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Nobody Gets Everything

Rosie was facing a dilemma;  counting her blessings and finding just one thing for which to be ungrateful.   Why was there always this fly in the ointment?  One  tiny little apple which spoilt the whole bunch.  Why oh why?  She had found true love again, and amazingly, for the second time in her not-too-long life.  The first she had lost, however, to premature death owing to the ravages of cancer; the second she looked likely to lose because of the capriciousness of a certain little madam!  Whatever the outcome, someone was going to be crying, that was for sure!

Finding Am had been like the most amazing miracle!  How much they had in common was unbelievable!  Both citizens of the same country, the United Kingdom;  the children of  foreign  emigrants, he Sudanese and she Irish.  They both belonged to the same religious denomination; not that either one was a fanatical adherant, but there was no denying that it made things so much easier.  Both had been successfully and happily married before, and both had experienced the pain of watching their partner drift away in an hospice-induced cocktail haze - which obviously was preferable to a non-hospice induced agonised end - but still - medicine may dull pain to an ache, but the ache still nags.  Certainly life before the hospice must have been horrible for cancer sufferers and their families.  And yes - their partners had died within days of each other in the same hospice - and they were both juggling careers and single parenthood, with daughters in the same class at the same school.  Couldn't be more perfect, could it?

Oh, it could!  Rosie could see one insurmountable problem which refused to budge.  And no, it wasn't the fact that theirs was a mixed-race relationship.  Living as they both had, all their lives, in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, they weren't going to let the fact that she was white and he was black bother them.  No, it was far more complex than that.  Yes!  It was the fact that they could not find a way to bring their two daughters together in a blended family.  The two girls couldn't stand each other.  The more the parents  tried to bring them together, the more they seemed to resist.  Period.

Rosie wasn't really clear about when she had started to hear Emma talking about Tania John.  Emma talked a lot about nothing in particular.  But she was very much aware of Emma's remarks about Tania when she, Rosie, had started seeing Tania's father in  earnest.  How had they met.? Well, it was, of all things, at a parent/teacher meeting.  They had been looking at each other and wondering how each found the other so familiar.  Eventually, the light had  dawned.  They went somewhere for coffee  and started chatting.  An hour later, they were still talking, neither could seem to get enough of the other's company.  Neither of them was keen to let their child know of their relationship until it was quite an established thing.  They made do with breakfast and lunch meetings.  She, making the most of the flexible hours her local government job afforded, and he, being his own boss and answerable to no-one for his time.  An odd Friday night out if they could persuade their parents to take care of their daughters for the evening.  Then one evening after work,  Emma met her mother at the grandmother's hall door with tears in her eyes.

"Are you getting married to Tania John's father?"

The urge to reassure!  It lets you down every time!

"Course not!  Who told you that?"  she muttered lovingly.  Well, at the time, they hadn't yet discussed marriage, although both of them were well aware that it was definitely on the agenda.  In the distant, if not the near future!  But not yet, not yet.

"Chrissie Jones..."  said Emma, wiping her tears.  "What did Chrissie Jones say?" asked Rosie absently, her tone belying her curiousity.   Who on earth was Chrissie Jones?  Actually, she was a girl in Emma and Tania's class.  "Chrissie Jones says that you were walking in the park with Mr. John and holding his hand.  She said you're getting married.  Tania hit her, and the teacher put her in detention"   Rosie grimaced.  Ambrose John's daughter had hit someone for saying that they were getting married!  Not good!  Not good at all!  Rosie had heard of people afraid to tell their parents about their marriage plans.  But in this case, she and Am were afraid of their children.

So here is Rosie, sitting at her kitchen table, her daughter Emma fast asleep in bed,  wondering where did things go from here!  And to think Ambrose had thought that the two girls knowing each other had meant that half the battle was won already!  Well, think again, Am, think again!  It will take a lot more than a few Sunday afternoon outings to bring these two darlings together.

Tania, it seemed, hung out at one end of the class with a bunch of friends.  Emma belonged to a little group of friends too.  Emma, to put it nicely, was one of the class swots, as they  would have been called in Rosie's schooldays.  And Tania was one of the dunces, who got low marks in every test and didn't give a hoot!

