I would like to thank Randi for her editorial genius and story assistance.
All sexual participants are over 18.
The ring on the doorbell was unexpected; it woke me from a moment of hazy sleep. “Mummy, somebody’s at the door,” ny cheeky little daughter Ginnie yelled as she tugged on my dress.
“Yeah sweetheart, I heard.”
It had been a long day, work was tiring enough but grading papers was boring as hell.
I dragged myself up and walked to the door. Opening it cautiously, I found a couple of police officers standing anxiously staring back at me.
The male officer said softly, “Are you Mrs. Dunstan? Mrs. Nadine Dunstan?”
“Yes,” I muttered, grabbing the door frame for support, a dreaded fear tugging at me.
“Your husband is Mr. Bradley Dunstan?”
“Yes.” I felt my knees tremble, my heart rate raced. I could see the look in his eye.
He looked past me, peering inside. “Is there somebody inside with you now?”
“Just my daughter. Why?”
I watched anxiously as he moved nervously from foot to foot. “Is there somebody you could get to come over? A neighbour, a friend, or something?”
Now I was really getting scared. “No, not right now, please, you’re scaring me. Just tell me.”
The two officers exchanged nervous glances, before he said haltingly. “I’m sorry to inform you, your husband was involved in a car accident over on Hutchinson about an hour ago.”
The female officer rushed forward and slipped her arm under mine to help support me. I could feel the door frame splintering under the crushing grasp of my fingers. “Is he all right?”
“Ma’am I am afraid he has passed away. He died at the scene.”
“Nnnnnnoooooo,” I screamed.
Suddenly the door no longer held me up. I couldn’t see, darkness overwhelmed me.
When my eyes opened, heavy and murky, the bright lights stunned me. I glanced around, my eyes moving slowly. Why was I in a hospital? My mother sat beside me, her hand clasping mine. As I opened my eyes, I ran my tongue over my lips; they felt dry, chafed.
Suddenly my mother wrapped me in her arms. “Oh god, Nadine, you’re awake.”
“Could you get me a drink please, Mum?” I mumbled drowsily.
She quickly searched, found a plastic cup and ran to get me a drink. As she came scooting back into the room, a nurse followed her.
She walked up with her note pad. “Good to see you’re back with us Mrs. Dunstan. How are you feeling?”
I sat up enough to take a drink from the cup Mum held. It was then I noticed the drip in my arm.
“What happened? Why am I here?”
The nurse and Mum exchanged anxious glances before Mum grabbed my hand grasping it tightly “Do you remember anything, Love?”
I tried to get my mind to focus, something, it was fuzzy but I seemed to remember police. “I don’t know. police, something about Brad.”
Then it hit me. “Brad, a car accident.”
Mum nodded. “Yes, sweetie, do you remember about the accident?”
“Where’s Ginnie, Mum?
“She’s with your father, dear. They’re at our place. Don’t worry, he will take good care of her. You know how much she loves Grandpa.”
“Is Brad okay? Is he going to be all right?”
I felt her warm soft hands squeezing mine. “Honey, he died, the car accident. Sweetie, he’s dead.”
I remembered, the police. “No, no, Mum, it must be a mistake. He has to be okay. I can’t be a solo mum. What about Ginnie?” I wanted to stay strong, but the tears flowed strongly.
“Nadine, It’s going to be okay. Everything will be fine. We will help, you know we will.”
The world started spinning again, I couldn’t see clearly, my eyes filled with tears, stinging painful tears. My side hurt as my body shuddered, wracked with sobs I couldn’t hold back.
I threw my arms around Mum, holding on for dear life. “Brad, how did it happen?”
“Honey, it was just a stupid accident. Some idiot tried to overtake a truck, the truck swerved, the driver lost control and crashed into Brad’s car. Honey, he wouldn’t have known anything about it. If it’s any solace, it was instantaneous.”
Why couldn’t I stop crying? A doctor came in and the next thing I knew darkness sucked me back into the murky darkness of despair.
The funeral was a wet rainy day, umbrellas of all colours brightened a solemn occasion. There were tears. I remember falling over on the wet slushy grass. Endless hugs, people, some I didn’t even know. Continuous endless condolences. “Sorry for your loss.” “Brad was such a loved and respected man, he will be missed.” “Call me if you need something.” On and on it went.
Mum and Dad organised everything, even the wake. The house full of people, inexhaustible plates of food. I walked from condolence to consoling hug in a daze. All I wanted was them gone. Please, god, I preyed, “Just let it be over.”
Finally it was, the house was empty, just Ginnie and me.
