Sex and Stravinsky

Sex and Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido Read Free Book Online

Book: Sex and Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido Read Free Book Online
Authors: Barbara Trapido
went, day after day. And the kids from the nearby Lutheran Sunday School would go home via her kitchen, where she taught them how to make rock cakes and got them to do subtraction sums with the raisins. Ten raisins minus three raisins makes three to eat and seven to throw in the rock-cake mix. Then there was Liesl, the maid, who was roughly as old as Ida. The two of them were more like sisters. Intermittently embracing; sharing a little weep over the old man’s death. Interesting, Josh thought, how ethnic difference begins to leach from the features with age.
    He noted that, while Bernie and Ida had transplanted themselves, what they had recreated around themselves felt much the same as before. He tried in his mind to put Caroline and Ida together; both with that resolute productivity. All that sewing and growing and organising. And yet. And yet.
    Ida hugged him when it was time for him to go.
    ‘My boy,’ she said. It was all she said.
    She gave him a cow-skin album pasted with all the photographs he’d taken during his visit. Most of them were of her and Zoe, or of Zoe with the Sunday School kids. One, taken by Liesl, had the three of them together. A couple were of Zoe with Liesl. Ida had added a few old photographs of Josh in childhood, with Ida and Bernie.
    ‘For the little girl,’ she said.
    ‘I was foul to you before I left,’ Josh says to Caroline. ‘I’m sorry. I was stressed.’
    ‘No,’ she says. ‘No. It’s OK. Look, Mum’s in a B & B, by the way, but it’s only for a few weeks. She’s been there since yesterday evening.’
    Caroline’s ‘plan’ has been to put on hold their own intended house purchase and to buy for her mother instead.
    ‘She’ll be right on the edge of the city,’ she says. ‘We did a massive consumer survey and she fell for this brand-new little semi. The good news is that, because it’s so new, it needed quite a small deposit and the developer sorts out the mortgage. She’ll exchange contracts in about two weeks. It’s all going through very quickly. It’s using up nearly all of our savings, Josh, but I promise we’ll build them up again. And I’ll be responsible for the monthly payments and Mum’s allowance. You won’t need to notice a thing.’
    Neither of them has the stomach to bring up Caroline’s previously stated intention to work part-time and have another baby, or to move out of the bus. Josh finds that right now he’s so wrung out that he’s completely beyond caring. He’s desperately in need of sleep. He’s home again. The Witch Woman is patently no longer in his bed. Besides, it’s not he but Caroline who longs to have more children. Josh is wholly focused on Zoe. He’s more than happy to have her remain as his precious only child.
    ‘It’s fine,’ he says. ‘It’s all fine, Caro. Just so long as we’ve got each other.’
    Then he climbs the stairs of the old red bus and he falls asleep in his clothes.

Chapter Two
    Zoe is really upset about the French exchange, and all the more so because it hasn’t even started. She’s feeling extra apprehensive, not only because it’s going to be three whole weeks, not two, on account of Mrs Mead, head of French, believing in what she calls ‘total immersion’, but she’s the only girl in the class who’s been teamed up with a boy. All the boys in her class have got French boys for partners and all the girls have got French girls – that’s except for her. Unfortunately, there’s been a not quite correlating boy–girl take-up in each of the two schools. This is what Mrs Mead has explained, so somebody’s got to have the extra boy on the other side of the Channel. And – guess what? – that somebody is going to be her. Zoe Silver. Of course .
    And it’s so unfair, because it could have been Gemma, or Gemma’s best friend Becca, both boy-mad and both with their proper grown-up lacy bras and their scary mixed-sex birthday parties that they’ve been having since they were eleven. And

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