I hate when mum comes to visit. I never know what to say. My parents got divorced when I was young, only eight. My brother was two at the time, he doesn’t remember her at all. She visits twice a year. Dad says he wishes she could see us more often, for us. I told him I’m happy if I never see her again. I know this hurts him, he wants what’s best for us.
My brother is always excited, he’s never had a mother figure in his life. Alice, our Dad’s girlfriend, is really nice. So much better than mother ever was. But to Ben, she’s an imposter. He doesn’t understand it’s not her fault. I like Alice, we get along well. She also doesn’t mind when mum visits.
I asked her if I can stay in my room. She says dad really wants this. I can tell this makes her sad and this makes me love her more. Alice is my real mother.
I sit at the dining table, my legs dangling from the chair, kicking back and forth anxiously. And there she is, mother.
“How’s school?” she asks.
I turn away.
“Really good,” Ben says, “I’ve just started high school.”
“Wow, that sounds like fun. You’re eleven now, is that right?”
Ben nods excitedly, “Yeah, I’ve met Steven, Tim and Charlie. They’re really fun. Robert from Junior school is in my class, I like him.”
“That’s wonderful. What about you, Ellie?”
I stare at Alice, pleading with her to get this woman out of my house.
“Ellie, talk to your mother,” she says.
“Fine. I started college last week. It’s okay.”
Alice cocks her head, leaning forward for me to elaborate.
“I’ve only been there a couple of days. Classes seem okay. Dunno. Whatever.”
Mother musters a smile.
“I love you, you know that right?” she asks.
“If you loved me so much, why did you leave!” I shout at her, tears streaming down my cheeks.
“I’m so sorry,” Alice says.
“Ellie!” my father demands.
“I’m going to my room,” I say and run upstairs.
A few minutes later Alice enters the room.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“No,” I say, briefly removing my head from the pillow, “why does he have to keep bringing her here.”
“She wants to see you,” she replies, the understanding this woman has amazes me. If I were her, I wouldn’t want my dad’s ex-wife to be in the house.
“You know what she did to me, right?” I ask.
Alice is quiet and I know she knows.
“Your father wants you to go back downstairs. She won’t be here much longer and he wants you to say goodbye.”
“Come on, Ellie. For me?”
I roll my eyes. Of course I’d do it for her. She knows me too well. I don’t want to upset her. I get up and walk towards the door.
“Thank you,” Alice says with a smile.
She puts her hand on my shoulder and rubs. Mother never did that for me. She just drank and shouted.
“I’m here,” I entered the dining room, as dad is talking to mother.
“Thank you, honey. We’re going to say goodbye now.”
“Bye mum,” I say sarcastically.
Alice continues to rub my back, I know who my real mother is.
We all watch as mum fades away. Dad blows out the candles and puts them away for Christmas.
“Why do you have to keep doing this?” I ask.
“A promise is a promise.”
“Just like when mum promised to take care of us? Just like when she left us? Just like when she drove drunk. I hate her.”
“I understand,” Dad says, “everyone makes mistakes. It’s the least I can do.”