Juliette reached the entrance to the nursing home and firmly pressed the old brass bell.
“Hello, Juliette Spiers to see my mother Sandra Spiers, please” she spoke briskly into the crackly intercom box to her right and the heavy oak door made a buzzing and clicking sound as it began to open. Stepping swiftly through the gap she hurried down the long dark corridor in her navy-blue heels, the old patterned carpet muffling her steps.
Arriving at her mothers’ door she began to raise her hand to knock and announce her arrival, but stopped to admire the diamond ring her fiancé had placed upon her finger three weeks ago. It was so beautiful, she thought to herself as she twisted her hand to catch the sparkle in the light, enjoying the unfamiliar weight on her hand.
Joseph was a good man, she was a lucky lady to have captured his heart. She had almost given up hope of him ever proposing, when he surprised her on her 30th birthday, and Juliette had never been happier.
“Well,” she thought,” If it wasn’t for just one tiny thing….” And she raised her hand again to knock firmly on her mother’s door before entering without waiting to be asked.
Sandra looked up as she entered, a vague smile of confusion floated uncertainly across her face as she saw her daughter. Juliette had to swallow down the familiar bite of annoyance and cover it with a bright smile as she crossed the room.
“Hi, mum” she held Sandra quickly in a small hard embrace, “How have you been?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Sandra replied, nodding her head and wringing her hands absently “yes, yes.”
Juliette sighed in frustration, “It’s me mum, come on, you remember me, don’t you?” shaking her head, she took a seat next to her mother on the small shabby sofa.
“Look, Mum,” she tried again, “I’ve come here to tell you something important. Can’t you try to understand?” she looked into Sandra’s bemused eyes, “I need you to pay attention ok?”
Juliette reached forward to grasp her mother’s hands but Sandra’s eyes widened in alarm and she drew back, suddenly afraid, “No, no, no, no, no, no, NO!” Her head shaking her rejection from side to side, her voice rising in panic.
Juliette cast her eyes to the door nervously but no-one came to investigate and so, after waiting a few minutes for Sandra to calm down again, she decided to try a more direct approach. Holding her left hand up to her mothers face she waggled her fingers so that the diamond sparkled and caught Sandra’s attention.
“Nice isn’t it Mum?” she crowed delightedly, “I’m getting married at last! Finally, I’m going to be a bride, can you believe it?!”
Suddenly her mothers gaze seemed to focus and sharpen as she looked up at Juliette, reaching for her hand to admire the ring. Sandra smiled up at her, clapping her hands, and sang, “Ohhh lovely, lovely, lovely, LOV-ER-LY”
“Yes, well,” Juliette snatched her hand away, “He is a perfectly lovely man, Mum. His name is Joseph and he works in finance. Which is hilarious really,” she cackled, “As he hasn’t a clue about his own finances!”
Leaning forward furtively she whispered, “I’ve spent thousands, Mum, thousands! And he has NO IDEA!” she imparted gleefully, her devious blue eyes alight. “Just a little at a time, obviously,” she continued, sitting back in her chair and tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “There’s no need to look at me like that mother, he has it to spare and more. Besides it will be half mine soon anyway so it’s not even being dishonest really. You could consider it a deposit or an advance payment, Ha Ha. Actually, that’s kind of why I’m here.”
She turned again to look pitifully at her mother, “This dementia thing actually does have its perks after all, hey? I can tell you anything and you won’t remember a damn thing I say, will you? How convenient!”
Sandra regarded her daughter solemnly, wide-eyed and bewildered as she looked at her warily. But Juliette just laughed, “Oh don’t look so worried, Mum, I’m paying it all back, don’t you worry. Or rather, you are! Ha Ha, that’s what’s so brilliant Mum. I’ve been worried about the wedding since he proposed. Once we start paying for the wedding things he’s going to notice that money is missing. But then it just came to me, I realised if I had your inheritance then it would be the answer to all of my problems. I could pay the money back into darling Joseph’s account and he would be none the wiser. Because we can’t have him finding out, now can we? At least, not until we are safely married anyway.”
Juliette leant a little bit closer and loomed over her mothers’ slight frame, “So you see mother,” she smiled, “You can actually finally help me after all of these years. You’ll probably be relieved to know that you won’t have to live here anymore. Actually, Mum, you won’t have to LIVE anywhere!”
Standing up and brushing down her crisp, navy suit she glanced around the room and spotted Sandra’s bag and coat on the chair near the door. Collecting them together she took them to Sandra and encouraged her to put them on.
“Come on, then, Mum, let’s go for a little walk in the gardens shall we? Its such a beautiful day, we could walk along the river” Juliette linked her arm through Sandra’s and led her unprotestingly through the door, “You’d like that wouldn’t you?” she spoke gently now, encouragingly “Of course you will, come on now, let’s get you signed out,”.