After a while, life began to settle into a pattern for Bob and Betty... an eratic pattern. Betty's unsociable work hours meant that they had very little time together. Bob's Architecture and Interior Design business was slowly taking off, and required a great deal of his attention too. So much so, that Betty abandoned her own home and took to spending more time at Bob's. Which was okay when his parents weren't around, but Betty got the distinct impression that Robert and Mags Newbie didn't think she was good enough for their *Darling Boy*.
Thankfully they had no idea what their *Darling Boy* got up to behind closed doors... or rather, they decided to pretend that Bobby Boy hadn't shacked up in his bedroom with Fatima Simovitch's daughter... he was simply entertaining a close friend and she occasionally stayed the night. Purely platonic, of course.
After a very short while it all started to wear a bit thin. Betty was either running late for work, having stayed home just a few minutes too long to see Bob when he finished for the day...
... or she was too damn tired to go home and cook and was living on a diet of fast food and milkshakes. Things were running out of control, and usually this would be where Betty took off for pastures new to have a little alone time and rethink where her life was heading...
...this time, she went to visit her parents in the brief hope that she could raid their fridge and take home something slightly more edible than the curled up at the corners PB & J sandwich that was currently sitting in her own fridge waiting for her to sign it's death warrant.
Betty had initially thought that Fatima would take pity on her and make her little girl an omlette, but Betty had forgotten (God alone knows how), that Fatima just wasn't that sort of mum. After making her own dinner, Betty slumped down at her parents kitchen table - face hovering bare inches above her meal - and promptly burst into tears.
Fatima nearly fell off of her own seat in shock. She grabbed for Vadim's hand and mouthed the words "What do we do?"
Vad mouthed back "What do you mean - 'What do we do?' - I don't know what we do! " He was as shocked as Fatima. Betty didn't *do* tears. Betty did tantrums. Fatima style tantrums. With knobs on.
Betty sniffed and wiped her face with her hand... "I can hear your lips smacking together, mum."
"That was your father."
"- not now Vad." Fatima reached across the table and tilted her daughters chin up until she could look into her eyes. "You have snot on your chin."
"Wow, mum. That was deep."
Vad stepped in before Fatty could respond . "Don't be facetious young lady. We're worried about you. What's going on? Is it Bob? Is it your job? Do you need some money? Are you ill? My God you're not pregant are you??? When's it due? Is he going to marry you? I've got a shot gun somewhere..." Vad was positively frantic, having talked himself into becoming a loan shark, a nurse, a grandparent and a murderer in split seconds. He got up and stalked around the kitchen table muttering under his breath.
Betty saw the funny side and started to giggle. Vad stopped circling the table and sat back down, slightly sheepish but still trying to remember where he kept his bullets.
"I'm not pregnant, dad. Just worn out... and a bit lonely."
"But what about Bob? Are you not seeing him anymore?"
" I am, it's just a bit difficult with the hours that we keep." she sighed. "I'm exhausted all the time. I'm not eating or sleeping properly, and any time we spend together is at his parents house... and I don't think they like me."
"Huh!" Fatty snorted "More likely that Mags Newbie is just jealous. She never did like the fact that your father chose me."
"Beg pardon?" Betty sat up a little straighter. This was a story she hadn't heard. She threw a questioning look at her father, who waved a resigned hand in her mothers direction.
"Well, go on then Fatty. Tell her."
"Nothing to tell, really... your father had taken Mags out on a couple of dates. Then he met me, and the rest is history. " Fatty shrugged a smug shrug. "She married that jumped up little fart, Robert Newbie on the rebound." Fatty patted her hair and preened a little. Then turned to Vad and smiled a smile of deep and abiding affection.
It was then that Betty knew what had really brought her to her parents house. It wasn't food. It was them. She missed them...
That night, Betty took home far more than a slightly soggy omlette, wrapped up in grease proof paper. She asked her parents if perhaps they'd like to come stay for a while, just for a change of scenery, of course. They smiled a knowing smile, and said yes.
It wasn't long after her parents had moved in *cough*... come to stay for a very short while... that Fatty broached the subject of retirement with Vadim. Betty nearly chocked on her pancakes. It was all very well having them to come home to, but she'd never considered what it would be like to have either one of them underfoot permanently. They'd always been quite active people, with either their jobs or their various friends and hobbies. Betty really wasn't sure that her father should stop clocking in at work, not just yet.
