(2013) Four Widows

(2013) Four Widows by Helen MacArthur Read Free Book Online

Book: (2013) Four Widows by Helen MacArthur Read Free Book Online
Authors: Helen MacArthur
Tags: thriller, UK
Harrison although it was much more direct: my sister’s scoffing Adderall like there’s no tomorrow–should I be concerned? Fortunately,she dumped the addictive stimulant drug before I intervened but it was a messy break up; I suspect she still hankers after it with the same forlorn longing one reserves for a first love.
    “Where is she?” asked Suzanne.
    “Aberdeen. Moved there from London–her husband’s work took them there.”
    “Older or younger?” asked Kate.
    “Four years older.”
    I definitely handled leaving London better than my sister did. What’s more, her two-year-old son seemed to plunge her into a worse state of despair instead of filling her with new life and enthusiasm.
    Postpartum depression, suggested Harrison when we visited her in Aberdeen and she was monosyllabic uncivil. I was embarrassed by her behaviour and exasperated at Harrison. Yet, I couldn’t blame him because there had been no love lost between them. Gwendoline, or Gee as we call her, made it clear when she sided with our mother: Harrison was a scandalous man.
    She sent out electromagnetic radiation waves of disapproval. He should never have got himself in that situation; got too close to the patient; tried to play God. Maverick bulldozing Harrison was too much for my career-driven sister. Player , she said.
    “Does she work?” asked Cece, making sure everyone was finishing the food on their plates.
    “She’s a paediatrician…” I hesitated before continuing, “…who’s on a career break, of sorts…”
    “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” asked Kate, sloshing more prosecco into glasses.
    “I’m not sure. She was so good at her job.”
    She was. Gee made the perfect paediatrician because she could nail down her emotions until there was no flow: no tears for small children with incurable tumours on her watch. Unlike Harrison, and perhaps even our father, she was an efficient realist: a surgeon sociopath who wasted no time on tears. She steamrolled through fixing people. Her success rate was impressive although, I’m quite sure, she would be astonished if someone reminded her that patients were people. You know, real people with families, birthday parties and routines.
    “I went crazy for a while after the kids were born,” said Kate sympathetically.
    “Who you kiddin’?” Cece snorted like a horse. “You’re still crazy, girl.”
    Kate and Cece continued to banter while Suzanne attempted to mediate in her gentle, mild manner. My head was elsewhere.
    “TEA, COFFEE, TIA MARIA?” Cece’s foghorn call made me jump and brought me back to the moment.
    Kate and Suzanne opted for mint tea while Cece and I had espresso, both agreeing that a sledgehammer hit of late-night caffeine wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to hardened insomniacs like us. Sleep was never on the cards.
    “Your sister…” continued Cece, picking up on my thoughts, “… has she thought about a new direction at work–something completely different?”
    Kate looked amused. “Here comes the work experience offer at Ribbons.”
    “Now there’s a thought,” replied Cece tartly. “Could use all the help I can get.”
    I quickly explained before Cece got an idea in her head. “She has got something going on–part-time phlebotomist work.”
    “What in the world’s a phlebotomist?” Suzanne’s eyes stretched wide.
    “Someone who takes blood samples from patients–a conveyor belt of bottling bloods is the impression I get.”
    Kate winched. “Ouch.”
    Cece looked thoughtful. “I hate needles.”
    I spared them the details of how Gee’s decision left everyone truly shocked–colleagues and seniors and our poor baffled mother. No one could understand why she had done such a thing, effectively throwing away her career.
    Suzanne suggested that Gee visit Edinburgh for a couple of nights.
    I shrugged. “She won’t come. She didn’t even visit me after the funeral. I’ve learned not to take it personally–death doesn’t

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