Elizabeth watched as her cousin Mary carefully negotiated her way through the tables and chairs. The tray appeared to rest on her growing bump. Elizabeth wondered if she should have been more persistent offering to carry it but she was weary after trailing around the shops and glad of the rest.
Mary on the other hand was wearing her serene expression, fully content and happy with the world. Pregnancy always suited her.
“A latte for you and hot chocolate for me.” It was loaded with whipped cream, little pink marshmallows and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
“Are you off coffee again this time?”
“Even the smell was too much in the early days.” Mary eased herself into the chair.
“We could have stopped somewhere else rather than a coffee shop.”
“No they have the nicest loos here and this baby does like jumping on my bladder.”
Elizabeth envied her cousin that magnificent feeling of life wriggling inside you. “Remember when John leapt in my tummy that time you visited?”
Mary giggled licking cream from her top lip. She was still such a young girl although mother to almost four children.
“You’re looking tired Elizabeth. I do hope all this shopping hasn’t tired you out?”
“Just age catching up with me I suppose.”
Mary studied her cousin. Although there were more lines on her face and her hair was now completely white she was still a very striking woman.
Elizabeth let out a huge sigh and Mary wished she hadn’t asked.
She remembered John’s obsessive nature, “does he still have his camel hair collection?”
“He’s woven a coat from it and wears it all the time.” Elizabeth sounded exasperated.
“It’s a phase. Teenagers you know.” Mary was thankful for her own eldest son. He was a bit dreamy, but so good with the younger children and always helping his dad in the workshop. He had made the most beautiful crib for the new baby with animals carved inside to watch the child sleeping.
She risked asking another question about her nephew, “What about girlfriends?”
“A string of them.” Elizabeth’s mood seemed to lift. “As strange as my boy is he has always drawn a crowd.”
“I remember the boys’ playing together, John always was the trailblazer, striding out ahead.”
Mary recalled that summer’s day a couple of years ago when their two sons had been splashing together in the pool. John pushing his younger cousin completely under the water.
Her own son responded by sprinkling an arc of rainbow coloured droplets over John’s head. There was something so precious about that day.
“If only they could stay children forever.”
Elizabeth reached for Mary’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
The baby leapt with joy.
“Have you time for another hot chocolate?” Elizabeth asked brightly.
“Why not,” replied Mary enjoying the company. “I don’t have to cook tonight. Jesus is making tea – he does miracles with bread and fish.”
“Lucky you – John’s doing locusts in honey for us – think I might have a slice of cake!”
Elizabeth smiled, rose from her chair and found her own way through the chairs and tables to place their order.