Dominic and Carmel

''Hello Dom.''  I said, in as steady a tone as I could manage.

''Carm.'' he replied, sounding cheerful, but looking trapped.  His eyes were everywhere but on me. 

''How did you do?''  I was referring to his degree, and he knew it.  He looked down at his feet, then at my left shoulder, and eventually replied to my hair. 

''Oh.  I didn't carry on.  Got bored.  You know.''

Actually, I didn't.  I had loved the past three years.   Academia suited me, but I said:

''Yeah.  Suppose so,''  I was looking straight at him, and his eyes flicked across mine, then came back, settled, then narrowed slightly, before looking at the stage.  He was restless.  I could tell he didn't want to be there.  Not at all.   I wondered why he'd agreed to come.  He must have known it would be awkward.

I should have relished his discomfiture, but all I really felt was annoyance at Chiara for inflicting this on him.  I glared at her, in her position, leaning against the wall behind him, smirking.

''So, what are you up to now?'' I asked.

''Oh.... bit of bar work, this and that.  You know.''

What a waste.  What an awful waste of that talent, that mind.  He was still fidgeting, looking around.  I wondered if he was on something.  If he was, I was surprised.  At school he'd always had a very low opinion of anyone who took mind-altering substances, even alcohol. 

''So... you okay, then, Carm?'' he asked my left arm.  I was beginning to feel as uncomfortable as he looked, and I thought it was time to put us both out of his misery. 

''Fine, ta.  We'll chat later.'' I said.  ''They'll be starting soon.  Better find my seat. ''

During the presentations, I looked towards where my parents sat.  Chiara and Dom were sitting together, but looking less than the happy young couple.  She had her hand resting lightly on his knee, but that knee was crossed over his other leg, and his upper body was angled away from her.  He was still looking around.  I didn't think I'd seen him look at Chiara once.  Any jealousy I might have felt was chased away by curiosity.

After the photographs and the handshakes and the hugs, I took my mother to one side and asked her how long Chiara and Dom had been together.  She told me she didn't know, but that it hadn't been very long.  Chiara hadn't mentioned anyone special, over the last couple of years.

''She mainly goes out to those clubs with her friends from the salon, love.'' she said.  ''Only brought this one home last week, and said he was her fiance.   It was a bit out of the blue.  I didn't want him to come along today, but she threatened to stay away herself if he didn't.''

''Well, to be honest, Mum, I kind of wish she had.'' I looked over at the two of them.  They were sitting at one of the tables, not talking; not touching.  ''I wouldn't have missed her, and he just looks as if he'd rather be anywhere than here.''

''I do wish you two girls got on better, Carmel.'' said my mother.  ''I was hoping you'd get closer as you got older, but...''

I put my arm round her shoulder.  ''Don't worry, Mum.''  I said.  ''We don't have much in common, that's all.  We both love you and Dad though.''  I gave her a hug.  ''And thank you so much for supporting me for the last three years.''

I looked over at Dominic.  He had his head turned in my direction, but quickly - too quickly - turned it away when he saw me looking.  Chiara saw the sudden movement and looked at me.  Her expression made me catch my breath.

I'd always known that she disliked me, but the look she gave me put me in no doubt about how she really felt.

You would have liked to be the only child, wouldn't you, Chiara?  And you wish I wasn't here now.

The End

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