“It’s happened again.” Mum’s I-told-you-so voice at the other end of the phone. There’s almost a note of triumph.
“There’s been another visit and he’s upped sticks and gone. No thought about leaving me on my own.”
“The aliens, is it?”
“I’ll be right over, Mum.”
I grab the overnight bag I keep handy these days, hop straight into the Mini and head for the motorway on-ramp. Not again, I’m thinking. I push the button on the dashboard that dials my sister’s number.
“It’s just a ploy to get us out there more often,” says Brenna. We take it in turns. The phone call comes; one of us rushes over; everything seems to settle for a few weeks. Then Mum’ll ring again.
“I don’t know. It happens just as often if we go fortnightly or weekly. There’s no pattern. What did the psychologist say?”
“The same thing the neurologist said; the same thing the psychiatric nurse said. No sign of dementia, no other signs of psychosis.” Brenna’s sigh drifts through the dashboard and settles in the car’s interior like a winter fog. “I’ve given up trying to explain it to her.”
“What’s the point, right?”
“Maybe if she hadn’t been in hospital with pneumonia,” says Brenna. “And had to miss the funeral.”
I lower the window to see if the incoming breeze might dissipate our shared despondency. “Why aliens, though?”
“I know!” Now I can hear the smile in Brenna’s voice and it lifts me. “Do you think they’re green and sporting antennae or slim and silver with huge eyes?” she asks.
“Flitting through the universe in a giant teapot. Anyway, who’s to say it’s not better like this?” I say. “Her way of coping.”
“Give her my love. Tell her I’ll be over next weekend.”
Our family home is only half an hour away. She’s stood in the front garden like a sun dial. Face upturned, looking hard at the sky.
“I miss him, you know,” she says.
“We all do, Mum. We all do.”