When Millie heard about the neighbours’ divorce her thoughts went straight to the children. In an odd way she had always thought herself a part of their lives, even though she had only occasion babysit them, joined in on birthdays and said hi in passing. What would become of them if they moved away? It was such a weird thought that she scolded herself for trying to pretend they were her family. It had felt like they always had been though and hadn’t she once dreamed of having children like them?
‘Did you hear me?’ her mum’s gossiping voice cut through her thoughts.
‘Yes,’ Millie said slowly and then carried on staring at nothing in particular.
Her mum mumbled and pulled the car away from the traffic lights. The roads were emptying at this time of evening and the journey was going smoothly.
‘What happened?’ she asked suddenly, ‘I knew they were going through a bad patch. You told me about that, remember? But I haven’t had a chance to speak to Lucy yet.’
‘That was months ago!’ mum laughed.
‘I’ve been busy,’ Millie said defensively, glaring at her.
Unfortunately, they both knew it was a lie. Millie sighed and slide down the passenger seat. Her view changed so that now she could only see the edges of the road and lot more of the dusky sky. She crossed her arms and refused to get into another argument. Feeling her mum glancing at her, she turned back, still desperate to know the other details.
‘Apparently, Lucy’s had enough of Andy’s aggressive temper,’ mum picked up.
‘Understandable, he’s always been brash towards me. I thought it was a front or something though. A part of his personality?’
Mum scoffed, ‘No.’
Millie turned away again and tried to act disinterested. However, she knew that now the ball was rolling her mother wasn’t going to shut up about it. She bit her lip then let her chestnut coloured hair out of its pony tail and spilling over her shoulders. Checking the dashboard clock, she saw there was twenty minutes still to go. Why for once couldn’t time go faster? She thought.
‘Lucy said it started around the time you asked about driving lessons and he refused. Since then it’s just fallen apart. He’s still out of work and seems to be having a middle-life crisis. Problem is he’s decided to drag her and the kids down too. She just can’t cope.’
‘Has he been violent?’ Millie kicked in.
Her mum shot her a disgusted look, ‘Of course not. Do you really think he’d risk that? Though he does seem very capable…’
‘I should go over…see if she wants any help with Jenny and Billy.’
‘I asked her to come to you, Mill. I said we wouldn’t mind…just I didn’t want to get mixed up in anything. Nobody should get involved in someone else’s divorce. Are you okay?’
Wiping a tear from her eye, Millie nodded.