The Headache by Mike Rymarz

“Mum, I really think you need to get it checked out. You look awful.” Emma was so concerned about her mother these days, ever since she and the kids had moved back in with her. Just so tired and, frankly haggard. It seemed as though she’d aged considerably since the last time she’d spent any proper time with her. 

“I’m fine, love. Honestly.” Despite her protestations, Emma could see that Judith clearly needed to see someone. 

“I’m not taking no for an answer mum. Let’s get it looked at. After you’ve dropped the kids off at school tomorrow I think you should swing back here, pick me up and we’ll go to the doctor’s and get it sorted for you. You can’t live with this kind of headache for too long.” Her mum was lucky to have her back. 

“Honestly love, I think maybe I just need a bit of a break you know, maybe…” 

“Oh wait, we can’t go tomorrow. We need to take Woody to the vets don’t we? You said you’d be able to give me a hand. You did take a day off work, didn’t you?” Her mum loved the fact that they had brought their St Bernard back to live with them as well. Okay, so he was a little large, but he was so cute that it totally made up for the little bit of mess he made. “Oh, and I said I’d treat you to a new vase as well. That’ll be something to look forward to.” 

“To replace the vase that Woody broke?” Judith replied. 

“Well, you know, the old one. Anyway, why don’t you drop the kids off and then pick me and Woody up, we’ll go to the vets and then we’ll buy you a vase. I mean, I’ll probably stay outside with Woody, but you can pop in and choose one for yourself. I’ll then give you the money back at the end of the week when the benefits come through.” Emma loved treating her mum and felt she deserved to be looked after from time to time. 

Emma glanced across and saw Judith get up and wander into the kitchen. 

“That’s it mum, a bit of exercise will do you some good,” Emma advised from the comfort of the settee. “While you’re in there why don’t you take a couple of paracetamols? Oh, and can you bring me the bottle of white from last night? Might just have a little glass.” It was good for her mum to keep busy, she rationalised. Didn’t want her joints seizing up as well. That would just about be the icing on the cake. She had to relax a bit as well though otherwise this headache could get a lot worse. 

It must be getting worse, Emma thought, impatiently tapping her fingers. It was taking her ages to bring the wine through. Maybe she should help her out a bit, just to speed things up. She was on the verge of getting up when Judith reappeared with the bottle of wine and a glass. 

“Not joining me mum?” 

“Don’t think I should love. Got a busy day tomorrow.”

“Oh well, I’ll drink for two then,” Emma replied, reaching for the alcohol in front of her. “Wouldn’t want you to feel left out!” 

She could hear some noise from upstairs, obviously one of her kids being a bit restless. She turned to her mum. “Would you mind going up to see what’s going on? You know they always seem to settle when you tuck them in.” 

“Of course, love,” her mum sighed, pushing herself back out of the settee. “I’ll try to get them back in bed as soon as I can.” Emma knew that Judith loved spending time with the kids, although she had to admit that she spoiled them a little too much. Oh well, that was one of the perks of being a granny, wasn’t it? 

It had been easy since moving back in, she reflected, although there is no way these would be the circumstances she would have wanted to move back in under. Her mum had done so much for her and she desperately wanted to help out more but knew that just being there with the kids was all the gift her mum really wanted. 

Emma was on to her second glass by the time Judith came down fifteen minutes later, looking even more tired and run-down than she had before. 

“Are you sure you’re okay, mum? I really am getting worried.” Emma didn’t quite know what to do to help her mum, but knew she had to do something. She could see Judith plucking up the courage to say something, before thinking better of it. Emma knew what she wanted to say, but that her mother was too classy to actually utter the words. She used her arms to push herself more upright and turned her body towards her mother. 

“Look, I know we’re a burden. No, I’m a burden, but it will get easier. I’ll get better, I promise. I’m still getting used to it.” She faltered a little, a lump in her throat preventing her from continuing. 

“Oh, I know love, don’t worry. I am fine though, and it will be a bit easier when Jim’s parents pick the kids up this weekend. I’ll get some rest then.” 

“Let’s do something for you this weekend, mum. Here, pass me my chair so I can take these things through. No, I insist,” she finished, anticipating her mum’s protestations. 

Judith brought Emma’s wheelchair around, a daily reminder of the car crash which had stolen her husband from her two months earlier. It was going to take some adjusting for them all, but mother and daughter both knew they’d get through it. This period was a bit of a headache for them all, but there was light at the end of the tunnel, a chance for them all to find their feet.

Published in Issue #14

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