The income covered the bills, with nothing remaining for luxuries. Vicky took overtime, hoping to avoid using the saving she and Ziva put aside for Milly’s future. The price for her absence was leaving her daughter alone and with family at the weekend. Since Ziva’s death, the house was cold, empty, the two cats made for poor conversation. What greeted her was a harsh reality, scowls, folded arms, and a paint-splattered floor. Vicky tried firm disapproval, a polite request that she cleans the mess. Her daughter stamped her feet, wondering when Vicky would receive retribution.
Vicky listened to the sobbing; Libby gave a knowing look from the top of the fridge. It had been months since she made a decent meal; a fridge; filled with quick bites saved her the trouble. Tonight Vicky needed to apologise; Pasta Primavera would have to do. The smell of cooking made Milly’s mouth water; she cleaned quicker, eager to enjoy a proper meal. Vicky acknowledged things were difficult, wanting to pretend everything was fine. She realised solving their financial situation meant neglecting what mattered. Milly closed her homework keeping her eyes lowered, guilty at her outbursts. She wanted to be selfish; have her remaining parent with her. Vicky sank into the chair, a silent weight, a sickness in her stomach. How had she made her precious child feel awful and to blame?
Beautiful weather brought a cool breeze from the sea, and the snow had cleared. Milly skipped ahead along the sunlit path, pausing to watch basking cats or dogs play chase. Vicky gazed at her empty hands, no longer holding Ziva’s, a love she hoped would remain with her. Vicky laughed; the steady pace she kept; was keeping them from excitement. Her daughter pushed, forcing Vicky to make good on her promise with haste. Steeped in History, Vicky told stories of Brindleton Bay as they walked. Their home faced the ocean in Cavalier Cove, renowned for pirate treasures. Milly screwed her nose; the water annoyed her, the icy flow meant it was too cold for swimming. It was the northern waters picking up the melting ice from the poles. Inland, Sable Square sat to the south and included the dog park and Vet clinic. The main town, Whiskerman’s Wharf, is an affectionate reference to the mayor. Milly laughed at the idea; it seemed nonsense to have a cat as town leader. Mayor Whiskers, a cat, elected to honour fisherman who sailed with feline protection.
A short boat trip took their journey to its final destination. The Deadgrass Isle had a coffee shop museum, an animal cemetery and a lighthouse. Milly loved the dramatic paintings but it was nothing compared to the lighthouse. She rolled her eyes at the guide, his stories of how the cats and dogs came to call this town. Ziva told them with more fascination and sound effects. She tugged Vicky, pushing past the detailed descriptions of historical treasures. Time would get away from them, Milly could see the sun setting.