Ōkami briefly considered telling Ranmaru about his most recent interaction with Sanada Takeo. Briefly considered telling his friend about his suspicions.
Des looked sheepish. ‘Uh, well, something like that.’Mira gave him a stern look as Jamie screamed.
‘In this country they think it is so hilarious that nobody knows anything about babies, and the grandmothers, they say, Oh, I will not interfere with the babies, and the aunties, they say, Oh, I am too busy to help with the babies, and everybody ignores the babies and buys stupid books about the babies and watches stupid television about the babies,’ she said fiercely. ‘Babies are always the same. Adults, not so much. Give me a knife.’Issy and Des looked at each other.‘Uh, what?’ said Issy.
‘Knife. I need a knife.’Des put up his hands. ‘Honestly, we can’t take much more of this at home. Ems is sleeping at her mum’s as it is. I’m going bananas. I’ve started to see ghosts out of the corner of my eye.’
‘You’re not having a knife,’ said Issy. Somewhat nervously, she handed Mira a serrated knife. Quick as a flash, Mira stuck Jamie down on his back on the sofa, pinned down his arms and made two little darts inside his mouth with the knife. Jamie screamed the place down.
‘What … what have you done?’ said Des, grabbing Jamie up from the sofa and cradling him in his arms. Mira shrugged. As Des glared at her he noticed that Jamie, once the initial shock and pain had passed, was gradually calming down. His great heaving gulps of air grew slower and slower, and his tense, infuri ated little body started to relax. He nestled his head lovingly into his father’s chest, and once again, no doubt utterly exhausted from his painful, sleepless nights, his eyelids started to droop.‘What are you doing anyway? Where are you going?’
‘Out,’ said Helena. ‘It’s a kind of place and it’s not your house and not your shop. Things happen there that people talk about called current affairs and social life.’Normally she’d have told Issy straight away what she was up to. But she was torn – partly because she felt it needed a longer conversation, but also because she didn’t want to take the teasing she would get for going against all her dearly held principles to date a nervy, sweaty-palmed, underpaid first-year junior doctor. The junior doctors had been a standing joke between them for years. They arrived in two tranches, green as grass, in February and September, and ended up so grateful for Helena and her good advice, strong leadership and magnificent bosoms that at least one of them always trailed around after her for weeks with flowers and sorrowing looks. Helena never gave in. Ever.
‘When you’re back in the social world,’ said Helena, ‘then you can find out.’‘Oh, don’t blush!’ said Helena, genuinely surprised she’d upset her friend. ‘I didn’t mean it! In fact, I was thinking recently of how much tougher you’ve been getting.’