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The Silent Wife

By:Kerry Fisher

one, Sam piped up, ‘You can be my brother too if you like. And Francesca’s.’

At a later date, I’d have to help Sam grasp the fact that you couldn’t just go around muscling in on other people’s siblings and claiming them as your own.

I wanted to capture this moment in time and take a photo of this funny old family but didn’t want to intrude on the emotions of the moment – the apologies, the explanations, the reminiscing, the hope for the future. Who would have predicted that Anna, who’d so often sneered at the very mention of Dawn’s name, would now be tugging at her sleeve and begging her to keep in touch? That Mum would be belting out ‘My Way’ giving a demonstration of the sing-song she’d had with Robert last time she visited him? That the intimidating Farinellis would turn out to be just like any other family with their secrets but also their strengths – a right hotchpotch of half-brothers, ex-wives, new wives, unlikely friends and even more unlikely allies. It was the human equivalent of Nico’s potting shed where bits were grafted on, cuttings taken and planted elsewhere, half-dead twigs watered, fed and given a new lease of life.

Francesca tapped me on the arm. ‘I forgot to give you your birthday card.’

‘Thank you.’ There was something in her face that made me not want to open it. I hoped it wasn’t a jokey evil stepmother card I’d have to laugh off but secretly be cut to the quick. She stood there all expectantly. I prepared my face.

I pulled out a picture of a Great Dane. My voice came out all false. ‘Oh, isn’t he cute? That’s lovely.’

I dreaded opening it up in case it just said a bald ‘From Francesca’ like the year before.

I steeled myself and tried not to make it obvious I was reading through the tiniest corner of one eye.

‘To my second mum, have a lovely birthday, I’m so glad Dad married you.’