“I can’t believe I turn 40 in six weeks; where has the time gone? I feel like I’ve only just turned 30… what have I been doing with my life?” Lucy says to Julia, her best friend.
“Well you got married, had twins, got yourself an MA, and set up your own business. That’s not enough for you?” Julia replies, scanning the menu in front of her.
“Well I guess if you put it like that…but it just feels like the last decade has whizzed past, and it’s all going to get faster from here.…”
“Hey, 40 is not so bad. Look at me, I’m 42 now, and I have to say that I am having a great time – although I have to go to bed at about 10pm. But apart from that, it’s not so bad.”
“But you’ve been going to bed at 10pm, since your 20s, so no change there then…anyway, I guess we should order.” Lucy looks at the menu again.
A waitress appears at the side of the table and smiles. She hovers with her notepad with her pen poised, ready to take their order.
“Um, well I’m meant to be on a diet. I don’t want to be fat AND 40, so I guess I’ll have a grilled schnitzel and salad,” Lucy says, half talking to the waitress and Julia. She looks up from the menu and smiles at the waitress. “Thank you.”
“Well, I’ve been hanging out for a shawarma for about a week.” Julia says to Lucy. She turns to the waitress. “Can I have a shawarma laffa, with salad, and some chips. Oh and a Diet Coke…”
“I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think a Diet Coke is gonna help with all that lot, do you?”
“Oh well, I’m going to the gym tomorrow, or at least I will think about going tomorrow…”
It was always so great to see Julia. We never got a chance to catch up as much as we both wanted to, but life seems to get in the way. Plus she works such crazy hours sometimes, so it can be tricky to get time in our hectic diaries. When we do meet up, it’s like no time at all has passed, and we just pick up right where we left off. The perfect friendship.
My phone rings, interrupting Julia’s hilarious story about her recent job interview.
“Hello Lucy, how are you?”
“Hello Mum, I’m fine. Just out to dinner.”
“So you’re out for dinner then?”
“Yes Mum, where are you?”
“Oh I’m just at home, you know ‘chillaxing’ as Joshua and Jacob say, is that it?”
“Yes, Mother, very hip.”
“I had a missed call from your home phone.”
“It wasn’t me, I’m out with Julia. Are you sure it was my house?”
“Well I thought so, maybe I was wrong. Silly me. Say hello to Julia for me. Is Daniel home alone?”
“Well if you call two kids, a cat and a pile of ironing, on his own, then yes he is. Are you ok Mum?”
“Oh yes yes yes, I’m fine…just getting confused. Have a nice time.”
“Ok I’ll call you tomorrow… g’night.”
Lucy puts the phone down and turn back to Julia.
“Sorry about that, not quite sure what she was even phoning about… she said she was ‘chillaxing.’”
“Bless her, where does she even know such a word?”
“I think one of the boys must have said it to her when they were over there, but it sounds better when a 7-year-old-boy says it than when a 70-year-old woman does…anyway, sorry to interrupt your story.”
“Yes, anyway so I said goodbye to him and then ended up walking into his glass door. Face first…”
“Oh Jules, how do you manage to get yourself into these situations?”
“Just lucky I guess…”
Our drinks arrive, and our food follows soon afterwards. I look longingly at Jules’ laffa and chips as I eat my chicken and salad. I have major dinner envy, but I know I have to be strict.
“So what are you doing for your birthday? Anything planned?”
“Oh you know me, I don’t like to make a big deal out of things like birthdays, so we might just go away for the weekend. Maybe a spa or something.”
“Has Daniel not organised anything fun for you then?”
“He’s not really a one for surprises, bless him. He likes to play it safe. He even checks with me before he buys me a gift in case I don’t like it!”
I push my salad around the plate and then grab one of Julia’s chips.
“So shoot me, it’s only one.”
“You are so funny…have some more, I can keep a secret!”
As the boys play and giggle in the front room, Daniel goes into the study and closes the door. He has managed to find a game that both children agreed to play, and he needs to make a phone call.
“Hello Sadie, it’s Daniel. Laura’s out at the moment, so I thought I would call you. I called you before, but I’m not sure if you heard it.
“Yes, yes, I saw a missed call, so I called Lucy. She’s out with Julia.”
“I know. Are you around tomorrow evening? I wanted to come over to talk about something without Lucy.”
“Of course, of course, but what will you tell Lucy?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll just tell her I am working late. See you at 7:30. Oh, I’d better go, I think that the kids are calling…”
He opens the door and shouts out to the kids.
“Hey kids, who wants a hot chocolate before bedtime?”
“Yaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy,” they say in unison. One of the only things that they had agreed on the whole evening. Daniel didn’t mind Lucy going out and seeing friends, but he was always grateful when she came back. He looks at his watch. She said she would try to be back by 9:30. “Only another hour and a half to go,” he says to himself.
“Hey love, I’m home…everything ok?” Lucy calls out as she comes in the front door.
“Yes, all ok thanks. They both went to bed without too much of a fight. Did you have a nice evening? How’s Julia?” Daniel is in the living room reading the paper, surrounded by comics, toys and general 7-year-old boy mess.
“Julia’s great. She always cracks me up. Not sure how she gets herself into some situations, but she should write a book I think!”
“No one would believe her…”
“Yes, you’re probably right. My mum called whilst I was out. She was a bit strange on the phone…”
“Nothing new there then. Do you want a drink? Was about to make myself a cup of coffee.”
“Maybe a peppermint tea. I don’t know how you can drink coffee so late at night.”
Daniel walks to the kitchen and fills the kettle. His phone beeps – incoming text message.
“Oh darling,” Daniel shouts from the kitchen. “I might have to work late tomorrow, ok? So don’t wait for me for dinner or anything. I’ll probably grab something on the way home, ok?”
“Yeah fine”, Lucy says, kicking off her shoes and flicking through one of the children’s comic books left on the floor. “Don’t overdo it though. You have been working late quite a bit over the past few weeks. They really should take on more staff rather than running the ones they have into the ground.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t….” Daniel smiles to himself and looks at the phone.
The message reads, “Our secret is safe…”