Thankfully, Vad agreed.
But Fatty had had a reason for bringing the subject up in the first place...
... she spent the rest of that morning checking for wrinkles. She pulled her hair tight against her head and stretched her skin to the point where her eyes were slits and she could barely see her own reflection... though her skin did appear a little smoother. She poked her tongue out at herself and briefly considered looking for a hairbrush to sing into... then she rested her forehead against the cool surface of the mirror in resigned defeat... "It's no good Fatty, " she said to the empty room. "You can't escape what day it is today."
Suddenly she realised what a sad figure she must cut, all limp and lonesome and talking to herself, so straightening her shoulders, she fluffed her hair, blew herself a kiss and headed out the door to work... "Not bad though, Fatty.... not bad at all."
Later that same evening, just before 6pm - Fatty checked the house to make sure that Vad was otherwise occupied and that Betty had yet to return from work... then she removed the Birthday Cake that she'd purchased from it's box. She knew that if she just hung on a little longer, that the Birthday Sparkles would happen without the cake... but Fatty wasn't the type of person that life just happened to. Fatty happened to life, and life just had to live with it.
"Okay... lets do this... " Fatty lit the candles, took a deep breath... closed her eyes and wishing for eternal youth, she leant forwards and blew...
When the sparkles had finished, Vadim stepped into the room from where he'd been standing in the entranceway, quietly watching his wife's battle with the thought of becoming an elder.
Fatty stood with her eyes still shut, but she must have heard him come in because she held out a hand in his general direction. He grasped it and moved to stand in front of her.
"How bad is it?" she asked in barely a whisper.
Vad struggled to keep his calm composure... "Oh, it's... it's... ummm..." a noise somewhere between a whistle and a whimper escaped him "... terrible. MMhhmmmvvvmm..."
Fatty opened her eyes and poked him in the chest. Hard. "Are you laughing at me?"
"I'm trying very hard not to, my love, " he snorted.
"You are! You're laughing at me! Why is this funny? I don't want to be old! Old is for... is for... it's for the elderly. I am NOT elderly!"
Vad enfolded both of her hands in his, before she took another swipe at him. "You'll never be old, Fatty." He kissed each of her palms in turn. "I wasn't laughing at how you look, I was enjoying who you are... and you're beautiful."
Fatty sent him a coy look from under her lashes then leaned across and kissed him. "I knew I married you for more than your thick head of hair," she teased. Then releasing her hands from his she strolled from the room, pausing only long enough to throw an invitation over her shoulder. "Are you coming or not? I feel the need to relive my wedding night!"
Vad didn't need asking twice.
Being an Elder suited Fatty more than she'd expected - though neither her nor Vad retired from work immediately. They'd discussed it briefly, but both were of the opinion that they'd get bored rather quickly at the moment. There was time enough for slowing down, when their bodies were no longer up to the pace.
Betty absolutely loved the quiet evenings spent with her parents. Her job was all noise and music and she looked forwards to these moments when she could wind down before bed. Her relationship with Bob had slowed down a little - they saw each other on the weekends and spoke every day on the phone. It suited them both for the time being...
... neither of them were aware that Fatty had a sudden yen for grandchildren, and that a little gentle scheming was going on in the background...
"Fatty... tell me again why we're sitting in the churchyard, at night, getting wet bums and very possibly piles."
"We're stargazing, Vad."
"No, the bit before the stargazing... tell me that bit again."
"We're planning a wedding."
"Couldn't we have done that at home?"
"No dear, we needed to see if this would be an appropriate venue for our daughter to get married in."
"I'm sure there are brochures..."
"Yes, but Betty would have seen them."
"But it's Betty's wedding, "Vad was genuinely confused. "Surely she should pick her own venue.. and besides, Bob hasn't asked her to marry him yet!"
"No, and he's never likely to. That boy needs a bloody good kick up the backside when it comes to making the first move."
"So why are we planning a wedding for them?"
"Grandchildren???" he scratched at his bald spot and wandered if Fatty was a pickle short of a sandwich. " I don't follow."
Fatty reached across and patted his hand in sympathy. "You will dear. You will."
To be Continued