(Geoffrey Meyer-van Voorthuijsen [CC / Flickr])
The day my little white car broke down was the last but one time I decided enough was enough.
“You’re late,” said my sister when she opened the door to mum’s place.
“I’m fine, thank you,” I said. “How are you?”
She grunted. “It’s mum’s birthday. We’ve been waiting half an hour for you.”
“Yes, I know it’s mum’s birthday. I’m not here at the same time as you by coincidence. But my car broke down. I’ve been -”
She wasn’t interested. “Honestly, Jim, can’t you think of someone else for once?”
“That’s it,” I said. “I’m going to Thailand.”
“What are you on about?”
“I said I’m going to Thailand.”
That got her attention. “Right.” Sort of. “Well come and say hello to mum and we’ll talk about it later. And remember to say sorry.”
That settled it. “I’m going to Thailand now.”
“Don’t be silly, Jim,” said my sister. “You’ve got two horses and a llama in your back garden. Who’s going to look after them if you go skipping off to Thailand.”
Damn. She had a point there. Still… I looked at her.
“No. Absolutely not. That was me asking a rhetorical question, not me planning your logistics for you.” She stepped back from the door. “Just come in and say hello to mum, will you?”
“Good idea.” I stepped through the door. “I’ll ask her.”
“No you damn well won’t. I spend enough time driving mum around already without taking her to your place twice a day.”
I liked the sound of that. “You think she’ll say yes, then?”
My sister pinched the bridge of her nose as if trying to squeeze out an ache before it made it any further into her head. “When will I ever learn? No, don’t answer that, Jim. It was another rhetorical question. I don’t know what you were thinking, bringing horses and llamas into that tiny little garden.”
I shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
My sister dropped her hands to her hips and glared at me. It was an expression she never seemed to wear when she was talking to anyone else.
“A lot of things seem like a good idea to you because you don’t think them through. Have you still got that harp blocking your bedroom door?”
“It’s not blocking it. I can get through the door perfectly well,” I said. “If I turn sideways.”
“And how well can you play it now?”
I didn’t meet her eye. “I haven’t started the lessons yet.”
My sister took a deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry about your car. Come and say hello to mum and we’ll talk about Thailand later.”
“You’re just hoping I’ll forget about it,” I said.
My sister didn’t answer, so I knew I was right. In fairness, so was she.