On Sunday afternoon, Am and Rosie took their daughters to a burger restaurant and then to a big park for a walk and an ice cream.  They two girls eyed each other up warily.  Emma was sulking.  She  was sure her mother was up to something.  What if her mother married Mr. John and ended up neglecting her!  And it was the same with Tania.  Surprisingly, this was the link which brought the two together.

"Look at the two of them!" sneered Tania, looking at the couple, absorbed in their conversation.    "Makes you sick, doesn't it?  In love at  their age!  Stupid!"

"They are not in love!  They're just friends!" replied Emma, hotly.  Tania glared at Emma coldly

"that's exactly the same thing!  Are you stupid?"

"No!" protested Emma.  "My mother told me, that's how I know!"  Tania looked at her with all the cynicism an eight-year-old can muster.

"You are either very simple, or very stupid.  Just look at the two of them."  Emma looked.   Her mother and Mr. John were laughing out loud and her heart sank.  If this went on, she knew she would end up sharing her mother with at least one other person.  She didn't want that.  Not now and not ever.  Her eyes filled with tears.  She blinked and wiped her eyes.  Tania's expression softened just a little.

"Look on the good side.  They're happy.  Let's you and me go for an ice-cream!"   "Dad!"  she called out, "I need some money!  I want to buy Emma an ice cream!"   And Ambrose John, in an expansive mood, willingly acquiesced.  Tania smiled broadly at Emma.  "Come on!" she said.  "Mine's a cornetto!  What's yours?"

Am and Rosie talked freely in the absence of the girls..the relationship was now accelerating at a faster pace.  Basically, both were keen to get married.  Having both been happily married before, they longed for the same security, and felt confident about stepping in for the second time.  But now the question of a suitable house became a priority.  At least three bedrooms needed because according to Ambrose, Tania had never yet shared a bedroom with anyone and might resent being forced to share one with her new sister.  Rosie didn't mention that since her husband's death, Emma had not yet moved out into separate room!  How would it go?

Next day, Emma sprung a surprise when they were having dinner.  She asked her mother if Tania could come over the next day to study, and eat dinner too.

"She's almost family now!" said Emma.  Then she added "and please cook pasta!  She loves that!"  Emma, it seemed, was most concerned about Tania's lack of progress in her studies.

"She's with the wrong friends, Mum!" she explained.  "If she changes her company, she'll certainly progress!"  Rosie didn't comment.  Just hoped things would keep fine!  When Tania came over the next day, dropped off by her father,  who naturally stayed to dinner, the two girls announced to their parents that when a suitable house was found for them all to live together, that they wanted the biggest bedroom for themselves.  "We want to have a room together like real sisters!  But we need plenty of space for our stuff!"  Tania explained.  When their amazed parents expressed their surprise, Emma explained

"We're both Geminis born in June.  We think we're really long lost twins who were meant find each other in this world!"

Another day, Emma came home with a story.  Tania in trouble again for fighting with Chrissie Jones, a young lady who seemed to love stirring up controversy.  She had apparently remarked to Tania that she hoped her father wouldn't marry Emma Riley's mother because "then that awful Emma would be her sister!"  Tania, ever protective of her loved ones, proceeded to teach Chrissie a lesson.

"Don't ever speak about Emma Riley like that again.  SHE IS MY SISTER....."

The two little girls looked as if they had known each other all their lives.  Their relieved parents went straight ahead with the preparations....

A few weeks later there was a report in the local newspaper about a quiet low-key wedding which took place on a Monday afternoon at St. Jude's Church.  There were very few guests, just immediate family.  In fact the wedding was so low-key that the photo accompanying the report was not of the blushing bride and the handsome groom, but of their two pretty and mischievous daughters, who posed happily for the camera.  Afterwards, looking at the photograph of the two girls smiling for the camera, Rosie thought to herself, " Well nobody gets everything, but sometimes, you can be blessed...."

This post originally appeared on Write Away on WordPress on 18/11/2009

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