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Authors: Aimee Horton

Lush in Translation

BOOK: Lush in Translation
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Lush in Translation

 

 

Aimee Horton

 

 

 

Published by Velvet Morning Press

 

Copyright © 2015 by Aimee Horton

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the
author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of
the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance
toactual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

 

Cover design by
Ellen Meyer and Vicki Lesage

 

 

Introduction

 

After Dottie headed overseas for the
re-release of
Survival of the Ginnest
, I became terribly aware of just
how British she is. This is no surprise—born and raised in a small village in
northeast England, she couldn’t be anything else, and it’s why we all (I hope)
love her as much as we do.

However, for her American friends out
there, I feel it’s only fair I offer you a translation guide for those tougher,
slightly gin-soaked, chapters. So over to Dottie to give you a helping hand…

 

Aimee Horton

England, 2015

 

 

Lush in Translation

 

“Come on Dottie,” I say to myself
taking a deep breath. “You watch
Friends
all the time. Carrie from
Sex
and the City
is your style guru, and
Saved by the Bell
re-runs
basically made you into an American teenager. This shouldn’t be so confusing.”

I’m in the upstairs loo, giving myself
a pep-talk in the mirror. My second cousin (or maybe third or fourth—I can
never remember) from the States is visiting. Pregnant, she and her American
husband are moving back to the UK to be near her parents, and she’s come early
before it’s too late to fly. And because Henry travels so much, everyone
thought I could give her advice on how to cope.

I’m not sure why they think I’m more
qualified than anyone else. I can’t very well tell a pregnant woman that booze
fixes everything.

Things didn’t get off to a great start
if I’m honest. I forgot that “pregnant with first child” feeling of hope. You
know, where any parent that finds their children tiresome at times is obviously
doing it wrong. Well, Brittany (not Britney, sadly) is totally in that stage.
Seven months pregnant and glowing, she couldn’t wait to meet my “little
poppets.”

Like my children can be referred to as
anything other than little devils.

I’d told her they were
doing my head
in
and I was letting
CBeebies
babysit them
.
She’d looked
confused for a moment, until I’d explained they’d been running riot since 5:45
a.m. and I was tired, so I’d plonked them in front of the digital (cable)
television channel dedicated entirely to preschoolers.

“So, CBeebies isn’t an actual person
looking after your babies? You’re just leaving them in front of the
television?” She’d said slowly, her all-American smile slipping slightly from
her face when the realisation hit her.

“No, no… well. I’m here, in the other room,
I’m just…” I can’t carry on because there is no way of making it sound any
better.

It hadn’t gone any better when my
daughter, Mabel, on a mission to tell tales, ran into the kitchen. I was fixing
Brittany a camomile tea and myself a strong coffee as Mabel quickly informed me
that George’s
nappy
had exploded all over his
vest
.

Shit. Quite literally shit.

Seeing Brittany looking puzzled, I had
opened my mouth, ready to explain that a nappy was in fact a
diaper
and
a vest was…

Wait what was a vest in American? Kelly
Kapowski never dealt in baby vests.

A vest is in fact a
onesie
.
However, I didn’t need to bother trying to find the words to explain, as a
stinking George had toddled into the room shouting “Poo! Poo!” at the top of
his voice, giving a visual explanation instead. Whisking him away before she
actually threw up, I quickly cleaned him up before deciding that perhaps it
would be safer for him to have a nap.

Now, George is gurgling in his
cot
,
and I’m taking a few deep breaths wondering how to redeem myself. I’d quite
like to appear as a competent mother in front of this stranger, who has been
watching as I fail dismally.

Come on Dots. The language barrier is
bigger than you thought, but you can do this.

Washing my hands just to be sure, I
brush my jeans and t-shirt down, smooth my slightly unruly curls and head back
downstairs. I try not to look at the pristine bump in front of me, clad in
black Capri
trousers
(pants) and a pink wrap-around blouse that I swear
looks designer.

In the kitchen, Mabel is re-enacting a
scene from
Peppa Pig
for poor Brittany, and in order to save the
situation, I shove some
sweets
(candy) in her direction and usher her
back to the lounge.

“Is Peppa Pig some sort of pet?”
Brittany asks, glancing out of my kitchen window, perhaps looking for signs of
a pigsty in the back garden.

“No no no, it’s a television programme.
Not on CBeebies, though. On another channel.” I don’t say any more
as she looks at me awkwardly for a second before changing the subject.

“So, are you going on
vacation
anywhere this year?” Instinctively I stroke my curls, feeling like I’ve stepped
into an American
hair dressers
(salon).

“Nowhere special.” We’ve not been on
holiday
abroad since we had Mabel. “We tend to find a little cottage in the country
somewhere and do lots of walks, trying to tire the kids out in the desperate
hope for some sort of
lie-in
!”

I laugh, before going on to explain
that a lie-in didn’t actually mean lying in something, but sleeping late in the
morning, something I don’t feel like I’ve done for years.

“Oh!
Sleeping in
?” she asks
enthusiastically. “I’m so excited. Since I’ve been over here with Mom and Dad,
I’ve been sleeping in a lot. It’s great to be off work. I can’t wait for Tim to
be over here, and us all to have snuggly weekend lie-ins. Coffee and papers in
bed, the baby in the
crib
next to us.” She continues, her face lighting
up with a smile.

