Mum was asleep by the time I got home. There were a few empty bottles near the microwave. That signalled the end of her temporary abstinence then.
I still felt a little bad for Shelby, so I gave her a call. Her father answered first. He said a very strange thing to me. He asked if I was currently in correspondence with his daughter and whether he was expecting her to call me at any point during this correspondence. I was a bit confused but I assumed that it was about the phone bill, so I said I'd be happy to take all the calls from my end. He seemed satisfied and let me talk to Shelby. She was glad I called, I think. We had a bit of a talk about Dylan, but she seemed to want to get off the subject, so I let her talk about other things.
She wanted to know where I worked, and I told her I did weekend shifts at a bookshop in the town centre. I work for a man called Richard Brown, who used to be an actor. Shelby said 'The man at the funeral?' and I said 'Yes, actually.' It was a genuine surprise to see him at the funeral actually. I had no idea we were both in connection with Dylan. I suppose it must have been a coincidence.
Then she asked me about my mother. Not intrusively, she was nice about it. So I admitted that she'd been unwell for as long as I could remember. Out of the two of use, me and my brother, I was the primary care-giver. That was probably because Chris hated her, although I didn't tell her this. 'Her' meaning both Mum and Shelby, I suppose. I went on to say that my parents got divorced three years ago and I chose to stay with Mum. She's not really fit for work at the moment, I explained, but we had an allowance from the government and I was doing some work in retail which just about kept us going.
I asked her a bit about her family. She admitted that her parents had been a bit strict with her as a child, and less so with Dylan. He was the favourite child, apparently, not that it affected Shelby much. Shelby has two jobs - one in the hotel, and one at the late night petrol station. She plays the piano at the village hall sometimes as well.
I said I'd love to talk, but I have a lot to do around the house - perhaps you'd like to meet up next time to talk? So we're meeting up at the Goat's Head in four days. I'm not sure how to deal with a situation like this. She seems to be a very nice girl, very shy but nice, but I'm worried that she's coping with the death in a strange way. I've heard that people cope with bereavement in different ways. I'm just not so sure that trying to form a relationship with a stranger like this is healthy. If she's like this with me I can't imagine what's happening with other people in her life. What if she jumps into the arms of that grocer she told me about?
To be honest, mum can be like that when she's manic. Once I made the mistake of leaving her on her own, and she left the house to go to a pub. She spent all night chatting to total strangers and told me she met some really interesting people. Often enough I've dragged her home from a club and she's been covered in bruises, beaten up or worse. I'm not saying it's easy to live with, but... I dunno.