Inspired by…a few little words

Jenny knew it was going to be a bad summer when her husband brought back their son from the barbers with tram-lines and crop circles cut into his newly-shorn grade 3. She didn’t have anything against crop circles as such – she just preferred them in the fields rather than on Ben’s scalp. What made it worse was that their eldest, Sophie, went into raptures over them and declared that she wanted some ‘when she had the side portion of her bob shaved.’
It was all becoming too much. She had to go and have a lie down in order to head off the threatening migraine that was starting to gather over her left eye.
She knew that the cause wasn’t really the shock of the haircut. It was simply the last straw in very large pile which had begun with the news that her sister Caroline was coming for a visit.
Never the easiest guest, she had recently split up from her husband and was looking for a shoulder to cry on; Jenny had been awarded the dubious honour of being the Chosen One on this occasion.
Sophie received the news with glee, sensing an ally. An impulsive sixteen-year-old, their daughter liked to cause a reaction in those around her. Like when she had taken to wearing her Dad’s pyjamas as her best going out outfit, complete with open fly hole to prove that they were the real McCoy men’s PJs. Another time she had dyed her beautiful natural blonde hair blue using Jenny’s De Oetker blue food colouring. Unfortunately it didn’t wash out and faded to a lovely minty shade of green after being subjected to the chlorine at The Heights Leisure Centre. That was part of the reason that it had eventually been trimmed to a bob length, which did suit her but obviously was starting to feel a bit tame for Sophie. Also she liked to try out faddy diets – at the moment it was the Paleo, or Caveman, diet where you could only eat things that could be hunted or gathered… Ha ha thought Jenny. Got her there! Obviously gathering the food from the supermarket shelves was allowed as was the odd bit of chorizo and she had some chips from the chip shop yesterday. Surely it couldn’t be as bad though as the Cabbage Soup Diet that Caroline had tried years ago – could it have been back in the 80s? The pong had filled the house for days even though her sister had only lasted for two of them.
Actually, Jenny thought to herself, it was quite funny when you thought about all the crazes that they went through. She smiled as she remembered borrowing her future father in law’s ancient thermal underwear before the days of proper leggings. They were all saggy around the bum and knees and must have looked truly dreadful.
Of course Caro was always the immaculate one, the golden girl with her perfect appearance and sporting prowess; not to mention her A grades and hunky boyfriends.
Just goes to show she thought, no-one can tell what really goes on underneath the surface façade. Her sister’s marriage seemed to have the permanently rosy glow of the comfortably-off. With exotic holidays and memberships at the golf and lawn tennis club; sailing in the summer and skiing in the winter. Her husband a company director, with a pension to match… Caroline soon shattered her illusions. This was the third time that she had left the marital nest. Unfortunately the nest itself had not been home to any eggs to coo over, Jenny had long suspected that it had rather too much to do with enjoying the hunky tennis coach and the fact that children might impinge on her spa trips and immaculate house. This was the first time that any other problems had been hinted at however.
Caroline waited until her Nephew and Niece had disappeared to play with the gadgets that she had bought them then started to twirl the ends of her Hermes scarf in an uncharacteristically nervous way. Malcolm, for once taking note of Jenny’s telepathic and eyebrow signals, said he was off to make some tea.
“Better make it a bottle of red darling.” Caro tossed after him. She looked at her sister with a strange smile.
“Brian has moved his personal secretary into our home. He says that he needs more support than I am able to give him and besides he says Sam does wonderful massages for his aching muscles!
I’ve never heard anything like it have you?”
Jenny didn’t quite know what to say. Brian had seemed the last kind of person to go off with his secretary; in fact, he seemed so attentive to Caroline that he seemed to be oblivious to other women. He loved to dress his wife up and often came home with the latest outfit from her favourite label; he encouraged her extravagant trips to stock up on Clarins beauty products and personally helped with her personal grooming. Jenny had a bit of a problem getting used to this idea. It was nice to have a little mystery left she thought with a grimace.
“Had you any inkling?” Jenny said in, what she hoped was, a sympathetically supportive manner.
“Well there have been lots of business trips away and actually I suspected that the office trollop, Daisy, was after him. Sam always seemed well…like my new best friend on the few occasions that we had all been out together!”
“Maybe there was an ulterior motive there to get you on-side?”
“I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back, I shall never trust another man as long as I live!” Caroline declared in what, Jenny thought, was a rather over-theatrical manner – considering the gravity of the situation.
“I expect he will soon grow tired of her fawning attention to his golf-induced back problems and will come crawling back to you.”
“It should be HIS fawning actually. Oh no. I’ve decided. They are welcome to each other. He can paw Mr Sneaky Sam rather than me – actually it’s a relief really. I’ve managed to squirrel a bit of money aside from the housekeeping money and my allowance – I’m off to Ibiza with Simon, my tennis coach, on the weekend. I’m not sure when we’ll be back but he says that I show a lot of promise and may even be able to set up business with him if I can just invest the money he needs to start it off…
© Helen Merritt 2015
Prompt: Can you include some or all of these words…? Guest, summer, tram-lines, squirrel, cabbage

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