My early morning meeting was delayed which made me miss my interview now the train is late and I won’t arrive home until past nine o’clock. I yawn. Beside me, in the carriage, is a screaming baby whose raw sounds seem to penetrate my brain causing tension in my neck that sends shooting pains to my head.
“Molly? Where are you?” Cassie’s voice follows my cheery ringtone. I slump in my seat against the window with my mobile tucked under my chin. I had assumed that her voice might calm me but her tone is accusatory. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago. We’re going to be late.” She complains with a Sottish burr.
“I’ve had a day from hell, Cassie,” I reply. “Perhaps we could go tomorrow.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake! My day has been no better. The coffee company hasn’t delivered. I can’t work their stupid machine plus the catering company said they won’t deliver which means I will have to go there and do it all myself – and as usual – you are not here to help.”
I sigh and run my hand through my mass of curls that hang to my shoulder. We’ve had this conversation several time in the past few months and I’m tired so I speak slowly and calmly. “Cassie I agreed to set you up financially in this business. You know that my job in London is paying for it…”
“I thought you’d be here. I’ve been left to do everything. It’s impossible for one person.”
“It’s your dream Cassie. Ever since we spent the weekend in Whitstable all you wanted was to live there. All you talked about was opening a coffee shop in the pretty town. You said you would die if you didn’t live there. So you have to work it out. That’s what happens when you have your own business. It’s what people do. It’s called responsibility.”
“But you are not even interested.”
“I am interested. I’m just tired. We can talk it though when I get home – over dinner?”
“I met Sophie for tapas at lunchtime so I’m not hungry.”
“Well, I haven’t eaten all day.”
“OK I don’t feel like spending the evening in the kitchen when I’ve been in one all day.”
“It’s not a kitchen. It’s a cafe. It’s okay, I’ll get a takeaway or something.”
The baby squeals and the woman opposite me opens her shirt and takes out her breast. With its eyes closed it finds the swollen nipple and sucks greedily. I turn away and look at the lights flicking past outside the carriage, and I feel the eyes of the woman regarding me in the dark reflection of the window.
“You leave home every day before six and you are never home before seven. I never see you. And at the weekend you are always tired and not at all interested in the business,” Cassie complains.
“I am interested. It’s just that you have to make the decisions. It’s your dream. It’s what you wanted.”
“You should give up your job and work with me.”
“I work for one of the top lawyers in London. I love my job and the fact that they now want me take a seat in family law is my dream. I cannot give it all up. I’ve already sold the flat in London so that we can live in Whitstable and so you can pursue your dream…”
“It’s not just my dream – you love Whitstable too.”
“I do. It’s just a long commute everyday to London.”
“That’s up to you. That’s your choice, Molly. I told you, I think you should quit your job. We could work the cafe and be together everyday. I sometimes wonder if you love me at all…”