I walked around for days, a constant blur. Mum was amazing, she was there every day. She wiped my eyes, she held me in her arms. She held us both, because the more I cried the more Ginnie cried. She was only six, izmit escort she didn’t know, she didn’t understand. She kept asking. “When’s Daddy coming home?”
That was the hardest bit. “Sweetheart, he’s not coming home. Daddies in heaven.”
She cried, I cried. It was hell.
Slowly the fog lifted. I went back to school, Ginnie went back to school and we started to find our way in the world. School, supermarket, home. That was my routine. At first people came every day to visit, to see if I needed anything. Trays of food flowed through the door. Parcels were left at the door. Slowly, as the days drifted by, they stopped coming. Nobody wants to visit with a whiny tearful widow.
Christ, a widow. I was only 32.
The pressures of the world quickly started to catch up with me. Yes, Brad and I had life insurance, but we were young, it wasn’t really enough.
Mum and Dad helped out where they could, but they were retired, they weren’t wealthy. Brad’s parents were not much help. They lived at the other end of the country and they definitely weren’t wealthy.
The insurance money helped, but as I took stock, I sat at the kitchen table, the stack of bills piled up. What could we do without? Newspapers, gone. Sky TV, gone. Sunday lunches with the girls, gone. Magazines, gone. Chocolates… no, oh hell no. They were essential, they were staying.
Slowly, I whittled the pile down until it was almost achievable. Ginnie came in and saw me, head in hands sobbing softly. “Don’t cry Mummy, it will be okay.”
Opening my arms, I welcomed her onto my lap. “Of course it will, sweetie. It’s going to be fine.”
Her wet cheeks pressed against mine. “Mummy, I could deliver papers, Billie does, and he gets paid lots. I could help out.”
I laughed, hugged her tighter. “Thank you baby, but we’ll get by. It wouldn’t be fair to steal Billie’s job.”
Shopping, god I hated it. When Brad was alive, I used to buy whatever I wanted, now I walked around with my little list and I sought out the cheapest brands, the supermarket brands. There were no treats, Okay, there was chocolate, but that’s not really a treat. It’s a necessity.
Sitting with Mum one weekend, Ginnie played with her Barbie dolls, we drank coffee, enjoying the chocolate chip cookies she brought with her, it was Mum’s idea.
“Honey, what about taking in a border, a lodger? I know rents are expensive here in town. I’m sure if you advertised you could find somebody?”
Shaken, I spluttered. “God no, I could end up with some psycho a child molester or something.”
“Honey, it doesn’t have to be a man. There must be women, or girls in the same boat. Think about it.”
Mum left later and Ginnie and I made her favourite chicken tenders for dinner. God I had become so damn lazy since Brad died. Everything seemed a chore: cooking, the gardens were a mess. I just couldn’t get motivated.
I put Mum’s suggestion out of my head, thought no more about it. That is, until I walked past the school noticeboard. There, pinned up in the corner, was a notice. “Student teacher looking for accommodation, can pay up to $250 a week.” Shit, $250. Oh my god, that would mean so much. Car insurance, rates.
I took down the notice. Walking into the admin office I asked. “Good morning Alice, do you know who pinned this on the notice board?”
Alice took it from my hand. “Oh, this is from a young female student teacher who is working at Tatterfield School.”
“Do you know her, Alice? Did she say anything?”
“No, honey, I have never seen her before. She came over here because she had no luck at Tats.”
“Thanks, Alice,” I mumbled casually as I walked out. “I wonder what she’s like? Maybe she’d be a bitch?” Ginnie might hate her. I put the note in my purse and went back to class. All afternoon I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Maybe it would be nice to have an adult to talk to in the evenings. Somebody to cook for, maybe it would drag me out of my funk.
I sat in my car, with the note in my hand. Should I? In the end I decided to call. “Hello, is this Ray?”
This sweet syrupy chirpy voice answered. “Yo, Ray speaking.”
“Oh, hello, my name is Nadine, I saw your note posted on our school noticeboard. You’re looking for accommodation?”
Her voice suddenly went up an octave, excited. “Yeah, that’s right.”
“Look, I don’t know if you’re interested, but I might have something.”
“Rad. Can I come over and see?”
“Yes, it’s only a room and board. Is that something you might be interested in?”
“Choice. Yeah, that’d be great.”
“All right then. What about you come over for dinner tonight? I do have to warn you. I have young daughter.”
Her voice trilled. “Hey, no worries, babe, I love kids.”
I picked up Ginnie from Mum’s. As we drove home, I asked, “How would you feel about having a young girl live with us for a while?”
“Like a sister?” she buzzed happily.
I chuckled, ruffling her hair. “Yes, I suppose so.”
“Is she older than me?”
“Yes honey, more like my age, she is a big girl.”
