Annie had been planning for this day for months. She was used to organising the myriad of commitments that made up the fabric of family life; the school, social and work obligations that threatened to seep out and absorb all the hours of the day.
There was a monthly planner on the fridge dotted with brightly coloured stickers marking events and appointments that were non-negotiable. When she’d set it up at the beginning of the year, putting in birthdays, holidays and special occasions, she’d realised that there was a gap in May. A whole weekend was blank between the usual sporting and family engagements. Annie blocked it with a post-it note, just in case there was something that she’d missed.
But when she checked again in February, the gap was still there. So, she started to make arrangements. Jack’s family had been tossing up the idea of a weekend away with the brothers heading on a camping weekend with the kids. Well, her sisters-in-law were planning to go, but Annie started lobbying with Jack about how beneficial it would be for him to take the kids, and she would catch up.
‘Catch up with who?’
Annie was ready for the question. ‘Someone I used to know, from years ago. She’s visiting that weekend and I promised to meet up with her. The kids will be fine without me – they’re old enough now to take care of themselves, mostly. And I’ve asked Tammy and Cass to keep an eye on them as well. You don’t mind, do you?’
Jack frowned a little, and Annie was prepared to cite precedents around the golfing weekend last month, and the trip away for the Melbourne Cup the year before, but he shook his head and said they’d manage.
Next on the list was her parents, who would be quick to offer suggestions on how she might wish to spend her time if they had any sense that there was a gap in the schedule. She made a pre-emptive strike, letting them know about Jack and the kids heading away, and that she was heading out of town to catch up with a friend from her uni days. No, it wasn’t anyone that they knew. She wasn’t entirely comfortable with the deception, but she knew it would be necessary.
The week before was busy with keeping an eye on the family’s packing for the weekend away, and making sure that they had enough clothing, food and games to keep them occupied. Annie prepared a hamper with snacks for the trip down, and reminded them that reception was patchy at the camping ground, so maybe text messages might be all that would make it through. Both kids shrugged, telling her it was only for a couple of days, and why would they call her anyway?
As the car pulled out of the drive early on Saturday morning, she waved them off before heading inside to clear away the kitchen dishes. Over the next couple of hours there were a few text messages from the kids, before a final message from Jack confirming that they’d arrived safe and would see her tomorrow night. He told her to relax and enjoy her catch up, and Annie smiled and sent a brief message back before switching the phone to silent mode.
Annie paused for a moment, listening to the sound of the house settling around her. There were the usual noises of the neighbourhood, but the house was unusually peaceful. She flicked the kettle on to make a pot of tea using the special loose-leaf blend that she loved but never seemed to have the time to make properly. It wasn’t to be rushed, and today she could take the time and savour the entire experience. As she took a tea tray out to the back verandah where the morning sunlight was stretching golden fingers across the timber decking, Annie exhaled, savouring the moment and the promise of an ideal day ahead.
I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find out more about the challenge, join in and read other posts here.