I’m having Greece withdrawal symptoms though, so when the lovely Sally Cronin republished my story, Aphrodite’s Rock, which I wrote especially for her Authors in the Sun Series in 2015, I was surprised and immediately transported to sunnier, more exotic climes. It was just the pick me up I needed… thanks, Sally!
I watch my children launch themselves gleefully at the pile of presents under the tree, but take no pleasure in their joy. My heart feels cold and hard as a stone, and the bitter taste of guilt catches and won’t wash away in the back of my throat.
Sarah is the oldest. Always the thoughtful one, she organises her younger sister to sort the parcels into three piles, one for each of them. It’s meagre pickings, I think dismally, but they don’t seem to notice. Caitlin normally resents Sarah’s bossiness, but on this occasion normal hostilities have been temporarily cast aside. Jojo, not even a year old, crawls happily through the chaos, more absorbed in the crunch and rustle of the bright paper than what it conceals.
My brave bold trio, who already in their short lives have seen a side of it no child should have to witness. I won’t have their childhood stolen away from them, I just won’t.
“I’ll take them,” I hear myself say, and suddenly, my heart is fluttering randomly like a butterfly in my chest. “I’ll keep them on.”
The two young sales assistants exchange snooty glances, rolling black-rimmed eyes at each other. One of them goes to get a bag for my old grey trainers, while the other processes my purchase at the till.
As I teeter out of the store on my new high heels, I hear the ring of their mocking laughter, and my spine stiffens.
I glance down at my feet. Four hundred euros of Swarovski encrusted soft silver leather now adorn each one, balanced on a perfectly crafted, needle-thin mirrored heel.
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