At izmit anal yapan escort home I issued the instructions. “Sweetheart, tonight I need you to help mummy. Could you pick up all your toys and put them away while I get dinner?”
Deep soulful sigh. “Yes, Mummy, I suppose so.”
This was the first time I stood staring into the fridge looking for something to cook for months. I was sick of chicken tenders. I found some frozen fish, everybody likes fish, right?
As it thawed, I found a tub of coleslaw, some frozen chips. Oh god, I wasn’t going to impress anybody with this. She would probably laugh in my face.
As it cooked, I went to the bathroom and peered into the mirror. I hadn’t worn makeup since Brad…
The thought caused my eyes to water. Be strong, we need this. I dabbed some powder on, ran some lipstick around and even a little mascara. I wasn’t going to win any beauty prizes, but it was better. It made me feel human, like I had purpose.
I finished preparing dinner and helped Ginnie put away her toys. Bless her, she tried, but for every one she put away, she dragged another out.
I was just about ready to serve when I heard the zing of what sounded like a motorbike or something.
The doorbell rang. I pulled open the door, my heart in my mouth. I hated the sound of that damn doorbell. It never brought good news.
“Hi, I’m Ray.”
Standing in front of me was a cute little girl. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-two, at most. She had short frizzy bright red hair, huge almond eyes and the darkest chocolate coloured skin. Her lips were a luscious deep juicy succulent red.
She had three earrings in each ear. She wore nothing more than a tank top and skintight jeans, ripped and torn. Very trendy, I suppose.
I watched as her eyes ran up and down my body; she appraised me as I had her.
I felt old and frumpy. I was never that into fashion, I liked to look nice, but recently with no money to spare, I had nothing. Everything I owned was old. I was instantly envious. She looked so young, so interesting, and damn it, absolutely stunning.
Just then I felt Ginnie push past me. “Hello, I’m Ginnie.”
Ray glanced down and a big smile swept her face. “Hey there, luscious. I’m Ray. What you got in your hand?”
Ginnie happily replied, “This is my dolly, her name’s Cleo.”
Ray knelt down and opened her arms. “Can I get a hug with you and Cleo?”
Ginnie is no shy retiring little girl. She walked straight into Ray’s open arms and they shared a big hug.
I stepped back inside. “I’m Nadine. Come on inside. I just made dinner.”
Ray carried Ginnie in and I shut the door behind them. “Sorry, dinner isn’t going to be much. Do you like fish?”
She smiled and nodded slowly as she put Ginnie down. “Love it.”
We sat at the table and I dished up the food, with embarrassment. Ginnie sat in the middle and started her interrogation. Ray laughed and giggled at all Ginnie’s questions. Right up until, “Are you going to be living with us now?”
Ray gave me a questioning look. “I don’t know sweetie, that will be up to your Mummy.”
“Is she Mummy, is she?” Ginnie chirped like a happy-go-lucky humming bird.
“We’ll see, baby.”
As we ate, Ray asked some questions as well. “Is there a Mr. of the house?”
Ginnie spat out, “Daddy’s in heaven.”
Ray glanced at me as she reached for Ginnie’s hand. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I dropped my knife and fork to grab a napkin. “Sorry, it’s all still a bit raw. He has only been gone six months.”
“Sorry, Nadine, I really am.” She said in that sweet-sing song voice.
Ginnie climbed down, came and jumped into my lap. “It will be okay, Mummy.”
I looked at Ray and she had a tear in her eye.
“Ray, if you want the room, it’s yours.”
She nodded slowly, her face full of sympathy. “Thanks, which room?”
Ginnie jumped down, ran and grabbed her hand. “Come on, I will show you.”
Ginnie dragged her up the hallway and I followed along. Ray looked around the room holding Ginnie’s hand.
“Sorry, It’s not much.”
“It’s fine, a million times better than where I’m staying now. Do you have Wi Fi?”
She nodded. “The rent, does it cover food and electricity and stuff?”
I nodded again. She frowned. “Can I use the laundry?”
“Yes, I can do your laundry.”
We went back out and sat in the lounge. Ginnie went off to play with her doll’s. “So you’re a student teacher?”
“Yep, first year. Tats is my first posting. What about you? How did you see my note?”
“I’m a teacher, as well. Maths actually.”
She looked impressed. “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened to your husband?”
“Car accident.” The words brought back the tears and Ray leaned over to hold me. “Shit, I’m sorry Nadine. I should have kept my mouth shut.”
“No, it’s my fault, I just need to get over this silliness.”
“I’ll make a drink, tea, or coffee?”
“Yes, coffee for me, please.”
