64. Be Here Now

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Remember, Now, Be Here Now
As it's not like it was before.


I lean into the dressing table mirror, inspecting my reflection critically, separating strands of my freshly cut fringe with my fingers.

'What do you think?' Minnie asks, standing behind me, scissors still in hand.

I haven't had a haircut in ten months. My fringe is springing up from the sudden loss of weight, curling at the ends, no matter how many times Minnie wets it to try to straighten it. I won't let her put any of her - many - hair products on it.

'It's nice, thanks,' I reply.

'Is it short enough? At the front?' she asks, still fussing, pulling the bits at the front straight, checking they're the same length. 'I could take another half inch off?'

'No, no, it's fine. Short enough.'

It's nice to have a proper haircut again, even if it was only Minnie who's cut it. She used to cut my hair when we were kids, still in Liverpool. She's not all that bad at it. She's chopped about two or three inches off the length - it's still long, below my shoulders - and cut my fringe back in. I think I look better with a fringe. I hate seeing my forehead. Still, it's strange seeing myself like this. I don't quite recognise myself. Maybe that's just because of the enormous bump I carry in front of me.

'I'll do your makeup next,' she says, setting the scissors down on the dressing table. 'Then your nails.'

'Oh, no, that's alright. Just the haircut will be enough for today.'

'Don't be silly,' Minnie replies, crouching down to root through one of the two large shopping bags of brushes and bottles, potions and perfumes and accessories, she's brought to the flat.

It's strange to see her in our bedroom at Bobby's flat. For so long it was a solitary hideout for me and George. No members of the outside world allowed in. Recently, there's been a procession of people. The midwife, a plumber, Minnie has been here twice and a guy came on Tuesday to change the locks on the front door. I thought that was wise after Bobby's letter. Despite this, I can't think of the flat as mine. The deeds for it were under the kitchen sink, like Bobby said, but it doesn't feel like I own it. I think it will always be Bobby's flat.

'You'll feel better with a bit of powder on your face,' Minnie says, pulling out several makeup brushes and compacts. 'A bit of blush to put colour in your cheeks. Not too much, I promise. Wouldn't do for a pregnant woman to be walking around looking like a Friday night special.'

I frown at her as she returns to stand behind me, putting colours of eyeshadow next to my skin. 'Something copper, or orange,' she muses. 'Brings out the colour of your eyes.'

'Minnie, I don't want makeup or nail polish. The haircut was all I needed.'

She widens her eyes at me, as if I'm being ridiculous, and carries on regardless. 'Turn around.'

I sigh inwardly and spin round on the stool to face her. There's no arguing with her about things like this. Minnie sits on the end of the bed.

'So then, how are things?' she asks, attempting innocence but sounding loaded anyway. She's rubbing the powder in that compact much too ardently.

'What things?'

'You know. With the baby and that.'

'Fine. Alright. You were there.'

Minnie's gone to every one of my clinic and doctor's appointments, of which there have been many. I feel like I've been to one almost every day, but I have missed a lot previously, of course. George and I have to keep a distance in public at the moment, not that he'd go with me anyway. None of the other women have their husbands with them. Most are on their own, but I'm glad I have Minnie. I plucked up the courage on Monday to ask the doctor if the baby was alright. 'Because I haven't been to see anyone,' I said, but I meant because of what Ricky did. He looked at me like I was stupid and said all was as expected. I'm not sure what that means.

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