Treinte y Uno

Gabrielle visited Dominick every day in hospital and in the weeks that followed, Dominick slowly recovered. When he was well enough to be taken out of hospital, Gabrielle took him to stay with Alba and Hermann, there not being enough room in her own flat and him not being able to cope alone. Alba took up the offer gladly, and nursed Dominick carefully. Gabrielle and Alba had grown to become best friends.

As you can imagine, Trudy did not visit the Dennisons during the three months Dominick stayed there, or for a long time after.

It occurred to Gabrielle that he might want to see his family, not having seen them in the (nearly) two years they’d been together and possibly a long time before, and she knew she was right when he talked about Danica. Something about the lost look in his eyes. When she asked if he wanted them to come round, his face lit up like a child at Christmas. At once she ran to find some writing paper.

At home that night, Gabrielle thought for a while. Danica would be twenty-six. Aleksander would be twenty? Liljana would be eleven – how much more grown up! And the new baby, or not so new, Soffie, would be about five?

***

Two weeks later, Marisa, Dominick Senior, Danica, Aleksander, Liljana and Soffie Cardington were standing on the doorstep of the Dennison household.

“I do hope we’re not causing you any trouble. We’re staying in the Riverbank hotel, just down the road. You know the one don’t you?” Marisa fretted.

“Oh it’s no problem, anything for friends. Dominick’s recovered so well. The only problem we have is that such a terrible thing happened in the first place. Tea?” Alba offered.  

She busied herself in the kitchen preparing lunch, while Hermann and Dominick Senior talked, Marisa played with the girls, and Gabrielle and Danica caught up. Danica explained everything that had happened since Gabrielle left.

Aleks went to see Dominick upstairs (he still couldn’t have too many visitors and his room was small anyway) and helped him down to see everyone.  Immediately Soffie, Liljana and Marisa rushed to hug him, and so tightly that he nearly fell and had to be steadied by Aleks.

Alba served up a splendid array of delicacies. Things that she had been making for days: Richmond sausages roast potatoes, salads, breads, cheeses. A feast. Alba was a brilliant cook.

Gabrielle was sat next to Liljana, who didn’t show any recognition to her.

“Hello there. Do you remember me?” Liljana shied a way a little and shook her head, “I’m Gabrielle I used to bring you lemon cookies and things.”

Liljana nodded and smiled. “Gabbie!”

“Yup, and wow you’ve grown! It’s been four years, I believe?” And so the conversation went on.

The next few days were spent with Dominick hopping around the city on crutches, showing his family the colleges, the ice rink, the Parc, the yachting lake and the petting farm.

When the Cardingtons got back to their (new) home, Marisa found an envelope with the words ‘To friends, with love’ printed on the front in a spidery handwriting Gabrielle would have recognised as Hermann’s. Inside was a large bundle of twenty pound notes.

The End

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