We talked schools izmit yabancı escort and general stuff. As I took her empty cup she asked. “Would you mind if I had a friend stay over, occasionally?”
That shook me. I hadn’t even considered it. “Ummmm, yes, I suppose that would be fine. So long as Ginnie wasn’t disturbed.” God, did she mean guys staying over. She seemed so sweet and innocent. I couldn’t imagine her having sex. That just seemed wrong.
She smiled reassuringly. “I wouldn’t hurt Ginnie. She is to cute.”
“It’s okay, I just hadn’t considered it. This was my mother’s idea. Truthfully, I need the money. Us teachers don’t get paid much.”
Ray raised her eyebrows in disgust. “You can say that again.”
“Is it too much? I could lower it if it’s too much.”
No, it’s fine. I pay more than that at the camping ground where I’m staying, and that’s without food, and the crappy Wi Fi is slow as.”
She hung around for a while as we got to know each other a little. In the end, she said. “If you’re happy, I would love to take the room. When could I move in?”
“Tomorrow if you want.”
We walked out to the door and she gave me a hug before she pulled on her helmet and zoomed off on her bright yellow scooter.
That’s how I got my new border.
“Ray’s pretty, isn’t she Mummy?” Ginnie blurted out as I read her a bed time story.
“Yes, honey, she is very pretty.”
“How come her skin is so black? Did she get sunburned?”
“No sweetie, some people have different skin colours, we have talked about this.”
“I like it, I like her, is she going to stay with us?”
“Yes, Honey, she is moving in tomorrow.”
Ray moving in was a test. It was wonderful, and yet trying. In the morning she used the bathroom when I wanted to. I had to wait, or get up early and beat her to it. Unlike me, she didn’t care if I was in the shower, she just walked in and brushed her teeth. She walked around semi-naked. I guess we came from different times, different environments. She was young and free. I was, god what was I? Waiting for death. That’s what it felt like sometimes. If it wasn’t for Ginnie…
It embarrassed me the first time. I didn’t know she was there. I stepped out of the shower, reached for my towel, with water still in my eyes. As I reached for the towel, my hand touched her. I jumped, completely startled.
She laughed. “Here you go, babe,” she said, passing me the towel. I stood there traumatised, naked, embarrassed. She just laughed and walked out. I don’t think she realised how her seeing me naked made me feel.
In other ways, she was a dream come true. She loved Ginnie and liked nothing better than lying on the carpet in the lounge, playing with her.
Ginnie, for her part, was in love. Ray was like her big sister; they cuddled, wrestled and Ray replaced me at bedtime. Ginnie always asked, “Can Ray read to me tonight, Mummy?”
It did give me free time. I should have been happy, and I suppose I was, but seeing them together and me being usurped, tugged tellingly at my heart strings.
Ray knew no boundaries. She walked into my bedroom like it was no big deal, regardless of what I was doing. I lost my privacy. Partially dressed, or even naked, she just walked in. Sometimes, I think she enjoyed my embarrassment.
Other things as well changed. Seeing her walking around in clothes that barely covered her body shocked me. Okay, we came from different times, and backgrounds. My family was from a rural farming community. People respected privacy. Even at University we didn’t just walk in on each other. We respected boundaries.
Ray just ignored all social conventions. She didn’t care.
She was a startlingly beautiful young girl. I was envious of her perfect flawless chocolate-coloured skin, her perky little boobs, a face so youthful and full that no makeup was required.
It certainly made me look in the mirror and squeeze my chubby cheeks, loose skin, thin lips. Damn she was pretty.
I eventually tackled her about the shower. I’m not big on confrontation. I hate it. It took me a month to dig up the nerve.
“Ray, can we talk about the bathroom?”
“Sure can, Nay.” That was another thing. She shortened my name. Nobody, and I mean nobody, called me that.
“Well, I just wanted to say, could we not walk in when either of us is in there. It embarrasses me.”
She looked confused, disconcerted. “Sorry, babe, but honestly. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You are one smoking hot babe.”
I felt my face redden, my whole body blushed, my pulse raced. I had to turn away.
She laughed softly. “Hey, babe, don’t be embarrassed, you’re a hottie. Sorry, I will stay out in future.”
“Thanks, Ray,” I spluttered, trying to hide my discomfort.
There were other things that irked. She never cooked. Maybe she felt because she paid me money, I was expected to do all the cooking. I had hoped that she might help out, but she either played with Ginnie, or went to her room to study.
We got along most times, I wondered why I never heard her talk about boys, or I never saw her with any. After asking if she could have a friend stay over, I expected to see a couple of boys. As beautiful as she was, she must have hundreds chasing her. Maybe she went to their places. Maybe she just wasn’t interested.