‘He’s slippery, almost reptilian,’ Laura said, with a shudder.
Laura and Sophie were walking back to the farmhouse. They’d been hiking along the river bed in gum boots and holding long sticks.
‘He’s so not!’ Sophie said, fiercely defending her primary school crush. ‘He was lovely to me, all those years ago.’
‘Yes, but now? Come on Soph!’
Sophie paused, giving Laura’s words thought. It’s true, neither had seen Rupert for fifteen years, since Year 6 graduation. Sophie clearly remembered his boyish charm, his fine features and smile. Last weekend when they bumped into him at Lotus, she was shocked at the difference in his adult face.
‘I still think he’s alright,’ Sophie murmured.
‘Well, each to their own, I suppose,’ Laura responded, flicking her long blonde hair over her shoulder. ‘We need to hurry back. My phone’s alarm’s just gone off. I need to give mum her medicine.’
Laura quickened her pace, but Sophie lagged a few steps behind. Her slow pace a rebuke to her long-time friend over the seed of doubt she’d just planted in Sophie’s mind. Sophie’s heart had lurched against her ribs when she saw adult Rupert; she’d allowed her thoughts to roam, picturing a future just like she did as a child. They’d exchanged numbers and Sophie was keen to see him again. She’d checked her phone religiously over these last few days to see if he was true to his word about contacting her. So far, nothing. And that’s what they’d been discussing on their walk. Laura was adamant. Rupert not good enough for her friend. Sophie equally adamant: he was better than some of the arseholes she’d hooked up with.
‘Hurry up, Soph!’ Laura called.
Sophie looked up. She didn’t even realise she’d stopped walking. ‘Coming!’
She jogged the short distance to catch up with Laura. Inside the farmhouse, Sophie heard Laura’s mum crying.
‘You check on her. I’ll get the medicine ready for you,’ Sophie offered. She’d been at the farm often enough throughout Sarah’s illness to know where they kept her copious pills. The list of what tablets she needed at what time was clearly marked on the fridge whiteboard; Sophie consulted it before grabbing the medicine container. Sarah was now sobbing loudly in the master bedroom. Laura would definitely appreciate some privacy to deal with the problem, Sophie thought.
‘Thanks,’ Laura called over her shoulder. ‘You’re the best.’