Pass The Parcel

Entry by: macdonald

25th December 2015
It's been my best birthday in years. First that lovely doctor in Harley Street this morning.
'I'm certain I can help Mrs T,' he said. 'Do you remember how it began?' So confident, so well dressed. I think it was a Rolex on his wrist. Of course I remembered jealous Jessica Raine and Rebecca Fitzsimmons.
'Two girls put one in my locker at school and I've hated their disgusting, furry bodies ever since. That way they flutter randomly. I dread one flapping into my face,getting caught in my hair.'
'How did you feel when you last saw one?' he asked.
'Terrible. In the bathroom last week. A fat evil thing, just waiting there for me. I felt sick, sweaty, shaky. My pulse was racing, my mouth dry. I couldn't breathe. I had to ring Brian to come back from the City to get rid of it.'
'CBT is the thing for you,' he said. That's some sort of magical cure, I think. Twelve sessions with him should be enough. Expensive, but Brian can afford it. Good things always come in twos and I was just leaving the doctor's office when Brian texted.
Children want to organise your party tonight.
Three years of my life I've devoted to those four, not counting Brian who behaves like a fifth most of the time. I was a fool to take them on, of course, and should have known better. My Paris bolt-hole and the Chamonix chalet aren't compensation enough for the sacrifices I've had to make. I texted back immediately.
Healthy food only. No fizzy drinks, pizza, crisps or sweets. And party games compulsory.
And they agreed! Brian denies putting them up to it. It's a triumph of sorts, I suppose. And here we are. 'Musical Chairs' was fun although Ruby spilled mineral water on my new cream suit and then Max pretended not to understand the rules of 'Simon Says'. Thinks he's too old for it now. 'Pass the Parcel' next, which has always been my favourite. Neatly folded purple tissue paper parcel as well. Max and Chloe must have been paying attention at Jack's party last year after all.
Off we go. Brian's cello sound's good.
'Don't throw the parcel, Ruby. Pass it to Chloe properly, please.'
Oh, he's stopped playing already and Max has it. This would have been the most strenuous game he'd ever played when I arrived. Never had mud on his boots or felt cold rain on his skin. Lanky and unco-ordinated like his father. He was a feral child who could barely string three words together then, didn't appear for meals but raided the fridge during the night and spent his time playing videogames involving high powered rifles and cannibal zombies. Thirteen and almost a lost cause. Oh, good. Just one sliver of sellotape to pull off. Off we go again. Brian has been practising.
Chloe has it now. She was the one most against me moving in, but now is such a changed girl because f me. I had to put up with all that hair chewing and vomiting and listen to her awful blubbering every night for six months after her mother died. Brian was worse than useless. Always been hopelessly indulgent with the girls. Perhaps losing your mother is tough, but it was ages ago for goodness sake. Time to get over it. Persuading Brian to send her and Max to boarding school was such a clever move and now they seem to be showing signs of growing up at last. Still a work in progress though. Needs to stop wasting time face-booking skyping and twittering. I'm surprised she's not texting now, passing the parcel one-handed.
Jack has it now. Pity they've run out of tissue paper. I wanted to save that thick red paper for Christmas. Oh dear. Look at his filthy fingernails. He's staring into space as usual, his mind in neutral gear.
'Are you going to take the next layer of paper off, Jack?'
As indecisive as his father. Almost ten and still lives in a fantasy world with Harry Potter, sword fights and dragons. I caught him reading a book about scavengers hunting in a graveyard the other day. He'll be boarding next year too, and not soon enough as far as I'm concerned. He need to get focussed, think for himself, make decisions , set goals and stop following the herd.
Oh, Ruby's turn. Silly as her mother was. She thinks she's won the thing already. Such an annoying child, talking nothing but gibberish to dollies all day. Called me mummy the day I moved in and Brian had promised her a puppy without any consultation, even though I have a fur allergy. I wasn't having any of it. They were all to call me Elizabeth. Needs to acquire some useful life skills that girl. Discipline and routine was what she got, not a puppy, and I've been proven right now.
Max again. I'm glad Brian had the sense to play his Cello. If Max had been responsible for the music I would hav ebeen grinding my teeth to rap or some foul mouthed rock band. He wants to be a drummer for goodness sake and was halfway to acquiring tattoos and piercings. Doubtless alcohol, drugs and a criminal recrd would have followed.
I can feel a box through the paper now. Brian is hardly paying attention, but hopefully he'll remember to stop when I get it next. This is obviously the last round. I can see the children have been conspiring together. They think I can't see the looks and winks they are giving each other. I wonder if they've actually spent some of their father's money on me. A piece of jewellery or perhaps a ticket for a few days away in a nice hotel. I certainly deserve it.
Me at last. A matchbox. I thought so. Something's rustling inside. Tissue paper probably. It's too light for a decent bracelet. Perhaps Brian's bought these diamond ear-rings I mentioned. Max has stood up and leant against the wall so he can enjoy the whole scene. Brian must have gone to light the candles on my cake.
'Aren't you going to open it, Elizabeth?'
'It's your birthday present from all of us.'
'It's a big surprise.' That was Max, then Jack then Ruby speaking, her eyes shining in anticipation, her cheeks flushed. Only Chloe, watching in that sly manner she has is quiet. Ruby is clapping her hand with excitement.
I've drawn this out as long as I can but it is a moment to treasure.
Happy Birthday to You ! It's Brian at the door. The cake does look lovely. Time to open the box. Whatever it is I'll smile as usual.
Brian's turned out the lights. Forty candles do give off a lot of light. They're all singing now.
Happy Birthday to You!
Oh, what is it? Did something move?