had to marry her – he had to.