“Celebrate!” Lizzie did a little jig around the kitchen as she sang. Tonight she would be at the airport with Chris boarding the flight to Paris. Paris! A frisson of excitement ran through her as she imagined the buzz of the city, the energy and romance of the place. And, most of all, the art galleries! She smiled as she recalled sitting for almost an hour simply gazing at Monet’s mesmerising water-lilies when she was a student. What a trip that had been. Just her and James.
The trill of the phone summoned her back and, glancing at the display, her smile widened. “Hi Chris. Are you packed yet?”
“Mum, I’ve got something to tell you. It’s really exciting. Jenny and I have got engaged. Yesterday – on my birthday. You’ll never guess – she proposed to me!”
“Oh, Chris, how lovely – I’m so pleased for you”, as her heart gave a little lurch of loss. “Are you doing anything to celebrate?”
“We’re going off to London for a few days when I get back from Paris. I’m going to bring Jenny loads of post-cards from the galleries to inspire her. Then we’ll visit more in London. She’s so thrilled to have landed that job at the art college – everything’s happening at once!”
His excitement was palpable and Lizzie smiled even as the lurch turned to a gentle sinking sensation.
“Congratulations to you both, sweetheart. Listen, I have a better idea. Why don’t you and Jenny go off to Paris together tonight? I can ring the airport and get the ticket changed. It will be my engagement present to you.”
“Oh, Mum. You can’t do that. You were really looking forward to this.”
“No, Chris, I insist. Please. It would seem just perfect.”
“Oh, Mum, I do love you.”
When Lizzie finally pressed her finger onto the ‘End Call’ button, she sat down with a bump. “End holiday”, she said aloud to her reflection in the oven door. Reflected beside her now rueful face was the photograph of James, with brush to canvas, that hung on the kitchen wall behind her.
A tender smile returned. “But you would be so thrilled for them.”
Then picking up the phone again, she rang her friend Maisie. “Hi, Maize! What are you up to tomorrow... .”
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