April had woken early the next morning. A fitful night’s sleep now meant a plan was fully formulated in her head, although she would have to wait a few more hours for her mother to wake up. Her artificially smooth exterior might have convinced the world that she was defying her age, but Sandy’s insides were finding the effects of copious amounts of champagne and bullshit were getting harder to recover from. She hadn’t found an op for that, yet.
No one ate until Sandy ate, so it was one of those early afternoon breakfasts where the whole family had sat down together. The butler had served up some runny egg-like substance with toast that was somehow rubbery. Travis was pushing it around his plate as he pretended to reply to emails to avoid conversation. Sandy had taken two bites of her dish and was lavishing praise for the mediocre meal. April, as usual under the scrutiny of her mother, ate a tiny bit of her breakfast and then claimed she was full.
When her father’s phone rang, they all jumped. No-one ever called Travis, especially not on his work number. The only work he got these days was on behalf of the teen offspring of Sandy’s friends. Most of those cases never even made it to trial, which was just as well as when they did, Travis only won because his father pulled some strings.
Travis stood up from the table, chest puffed out as he proudly announced he was going to take the call in his office. Sandy watched him leave, muttered something under her breath and then turned to April who had tried to sneak a tiny bit more egg into her face while Sandy was distracted.
“No wonder you’re so fat.”
April dropped her fork and felt her face grow hot. She looked down at her thighs that didn’t even touch despite being squashed against the dining chair. She felt sick. Keeping her head down as her mother went on at her about her flabby arms, she tried to remember her plan and to turn the shame into some sort of anger. It was now or never.
“You’re looking old today, mother”
OK, perhaps not the most cutting insult she could’ve come up with, but it certainly did the trick. Sandy stopped mid-sentence and looked like she had been slapped. Her mouth hung open, eyes wide like a fish on a plate. Her daughter, who had never so much as breathed in response to her constructive criticism, had now spoken out of turn twice! When her words returned she seemed to have lost her ability to work a sentence.
“I. beg. your. pardon.”
April very much wanted to run away and hide, but she forced herself to look at her mother’s unmoving, unlined face. “Your latest face-lift. I… I think it’s failing.”
At this Sandy shot to her feet, hands pressed to her cheeks. She ran to the nearest mirror, which wasn’t far – heck, even the wallpaper in this house was almost reflective – and frantically scrutinised her flawless visage.
April was enjoying this immensely. “I didn’t want to tell you but I overheard some of your guests at the party.”
“People were talking about my face?!”
April nodded and tried to sound casual. “They said they could tell you’d gone with Dr. Caliente for your last lift. They said you looked like you had a ball sack for a chin.”
Sandy was screeching. Travis came running from his office and the butler rushed in from the kitchen to find her clawing at her face, breathless and beyond control.
“GET ME DIEGO LOBO ON THE PHONE. NOW!”
April had never felt like this, petrified and thrilled in equal measure. She sat in the music room, pretending to play piano, so she could listen in as her mother paced back and forth.
First on the phone to Mr. Lobo, practically begging him – although in a very controlled manner that contrasted her face – to give him the details of Penny’s new doctor. Then on the phone to poor Dr. Caliente who would probably now have to leave town. Then finally, to whom April hoped to be Dr. Vatore’s receptionist who informed her that yes, Dr. Vatore would be delighted to pay her a visit… two months from today.
Sandy turned towards the nearest mirror, eyebrows almost raised. “Two months?”
“Yes, Ms. Moss.”
“But this is an emergency. I need to see him today, the Starlight Accolades are only a month from now!”
“I understand, Ms. Moss,” came the cool, smooth reply of someone who was used to dealing with drama, “but Dr. Vatore is fully booked and could not possibly see you any sooner.”
Sandy, who was clearly getting more frantic suddenly switched. When April watched her mother do this she could easily see how she had become such an esteemed actress… but wow, it was terrifying. Her voice now was cool, almost eerie. “He will see me today,” she purred, “or I will ensure he does not see anyone in this town again. Am I making myself clear?”
The voice on the other line fell silent. April thought for one horrible moment that they had hung up and her plan had failed. Then, thankfully, came the response. “Is 8pm this evening satisfactory for you Ms. Moss?”
Sandy visibly relaxed. “It will suffice. I take it you don’t need my address. I’ll let the guardhouse know to expect him.”
She hung up and turned to April who swiftly put her fingers back to the keys, heart pounding. She couldn’t believe her plan had worked.
Sandy listened to her daughter play for a while, seemingly lost in thought before she muttered, “Thank goodness you have me to prop you up, April. It’s not like you can rely on those piano skills to get you anywhere.”