Do I have the heart to tell her I had a
similar dream and in reality anything that starts with a “7” is considered a
lie-in?

I decide against it as I hear George
stir and realise it’s time to collect Arthur from his
football
(soccer)
lesson.

“I’m just going to grab the kids,” I
say, standing up and quickly rinsing our mugs and drying them with a
tea
towel
(dish towel). “Could you just grab the
pushchair
… sorry,
stroller
,
from the hall? Thanks.” Racing upstairs I scoop up a sweeter-smelling George,
and call to Mabel in the lounge. She begins to argue with me, and not wanting
to cause another scene I promise her a bag of buttons for the walk back if
she’s good.

Turning to Brittany I don’t even bother
to try and cover up. “You know, I always said I wouldn’t bribe, but sometimes
you just have to go with it. Mini bags of buttons are in fact mini bags of
candy—about eight in a pack, and if it makes the walk to school easier, it’s
totally worth it.”

Brittany doesn’t respond, but stands
quietly by the front door as I strap George in and dangle the purple bag of
chocolate in front of Mabel while she slips her wellies on her feet, before
shoving the buttons into my pocket for later.

We walk in silence. I’m pretending
Brittany is taking in our picturesque village, but I have a feeling she’s lost
in thought about how she is going to parent completely opposite to me.
Especially as I notice a smear of snot on Mabel’s cheek that, by the looks of
it, has been there for a while.

We approach the edge of the pavement
and just as I’m turning to grab Mabel’s hand I say, “Watch out for cars on that
zebra crossing
. People tend to speed around the corner without stopping
for pedestrians!” I hear a scream and manage to yank Brittany by the coat back
onto the
pavement
(sidewalk) as a
4x4
does an emergency stop.

“I was looking for a zebra! You meant
crosswalk
didn’t you?” Brittany is panting, her hand on her bump. The driver looks
angrily at us, and winds down his window.

“Should’ve looked where you were going,
love!” he shouts, then drives off before I can shout after him that perhaps he
should too.

“Are you OK?” I ask, and Brittany nods.

“I didn’t know
SUVs
could go that
fast on such winding roads.” She pauses for a second then says, “Let’s just
keep going.”

We continue in an uncomfortable
silence, and that’s pretty much how it stays the rest of the afternoon. We head
home, the kids running ahead but stopping at the edge of each road, waiting
until I come and help them to cross.

This never happens. They are totally
getting extra ice cream tonight for making me look marginally better.

It’s Friday, so the kids are excited to
have their traditional Friday treat of
fish fingers and chips
(fish
sticks and French fries) for tea, before running around the garden like
loonies.

I make Brittany another camomile tea,
and catch her looking longingly at my coffee. “I used to love coffee with
cream.”

“Would you like one? I’m sure one wouldn’t
hurt.”

Smiling, she shakes her head.

At least she’s smiling.

Finally, the alarm on my phone starts
to ring, signalling that it’s time to start the bedtime routine.

What? Don’t tell me you don’t count
down to bedtime.

I take the kids upstairs, leaving
Brittany in the kitchen gazing out quietly over the garden. She’s probably
wondering why the hell she agreed to stay with us. Luckily, Henry will be home
soon and he’ll be able to charm the socks off her.

Forty-five minutes later, I race
downstairs with a tired and angry George on my hip.

“Hey, Brittany, could you pass me that
dummy
please?” I ask, indicating over her shoulder while I grab a toddler cup from
the fridge, already filled with milk.

At the precise moment Brittany turns
around to see what I’m talking about, Henry walks in through the back door.

“You’re calling your husband a dummy?”
she exclaims, as Henry swoops in and picks up what I actually meant.


Pacifier
.” He beams at her,
before holding out his hand. “You must be Brittany. I’m Henry. Let me relieve
Dottie from the bedtime scrum, and then I’ll introduce myself properly when the
horrors are in bed!”

Handing him George, I tell Henry I’ll
be up in a minute for kisses before turning to my guest. At once silence descends
on the room, and I feel calmer, more in control.

“I don’t know about you,” I begin, “but
I’m pooped.” I rummage in the drawers and pull out our trusty take-away folder.
“Do you fancy a take out?” I grin and hand her the pizza delivery menu.

Smiling the first genuine smile since
she arrived, Brittany takes the menu and settles onto the stool at the
breakfast bar. Just as I think everything’s going to be OK, she bursts into
tears.

“Dottie, I think I had the wrong idea
about parenting. I don’t think it’s going to be as relaxing as I first
thought.”

I put my arm around her, realising I’d
mistaken her silence for judgement, when actually it was sheer panic.

“Ach, you’ll be a lot calmer than I am.
My children are just horrible,” I say, giving her a hug. Her crying slows down,
and she turns to look at me.

“I’m not so sure. I think they’re cute…
but will you help me?”

“Of course.” I say. “The most important
bit of advice I can give you—and it’s the same advice my mother gave me—is
make
sure your cupboard is always full of coffee, and your fridge is always full of
gin and tonic…”

BOOK: Lush in Translation
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