The chair lay in one corner of the room, slightly angled toward the window, the sun mottled on the cracked leather. Empty. The client sat in a chair opposite, and Jenine perched on the sofa. The clock ticked.
“How are you, Mrs Bateman?”
“I’m good thank you, dear. Tired, but almost bored. Empty nest syndrome no doubt. John’s away on business again. Celia Vrije keeps bringing me food, ‘checking to see if I’m OK’. You’d almost think there’d been a death in the family.”
Mrs Bateman patted the arm of the empty chair. Jenine nodded, smiled, took the nearest of the three cups of tea, put it to her lips, before holding it. You’re not supposed to consume things given to you by clients, but refusing hospitality usually doesn’t go well.
“How is John.”
“Oh you know, always out. Working, picking the kids up from school, at the allotment. He’s started getting up and out of the house before me. I swear I’ve hardly seen him all week.”
“How are the children.”
“They haven’t been in touch lately, not since they took the car to move Gin into halls. No doubt off having crazy adventures. I remember what it was like, exploring the world, exploring ourselves, without a care in sight. I’m sure you remember. You can’t be much older than my Eli.”
“Hah, yes, I do. Wild times.”
Build rapport with the client, ensure they’re comfortable, listened to. Connect, but not enough to risk getting involved or, worse, them becoming dependent.
“It has been months since they called, though.”
A moment of silence, a quick flash of something across her face, before it reset.
“Now, remind me again what it was you were here for?”
“I’m here to see how you are.”
“Oh god, like Celia from next door. I’m fine. Where has this idea that there’s something wrong with me come from? Just a little stressed and, I suppose, lonely. But I’ll find new hobbies now the kids have left, and I still have John. Thinking of, he should be home soon, you only just missed him popping out to the shops.”