When Errol called, wanting to talk, Odetta felt uneasy. ‘Is it about Gary?’

‘I’m not trying to open old wounds, O. I just want to tell you what’s been happening.’

‘Alright, Errol. Let’s meet tomorrow.’

She slept fitfully that night. Gary hadn’t just let her down. He’d dived into a mire of irresponsibility and dragged her down with him. Even getting ready to meet Errol reminded her. Gone were most of her nice things. She hid her hard-set expression beneath pharmacy-brand lipstick.

Errol said she was looking good.

‘Don’t bullshit me, E. I look like crap.’

‘You look OK. Really.’

‘Thanks.’ She kissed his cheek before taking the seat he’d offered. ‘You’d better tell me what you think I ought to know.’

‘Gaz asked if I’d talk to you. He’s missing you. I told him it was a bit late. But he is getting help. I think he’s stopped punting. He’d like to see you.’

Odetta rubbed her forehead. ‘Why?’

‘He’s lonely. He’s trying to get things together.’

‘If we had kids there’d be a reason. But there’s no reason. Not for me. He was a bad choice then. He’d be worse now.’ She looked at Errol and wondered what might have been. ‘So how’s the family, E?’

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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