Ruth was standing by the patio doors watching her three grandchildren mucking around in the back garden, while Nathan and Hannah prepared dinner the family. Hannah heard her mother sign as she took a sip of red wine from her wine glass.
"You okay mum?"
Ruth turned towards her daughter, offering a small smile, if a little forced from her lips.
"Fine darling, just fine." She said, as she turned back to the doors.
Nathan drained the pasta before popping it back in to the saucepan as Hannah added her home-made sauce.
"She doesn't want to be here Hannah." He whispered to his wife.
"Well tough luck, she needs looking after until her arm heals, so she's stuck with us."
"I'm not deaf you know." Ruth suddenly spoke up, as she walked over to the counter, putting down her glass.
"Sorry Ruth, it's just you look…" Nathan began.
"No, god no that's not what I was going to say at all I…"
"It's al-right Nathan, I know I can be an old battleaxe."
"For god sakes mum, cut it out will you. You're not a prisoner here. You are free to come and go as you please. It's only been a week and you're treating us like your captors. All we want to do is help you recover mother, so stop being so…"
Ruth could see Hannah was beginning to mix her words, which she always did when she became angry and frustrated.
"A bitch?" Ruth replied with a grin on her face.
"Yes." Hannah said as she slammed the spatula on the side of the worktop.
"Hannah?" Nathan began.
"I'm going for a shower before dinner, I won't be long."
Hannah stormed upstairs, Nathan picking up the spatula, before giving Ruth a disapproving look.
"Was that really necessary Ruth?"
No you're right, I apologise. Look I'm not really that hungry, I might just go out for a walk."
"Ruth you need to eat?"
"Save me some, I'll have it later."
Ruth made her way in to the hallway, putting on her camel coloured long coat before leaving the house, Nathan watching her from the doorway.
Ruth stood outside the house for a few moments, unsure of where she was heading. She thought for a few minutes before getting out her phone and sending a text to the number she had saved a week before. She made her way towards Hyde Park, she walked for a good half hour before taking a seat on one of the benches as she waited for her guest. She looked out on to the river, watching people as the ran past on their evening jogs, young couples taking advantage of the warm evening they had been blessed with, she closed her eyes, taking in the quietness around her, birds lightly chirping above her.
The older woman heard the familiar voice, as she slowly opened her eyes and looked up to see the younger woman smiling down at her.
"Sorry I'm a little late, I couldn't fine my house key."
"It's quite al-right, I've not been here long."
"May I?" She signalled to sit down.
"Of course." Ruth smiled as she slid along.
Ruth noticed that Amy sat closer to Ruth, despite plenty of space on the bench to allow her to spread out a little.
"Thank you for coming at such short notice, I know you're busy?" Ruth added.
"It's fine, I did tell you to call me any time, day or night."
"Yes I know but, you're a busy woman, lives to save. Taking you away from that is inappropriate."
"Ruth, talk to me."
Amy's voice was so welcoming to her, genuine, warm and gentle. As much as she loved her daughter, she always felt as though Hannah's attention to her mother was more out of duty rather than genuine help.
"I just had to get out of the house, I love my daughter but…I just couldn't take any more mollycoddling."
"She's your daughter and she just wants to look after you."
"She has her own life, her own family to look after, without adding me in to the mix. It's not fair to her, and I'm beginning to resent her for it."
"For wanting to help you?"
"I know it sounds ridiculous, perhaps I'm just being cruel to her. I've never been the kind of mother she deserved, any of my daughters if I'm honest. I spent so much time working to keep a roof over their head and food on the table when Oscar left."
"My ex-husband, he was never really but out for fatherhood. Perhaps neither of us were, that's why we messed it up so badly."
"Ruth you are one of the most sought after and renowned lawyers in the country, your name terrifies even the hardest of men. I'd hardly call such a lustrous career messing up?"
Ruth finally turned to look at Amy to see such concern in her eyes for the older woman.
"You're lovely for saying that, thank you Amy."
"Hey, I mean every word. You're daughters love you, and know how hard you had to work to give them the best of everything."
"You've only met Hannah?"
"Yes and judging by the way she spoke of you to me, I'd like to think your other two are the same."
"I've never thought to ask them, perhaps I'm scared of their answers."
"I wouldn't, you're loved Ruth."
Ruth smiled softly at Amy, as the younger woman lay a hand of Ruth's good one.
"How's the arm." Amy asked.
"It's not too bad, a little painful when I forget."
"You're still taking your pain relief?"
"And what about the other tablets?"
"The anti-depressants? Yes."
"Really, you don't sound very sure about that?"
"They just make me feel, I don't know…not me. I'm always so in control and when I take them, I just don't feel controlled."
"It can take time to adjust to the dosage, you need to persist with them, when your body finally accepts them, you'll feel like a new woman, but you have to keep on with them, unless you're telling me you feel absolutely fine now? You put your hand through a wall, you cut yourself and didn't go to hospital for days after. If you had been in the right frame of mind, would you still have done so?"
"It's unlikely, no…I know you're right. I'm just a little scared I think, silly isn't it."
Amy moved a closer, filling the small gap between them. Ruth feeling Amy's arm going around her shoulder.
"It all takes time, and as I said before, you have to persist and be patient, both with the medication and with your family, try not to take things out on them, they don't fully understand it all."
"But you do."
"As a doctor, yes I do…only too well. That's why I want to help you, why I gave you my number. That and as I said when I first met you, I like you."
Ruth wasn't sure what she meant by the last part of the sentence so only offered a smile.
"Why don't you come back to my flat, it's only ten minutes away, I can make us something to eat, and we can talk some more if you like, then I can drive you home."
"I'd like that, thank you."
Amy saw some tears in Ruth's eyes, giving her good hand a gentle squeeze.
"Come on, it's not far."
Ruth got up and walked along the park with Amy, the younger woman's hand warm on her back.
To Be Continued…