Birthday: Rebecca

Deleted scenes from the cutting room floor: an extract from Sisterwives

image by Patricia Oliveira

So much time went into the planning.  The lists.  The instructions to Sarah and Hannah and Lucia: bring cake.  So much cake, for Amarantha’s birthday.  There wasn’t any saffron to be had in Aroer of course, to make the buns.  But because my sisterwife loves them, because she had them every year for her birthday as a girl, I asked Tobias if he could find some.

Tobias, who grazed the skin of his knuckles knocking at doors in search for it, trying grocers, pharmacists, herbalists.

But he came home with saffron.

At birthday tea time, the girls approach Ammie shyly, giving her gifts of paper dolls they’ve made and cards coloured with crayon and candle wax.  They drip down the surface of the paper, like tears.  I’ve been so busy baking, making, planning and instructing that I have nothing to give. The ginger cake, the saffron buns – that must suffice, surely.  And the biggest gifts of all: my husband, my home.

Tobias stands up do the candles.  It takes him a long time to light them, and when he’s seated again, he fumbles under the table.  A package, which he slides across the table toward s her.

It’s then.  And later.  I realise that the gift he’s giving her is more than merely a book wrapped in coloured tissue.  It’s bigger than that, something corrosive, destructive.  What will happen, that evening, is something I didn’t expect and wasn’t prepared for: he gives away my night, my turn.

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