Ziva’s new role, which she claims is as a consultant for the police, appears to fill her time. Vicky surveys the carnage of their home, Milly’s enthusiasm for all things, sticky fingers cover the walls and furnishing, the cats decorated with hair clips, bows, and Fiona has a glittery ribbon fastened to her tail which she keeps chasing. Milly giggles, chasing Libby, food twisted in her ginger curls and paint-splattered clothes; Vicky sank exhausted, the sofa and a toy sticking into her back keeping her awake, pleased Milly was happy. Motherhood had distracted her, the freelance artistry Vicky intended, postponed in favour of Milly’s needs. Missed were the long walks with Fiona and taking her easel to the beach to create her work.
It occurred to Vicky she resented Ziva’s freedoms, the ability to leave the chaos of home in favour of suits and adult conversation. The paintbrush danced against the canvas, another attempt to create a showpiece for the gallery, and her daughter’s nonsensical babbling grating her nerves. Deadlines looming the pressure mountains, Vicky snapped, but a toddler had limited understanding of a need for creative peace. Startled eyes enlarged, her mouth open mid-story, it closed, quivering, Vicky gasped, hand over her mouth, tears stinging her eyes. Milly rocked forward, pushing herself to stand; she gave an apologetic look, disappearing to the sofa, the cat making room.
Vicky calmed; glancing over her shoulder, Milly played; her daughter’s silent game with the cats elicited guilt. She needed space, a time to breathe, Milly demanded attention, something Vicky wanted to give, but she had to provide double cuddles and playtime, making up for Ziva’s absence. The stress-relieved by her art had failed her, the relaxation of listening to the water sploshing, colours sweeping, lost in the constant conversation and narration Milly shared. Rinsing her brushes, Vicky knew things had to change; she missed Ziva and Milly missed her mother; they needed a day together building sandcastles, a picnic where they could unwind, and Milly could talk without anyone yelling.
She settled next to Milly; the toddler shuffled to the edge, worried there would be shouting. Vicky suggests a round of her favourite flashcards by way of apology; Milly screwed her nose, a semi-toothless grin, “Bubbles”, she loved bathtime, if Vicky was sorry, splashing, and foamy fun was a must. Wriggling off the sofa, Milly commanded her mother, bath, dinner and a bedtime read; this made her happy, although Vicky knew it was another Ziva would be missing.
Ziva felt the strain; taking the job was to support her family, provide for Milly’s future. She pulled another file, a growing mountain of investigations; with her advancing years, Ziva knew she should be slowing down, taking a leisure approach to life and spending quality time with her family. The memory of the cute ginger girl, the lush green meadows that depicted her eyes made her smile; Milly needed them both to read to her, teach her life skills, create memories to tell her children one day. Vicky would greet her tired as she headed to bed, leaving Ziva to enjoy the cold dinner she was late for, the distance growing each day. This job consumed Ziva’s energy, her usual family calls, checking in on Eliza were infrequent. Rylan hounded, his messages reflected selfishness, feelings which failed to consider those closest to him. All Ziva wanted was to give her wife and daughter the attention they deserved, she knew this was the autumn of her life, the literal changing of the season doing nothing to improve her mood. What would Milly remember of her when she was no longer alive?