4.10 The Good Moments


The good moments have a way of sneaking up on you, and you don’t notice it until it’s gone. Then you beg and plead and wish and pray that it will return, but if it does, you are one of the truly fortunate.

The bad moments on the other hand whack you in the face with a rusty drain pipe and leave you face-down on the ground.

My face-down moment happened because I got careless.

The hallway had always been deserted so I stopped being cautious. But that day, I left the study to find Mother standing outside.

Our eyes met across the yards. Both of us stood frozen. I was about to stammer out an apology, or an excuse, anything, really, but she turned and walked away without a word. I was left standing bewildered.

She said nothing during dinner. Or next breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner after that. In fact, she was exactly like before. She didn’t look at me, talk to me, or acknowledge my existence. Everything was as normal, but the weight of dread would not go away.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t tell Gem or Alistair. The fact I had access to the study was still a tightly kept secret. They knew, of course, that something was bothering me. I never did get better at hiding my feelings. In the end, I only told them half the story.

“You think you’re in trouble with Mother?” asked Gem. “Why?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said.

They didn’t seem to think it was a big deal anyway. 

“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s fine. She didn’t seem different from before,” said Gem.

“Is she ever happy, really?” said Alistair.

I hoped with all my heart that they were right. It was true that over the years, Mother had begun to ignore me more and more. One day, already years ago now, it occurred to me that I had grown taller than her. She no longer had the same sway on me as she once did. Perhaps Mother’s hostility towards me had cooled to indifference. 

“She won’t do anything when the guests are around anyway,” said Alistair, putting his hand over mine and rubbing it reassuringly. I felt myself relax, and for a moment too long we stared at each other, grinning like fools.

Gem’s gaze darted between us and he smiled, somewhat forlornly. “Why don’t I leave you two alone,” he said. We hurriedly began telling him he needn’t do that, but he walked out regardless.

The two of us, left behind, exchanged guilty looks. After a pause, Alistair cleared his throat. “Uh, well. Have you decided how we’re going to tell everyone?” 

“I don’t know,” I said. “On one hand I don’t want people to make a big deal out of it. On the other, I want people to make a huge deal out of it.”

“I’d say an engagement is a pretty big deal.”

“I’m just not sure I want everyone to make a fuss.”

“You’re right, people don’t need to do a song and dance about it, they can save it for the wedding.”

“But on the other hand, I do want everyone to jump and squeal and tell me how lucky I am to have you.”

“I’d quite like that too, except they’ll be telling me how lucky I am to have you.”


Even after all these years, these old habits raised their ugly heads. Alistair gave me the look- the special one used to banish them.

“Alright,” I conceded, “You are quite lucky to have me.” 

He smiled, satisfied.

“Remind me why you like me,” I said.

“Because you are kind, and strong, and amazing.” It was something he had told me a thousand times over, but he was still patient. “Also because you got the answer to that cat and mouse riddle immediately,” he added.

“It wasn’t that hard a riddle,” I protested, laughing as he leaned over to kiss me, safe in the knowledge that I only needed to ask and he would tell me the same thing, again, a thousand times over.

“I reckon we should just say it,” I said. “Tomorrow, after dinner. When everyone is together. No fuss.”

“Alright. Tomorrow, after dinner.”

The good moments are so small, and mundane, and often overlooked. 

But this one I cling to.

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