The redcurrant jelly slid off the spoon into the bubbling gravy. He looked over her shoulder as she stirred.
“Mmm ..” he murmured.
“Well enjoy, it’s back to veggie on week days and white meat or fish at weekends after this.”
“Yes doctor”, he concurred.
The meal was going to be indulgent, lamb and a dessert but it was Guy’s favourite and they saw him less and less because of the hours he worked. It would be worthwhile in the end. After cutting his teeth next to a world class cardiologist he would one day become a pioneer in life-saving procedures. She’d been single minded in paving the way for her son. The outcome was not in doubt.
She went upstairs to change for his arrival. She’d picked out the clothes and jewellery earlier that day – a navy linen dress and aquamarine earrings to match her ice blue eyes. Her friends told her she was lucky that her height meant she didn’t need heels to look elegant but secretly she felt that her elegance was due to a disciplined diet and understanding that less is more in matters of couture.
Headlights flashed across the lawn – he was here. She smiled to herself and waited on the landing until he was through the door.
“Dad! How are you doing you old goat?”
“Get out of the way, you daft oaf and let me see Sophie”
She rolled her eyes.
“Mother, get down here and let me rumple your perfect hair do!”
She made her way down and before she reached the last step he had swept her up.
“Guy! Put me down “. She looked over his shoulder at her husband and Sophie, both grinning. “Hello Sophie. How nice to see you again. I hope you’re both hungry, everything is ready”
“I’m starving Mum, what are we having?” said Guy.
“Oh shit Mum. I was sure I told you that Sophie is veggie now. “
“Oh Nina, please don’t worry, I’m more than happy with just the veg. He’s such an airhead sometimes”
“It’s not a problem, just give me a few minutes.” Nina swept up into the kitchen and yanked at the fridge door. She grabbed the salad tray, a block of halloumi and a jar of capers. Once the halloumi was in the pan she set about making a dressing, using a little too much mustard but what could she expect in the circumstances. And damn it to hell, the lamb would no longer be pink.
Ten minutes later they sat down to eat.
“This looks lovely, thank you Nina”. She nodded an acknowledgement and turned to her son.
“So Guy, how is Professor Ryan? I hope you’re making the most of every opportunity”.
“Old Frosty Face is much the same but the man is a wizard when he’s inside someone’s chest. He has let me take the lead a few times but only on the simple stuff.”
“But you’re keeping your options open, aren’t you Guy?” said Sophie.
Sophie and Guy exchanged a look.
“Well, we’ve been wondering about taking a year out. Medicine Sans Frontiers maybe. Sophie has always fancied teaching abroad. What do you think Dad?”
Nina sat motionless. She felt briefly unwell. The others talked about widening cultural experiences, challenges of third world medicine and the moral prerogative of ‘doing your bit’ for others. She found she had nothing to say.
Later, when she was clearing the coffee cups Guy came into the kitchen.
“Don’t be angry mum, nothing is decided? Sophie hasn’t found a project that she fancies yet and you know what she’s like, she will probably never get her head around a lack of a modern sewage system!” he joked.
Sophie again! Nina forced a small smile and went to get coats.
The following morning Sophie noticed that her suede jacket had dark stains down the back which she assumed to be water marks. Had she smelled it she would have noticed the distinct aroma of roast lamb.