In Case You Missed It - Lindsey Kelk Page 0,1

you didn’t notice when you saw someone every day but when it had been a while, you couldn’t help but see it.

‘Present time!’ I said, setting down my mug and clapping my hands. I wrestled a very full duty-free bag out of my backpack. ‘Perfume for Mum, bottle of whisky for Dad …’

I handed out the tax-free bounty and beamed. ‘The man said that was his favourite whisky, I hope you like it.’

‘And who are all those Toblerones for?’ Dad asked, eyes on my backpack. I quietly pushed it around the side of my chair before he realized the Toblerones had already been eaten. It had been a long flight.

‘Can’t believe Jo’s left home,’ I said, changing the subject as I took in all the other details that spelled out home: the velvet drapes, the net curtains, Mum’s late-nineties collection of Swarovski crystal bears. ‘She says she’s enjoying it?’

‘Having the time of her life.’ Dad lifted his eyebrows over the rim of his teacup as Mum spritzed herself with her new perfume and immediately sneezed. ‘According to the one text message she has deigned to send me.’

No one would ever actually call my sister an accident (except me) but even if she wasn’t planned, my parents couldn’t have cooked up a better child if they’d tried. And they had tried (again, me). Jo was beautiful. A perfect baby with silky, straight hair, a button nose and the biggest blue eyes you’d ever seen, which was why, when I passed all my exams at sixteen and jokingly told everyone I was the brains of the family and baby Jo was the beauty, I didn’t mind so much that they agreed with me. It stung a bit more when she grew up and turned out to be an actual genius as well as shockingly beautiful. Where was the fairness in that?

‘One in, one out,’ Dad said as he passed me the biscuit tin. ‘Just when I thought we’d finally got the house to ourselves.’

‘Obviously, we discussed the timing,’ I joked. ‘Didn’t want to leave the two of you here on your own to go mental.’

He fixed me with a look that suggested he got the joke, he just didn’t think it was funny.

‘I didn’t think we’d see you back so soon, everything seemed to be going so well. Thought you’d stay over there a bit longer,’ he added, his voice lilting up and down as he avoided asking his real question.

Why had I come home?

‘It was the right time to leave,’ I said airily, breaking a ginger nut in half and dipping it in my tea.

Dad passed me a napkin. ‘And move back in with us?’

I chewed my biscuit thoughtfully. Anyone would think he didn’t want his unemployed thirty-two-year-old daughter moving back in unexpectedly, fourteen years after she’d left home.

‘I won’t be here long,’ I told them, wiggling my left big toe into the cuff of my right sock and prising it off. Ahh, sweet relief. ‘As soon as I get a job, I’ll be out of the way.’

‘Any bites on the work front?’ Dad asked.

‘Lots of possibilities.’ I busied myself by balling up my socks so he wouldn’t see my face. My dad could always tell when I was lying. ‘I’ll be out of your way in a couple of weeks.’

‘There’s absolutely no rush,’ Mum insisted before sliding her hand around the back of Dad’s neck and giving it a rub. ‘We’re just happy you’re home, aren’t we, Alan? I never liked you being that far away anyway.’

I silently registered their PDA. This was new.

‘You know, I might go and put my head down for an hour,’ I said, stifling a fake yawn. Perhaps I was hallucinating from exhaustion. ‘Before it gets too late for a nap. Got to beat the jetlag, you know?’

Mum and Dad caught each other’s eye, furtive glance meeting furtive glance. I put down my mug and straightened in my seat. Something was up.

‘Is everything all right?’ I asked.

‘It’s more than all right,’ Dad said. A big, bright smile spread across his face and I watched in horror as he placed his hand on my mother’s thigh. Her actual, upper thigh. And then he squeezed.

‘I could definitely use some shut-eye.’ I stood swiftly, scooping up my socks and getting an unfortunate whiff of myself as I stood. Some shut-eye and a shower. ‘Didn’t really get a lot of sleep on the plane.’

And if my dad’s hand didn’t stop creeping up my mum’s leg, I might never sleep