Marcie is trying her best to deal with her husband's difficult ex-wife and moody children ...
The apartment was still gleaming by the time the children came over on Friday night. Sally might be a little weird but she did a good job. Katy’s and Robert’s rooms looked wonderful and Sally had even gotten rid of those cigarette marks that Robert, who shouldn’t be smoking at his age anyway, had left on the dresser in her bedroom.
‘Hi. How’re you doing?’ called out Marcie from the front doorstep as Diana’s red Saab convertible pulled up, scattering gravel at her feet. She had always been determined, since meeting David, that she was not going to be one of those second wives who resented their husband’s first family. It made it easier, of course, that David had been divorced for a couple of years before she’d met him, so no one could accuse her of being a marriage-breaker. Not that you would think so from Diana’s frosty manner.
‘Feel like a coffee?’ she called out as the kids unloaded their gear from the trunk.
Diana stared stonily ahead, without putting down the window. She’d had her hair cut into a spiky style that made her look even harder. Sometimes Marcie would feel a frisson of panic at the fact that she was so different. How could David have ever fallen for someone like that? Had he chosen her because she was different? And if so, or even if not, what did it say about her?
‘Ask your mom if she wants to come in, can you?’ she said to Katy who was already walking past her without so much as a hello.
‘Forget it,’ said Robert, slamming the trunk. ‘She can’t stand you. Doesn’t know what Dad sees in you. Says you’re young enough to be his daughter.’
Marcie tightened her lips. The weekend always started like this when David wasn’t around. As soon as he returned from work, the kids would stop being outright hostile and be cool but polite to her.
Well, as she’d told herself enough times already, if that’s how they wanted to play it, she’d go along with their game. It was an awkward age, seventeen and thirteen. She could remember exactly how she’d felt then. On the other hand, like Virginia said, she couldn’t let them go on being impossible for ever. If only they could be awful to her in front of David, then he would do something. But when she’d started to tell him about their nasty remarks, something strange flitted over his face and her gut instinct told her not to push it. He was their father, after all.
‘I’ve made your favourite supper,’ she said, standing at the doorway as they slung their bags on to Robert’s bed. Already, there were scuff marks on the carpet – maybe cream hadn’t been such a great idea after all – even though they knew they were meant to take their shoes off. ‘Spaghetti bolognese with gluten-free pasta.’
‘Ugh,’ said Robert, making a face.
‘Come again? Last week, you said it was your favourite.’
‘Yeah, well I’ve gone off it now.’ Brazenly, he opened a packet of crisps and proceeded to eat them, one by one, openly challenging her with his eyes to say something.
Katy threw herself on the bed, her shoes still on. ‘Me, too. Can I have one of those, Robert?’
Don’t let them get the better of you. Don’t. She took a deep breath. ‘Well, I could get a gluten-free pizza out of the freezer.’