“I can’t do it” I whispered lifelessly, looking at my gaunt reflection in the mirror.
Meanwhile Odette was trying to fix my hair into a perfect chignon and Margot
was getting busy hiding those deep dark circles that didn’t seem willing to ever abandon me.
“Nonsense! You'll do great, Lucy! It's just a dinner!” Margot tried to reassure me while putting the third layer of concealer under my eyes.
“A dinner with my mother and her new family that I haven’t seen for six years” I reminded her trying to curb the anxiety that was gripping my stomach.
“That’s why you have to go! Show them what they missed in all this time! You need to prove them that their abandonment did nothing to you and that you came out victorious… Even better, you are stronger now” Odette tried to convince me.
“Victorious, me? Have you looked at me?”
“Yes, you are beautiful, Lucy!” Odette immediately replied with a wide smile on her face.
“I’m not beautiful! I’m tired, sleep deprived, penny less, constantly unemployed, God knows how much in debt I am and I have countless worries about Chucky’s health”
“Don’t say that! You need to look at things from a different perspective!”
“Which one?” I asked bitterly.
“For starters you look great. You even lost a few pounds”
“Thanks to a colic that kept me from eating for almost a week. Even now I haven’t fully recovered” I reminded her, thinking back to how I had been ill until five days prior.
“A colic that has made you lose enough weight to put on this wonderful body con dress by Chanel” Margot added.
“A dress I can’t even afford given I am broke” I countered depressed, sliding my trembling fingers over that wonderful emerald dress that belonged to Odette.
“It doesn’t matter. The only important thing right now is that this dress makes you look incredibly chic and shows off your eyes and your clear skin. Besides, you always said it yourself that you would never want your mother, or even worse your stepsister, to know how much you struggle economically and surely with this dress and Margot’s Louboutin, nobody will take you for a poor unlucky girl. Not counting the fact that you live in an actual mansion surrounded by hectares of garden”
Too bad reality is very different, I wanted to answer. I had ran out some grandma’s patrimony last year because of the continuous restoration works that needed to be done on that endless mansion. I had gotten some sale propositions but the idea of separating from the only thing that kept me linked to the one person that ever loved me, seemed too painful and unthinkable.
Before dying grandma, she wanted to leave me her countryside mansion, inherited from a royal blood relative. She loved that properly and for years that she did everything she could to bring it back to its old splendour, but the task was endless and every year a new issue needed solving.
Money was long gone and finding a job kept getting harder, as I struggled to keep an employment for longer than a few months.
“Besides, now you are a dentist’s secretary!” continued Odette, trying to show off my latest job I had found and started just two days prior.
“Fine, you’re right! I must not get myself down. I’m twenty-seven years old, independent woman, with a great employment, a house everyone would envy and, most importantly, two wonderful friends that I love ant who love me back”
“We will always be here for you, Lucy!” Odette encouraged me hugging me, followed immediately by Margot.
“And you also have a bunch of alpha males ready to protect you waiting in line behind that door, waiting to jump you” joked Margot giggling.
As a matter of fact, muffled whining noises came from behind the door.
In a moment I opened it and let my little furry tribe come in, that filled my life with happiness every day.
“Aramis! Byron! Lupin! Chucky!” I called joyfully as my friends stepped in front of me to stop the dogs from assaulting me and ruining the dress.
“Aramis, that dress cost me a fortune! Don’t you dare get close!” Odette warned him, trying to keep away the old Maremma shepherd that was so deaf he couldn’t hear a thing.
“You too, Byron. No point in trying to impress me” Margot followed, kneeling to pet the old dog that was dragging his hind legs with the help of a tiny kart that didn’t allow him much movement.
Only Lupin managed to squeeze through despite his wobbly stance due to a missing front leg.
“Margot, Lupin seems to like foundation” I giggled pointing how Lupin was focused on licking my entire face.
“No, Lupin! It took me an hour to put make up on her! Go away, you naughty boy!” Margot reproached him, as she had gotten herself distracted by Chucky, who was still weak because of a bronchitis he had gotten by spending days playing in the snow. He was now fourteen and he was getting sick even more often. Besides, since Cabaret, his playmate, had passed, he seemed to have let himself go to old age even more.
After Aaron’s death, having to deal with Cabaret’s as well just two months ago had been very difficult for me too. There wasn’t a day in which I didn’t look for those two big black and white dogs, always cuddly and hungry.
“You’ll keep grieving if you don’t start picking healthy and young dogs” Marie had tried telling me once, the manager of the shelter I used to spend every Christmas at picking a dog, since I was left alone. But unfortunately for me I always picked the oldest and most unfortunate dog in the shelter hoping to give them the best last days they could get.
Every time I asked her of “the dog nobody wanted”, the one that had been abandoned, thrown away like garbage because too old or sick to still get love from its own family.
The truth was I felt like them: kicked out of the house as I had no purpose anymore. I could never forget the day my mother put me at the door for not being able to get along with her new boyfriend and his daughter.
She didn't try even for a minute to understand my motives or my discomfort in suddenly finding myself put aside to make room for strangers that took away the love of the only parent I had in just a moment and that suddenly all of my things were to be shared with an intrusive and overwhelming stepsister.
But unfortunately it was always my fault in their eyes. I was the irritable one, the one pissed at everyone, the selfish one that wanted everything for herself…
Those thought hit me like a punch in my guts.
It had been eight years since then and after a first year of trying to make things up, I had understand that it was over. I could never get my family back.
It had been seven years since I had last seen or heard my mother, her husband Hubert or Nicole.
Seven years without a brief or casual encounter. That was proof of how big Paris is and of how far away I was from their reality.
Nevertheless, after all that time, now I was there, facing a mirror, getting ready to celebrate Christmas’ Eve with them, after the unexpected call from Nicole in which she let me know she wanted to start over and reunite the family.
Margot assured that it was because of that call that I had gotten ill, succumbing to an excruciating colic that lasted for days.
“Go get ‘em!” Margot and Odette encouraged me, walking with me through the driveway of the mansion I had previously cleared of snow in order to get to my small old Peugeot.