Doing it For the Kids - Chapter One
"Guys! Please!" Violet held each of the seven year old twins at arm's length. "You'll both get what you want; there really is no need to fight!"
Violet held a hand up and silenced Ethan, the louder and three minute older of the two children, "If Emma wants the chocolate cake, then you have a different one, you can have the chocolate one next time."
Both children were transfixed on the supermarket box of four cream cakes that sat on the kitchen table. Violet chuckled, it was so endearing that this small treat meant so much to them, and she was equally glad they hadn't seen the yellow bargain sticker that meant that the cakes wouldn't be so great in the morning. They were so uncomplaining, so easily pleased.
"Who's having number four?" Emma's voice was quiet but insistent.
Violet turned to her questioning, "The fourth one?" Both twins nodded and she grinned, "Well maybe Matt is calling in later?"
They both whooped excitedly, running around the room. They both loved Violet's best friend Matt, and he loved, and ridiculously spoiled them. But she did concede that they deserved it. Times were hard and there were few luxuries.
The two wolfed down their dinner then danced around the table whilst she finished hers. As she was just clearing the dishes, the doorbell rang and both Emma and Ethan raced to the door, knowing that the happy face of Uncle Matt would be there beaming down at them.
Violet was filling the kettle when she heard his voice at kitchen door.
"Stop with the coffee! I fancy beer with the cream cake I've heard ALL about!"
She turned to see him stood holding a case of beer, the two kids hanging off his arms with glee.
Ten minutes later they were sat with the lavish cakes on individual plates, the kids with milk, the adults with beer. Needless to say Emma and Ethan's barely lasted seconds before they were once again fighting for the attention of Matt.
"Right guys! Let me just chat with Violet, and then I'll come and play hide and seek, ok?"
Squealing they both ran into the lounge to hide.
Matt turned back to her, "you ok? You look worried."
Violet shrugged, "it's the usual Matt, no money, not enough hours in the day. I don't think I can keep doing this."
He grabbed her hands and squeezed them, "don't be so negative darling, you are doing SO well. Look at those two," he nodded behind them towards the lounge, "they're really settled, you'd never think that it's only been six months."
She nodded, fighting the tears that threatened to flood from her eyes, "they're taking it almost TOO well......maybe better than I am?"
"It was never going to be easy Vi; you knew that, I mean you were supposed to be what....in Australia by now?"
Violet glanced at the calendar, "probably some little Indonesian island. Some tropical paradise being fanned by a half naked hunk, drinking some lavish cocktail....." she turned to him, "and instead it's two months till their first Christmas without our mother and I haven't even got a tree! I'm skint Matt. I don't know how we'll survive."
"We get by, and you've got friends, we all want to help out..." he silenced her protests with a raised hand, "don't give me the charity thing, the pride thing....we all love those kids, and we all want them to have a good life, they deserve it. You deserve it!"
Violet nodded, "I know, and I'm too desperate to be proud. We'll take anything that's on offer!"
It was so hard for her as such a moralistic and proud person to admit she needed help, but at twenty four she had no idea that she'd been left to bring up two beautiful and funny twins. She'd been on a beach in New Zealand enjoying part one of her Round the World Trip, when her mother had called. The news that she was suffering with ovarian cancer was bad enough, but the fact that it was terminal in weeks not months, meant she'd had to fly home immediately to no job, no money, but a family to manage and keep together.
Every time she thought she'd had enough, she thought about foster care and knew she could never let them down. She just wished she had better resources to give them the best.
As he cracked open another beer for them both, she tried to forget the pile of red bills, the appointments with the bank manager the next day, and lived for the pleasure of an evening with her family.
The twins were long in bed before Matt had to leave. His girlfriend Jo picked him up on her way home from work. Once he'd left, Violet could no longer ignore tomorrow's imminent appointment with the bank. She owed on the mortgage, she owed for utilities. She regretted everything and nothing. A year ago she'd given up her job as a teacher and gone off on the trip of a lifetime. She'd been with John for two years, and they'd both been desperate to travel. The devastation that had followed the phone call from her mother was still fresh, still raw, and John had continued with their dream trip. Of course she'd encouraged him to do that, but she never really expected him to. She was now relegated to an odd email or post card.
Oh yes, things had changed dramatically in the last year. She was now guardian of twins, unemployed and about to get evicted if she didn't find a way of earning money somehow. She'd applied for temporary work through the local council, but as she needed to take and collect the twins to school, she couldn't fully commit to any work she was offered. The twins were coping well, but she was so aware that it was due to her sticking to the routine her mother had painstakingly maintained on her death bed than them actually coping with their loss. They were everything and at night in bed alone, the tears were for them, for the difficult teenage years they'd endure without their mother.
Breakfast was as chaotic a time as dinner had been - cereal, toast, and orange juice being guzzled all in time to the tinny sounds of 80's rock blasting from the small radio on the window sill.
"Right guys! Clean teeth, then we'll leave!"
"Oh Vi!" Ethan started to complain, but then she gave him 'the look', the one she'd perfected from her mother and he followed his sister up the stairs to the bathroom.
As she was finding coats and school bags, the postman delivered the day's mail, and amongst the usual bills and final demands was a letter embossed with Samuel and Hodgson, her mother's lawyer. Maybe this at least would be notification that her estate was being passed to the three of them, and that would mean her life insurance. It wasn't much, but it would at least secure them a happier Christmas.
"Come on guys! You've got 90 seconds!"
She shouted as she ripped open the envelope. It was a request to meet with one of the partners as soon as possible.
With a sigh, she wrapped the complaining twins up against the early winter frost.
"So what have you got on today guys? Sport? Computers?"
Emma chuckled, "we're practicing for our play!"
"Ah!" Violet took a hand each as she shut the door and they strolled along the street. "So are you both in the play?"
Emma nodded, "I am the Rater!"
"The rater? What do you have to do?"
"I tell the story about the shepherds and the wise men coming to see the baby Jesus!"
Violet chuckled, "you're the Narrator! That's so good. Ethan what are you?"
He shrugged, "don't care!"
She paused and stopped to squat down beside him, "well I care! I want to be at the front taking photographs of my best boy being in the play!"
He smiled coyly, "I'm Joseph!"
"That's the MOST important person there! You've got to look after Mary and the baby!"
Nodding proudly, "and I ask....'Is there room in the Inn?"
"Well it sure sounds like you don't need any more rehearsing!"
In the school yard, they ran off to play with friends as they waited for the bell that signaled the start of the day. She smiled politely at some of the other parents that she'd come to recognize over the last few months, and once the bell sounded, Emma and Ethan rushed over to her grabbed their bags and after a hug rushed off to class - leaving her with a few hours to herself.