A short-ish chapter today, to finish off the day at the zoo.
Isn’t funny how fast kids make friends sometime? Then the parents have to have this awkward conversation, playing catch up.
I hope I managed to surprise you with the previous chapter. We all knew Richie and Eve needed to talk… and now they have.
“Why is Uncle Ricky talking to Eve?” asked a sleepy voice and Maddie looked down at Tamara who was wiping the sleep off her face.
“She showed up with your friend Connor when he came to say goodbye but you were asleep,” Maddie explained and the little girl jumped off her lap and looked around.
“I want to say goodbye. Where is he?”
Maddie stood and offered a hand. “He’s over there with his mum and baby sister. Shall we go over until your uncle is done?”
“Yes, please,” Tamara said, taking her hand and following her through the crowd.
Maddie smiled at the woman who was feeding her baby as they approached her and waved a hello. She could tell the woman was concerned for her friend, just like Maddie was for hers, by the way they both kept sneaking glances at the couple by the tree.
“Hi, I’m Maddie. A friend of Richie’s.”
“Katie. Eve’s best friend.”
“Tamara woke up and wanted to say goodbye. I hope that’s okay.”
Katie nodded and Maddie say down next to her as they waited. Tamara sat next to Connor and proceeded to ask him about the lady talking to her uncle.
Connor offered her one of his biscuits before replying, “that’s my auntie Evie.”
“I know, I met her before,” the little girl said. “She came to Uncle Ricky’s house to see us after I moved from Australia. Have you been to Australia?”
“No but my dad lives there with my auntie Angie. I don’t like her.”
“My auntie Kay lives in Australia. She’s nice.”
“So how long have you known Richie?” Katie asked and Maddie had a feeling she was testing the waters.
“About five years. Let me just make things even more awkward by saying I’m Emily’s best friend.”
“Oooh. The Emily?” Katie said, looking over at Richie and Eve then back at Maddie who nodded. “You’re right. This is awkward. Even though it’s got nothing to do with either of us.”
“Tell me about it! I’m a teacher at the preschool Tamara goes to and I saw Richie yesterday for the first time in a year.”
“Eve never stood a chance, did she?”
“I’m sorry.” Maddie didn’t know what else to say.
“Well, it’s not anyone’s fault, really.”
“Still. Your friend seems like a lovely person.”
“She is. She really is. She’s the best actually. She’s always there for me and the kids. She’s been my rock ever since… ever since their father decided my sister was the one he wanted to be with.”
“Oh my god!” Maddie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What a horrible man! And with your sister?”
“I caught them the night before our wedding. I guess they were done being careful. I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s the father of her two-year-old, as well as their new baby, of course. He’s about 3 weeks younger than my Alice.” Katie looked down at her baby girl who had fallen asleep at the breast. She straightened her top and cuddled the baby closer.
“She’s gorgeous,” Maddie said and Katie looked at her with a smile.
“She is, isn’t she? Do you have kids?”
Maddie felt the familiar pang in her heart at the question. “No, not yet. But I very much want to, one day. Hopefully soon. It’s…complicated.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. I’ve had two miscarriages myself, I know it can get tricky.”
“It gets trickier when you need to find a donor, but we’ll get there.”
“Same sex couple.”
“Oh. Yes, I see how that would make it rather complicated.”
Maddie shrugged. “I have to trust it will happen, eventually.” She noticed Richie and Eve seemed to have finished their chat, if the quick hug was any indication. Maddie called out to Tamara who was playing with Connor a few metres away.
“TamTam, we’ll be going soon, sweetie!”
“But I want to play with Connor!!”
“Connor, come here please!” Katie called out and both children came running back. “I have an idea that you kids might like. How about I give Tamara’s uncle our phone number and then her mum can ring us and we can arrange a playdate sometime?”
A chorus of excited voices answered that question, making both Katie and Maddie laugh.
“What’s going on here?” Richie asked as he and Eve joined the small group and Tamara looked up at him with what to Maddie looked like stars in her eyes.
“Me and Connor are having a playdate!” was the reply and Richie looked at Maddie, confused.
“Katie, here, is going to give you her phone number to give to your sister, so the kids can have a playdate at some point,” Maddie explained.
“Oh, okay. Bec will like that, I’m sure. She keeps saying she needs to make mummy friends.” Richie turned to Eve. “Is that ok with you?” he asked and she shrugged.
“It’s nothing to do with me. Katie is free to be friends with whoever she wants. And I have nothing against your sister, I thought she was really nice that one time I met her.”
Maddie felt Katie tap her arm to get her attention.
“Told you she was the best!”