“I’m not sure about this.” Rensa looked at herself apprehensively in the mirror. “Do I look ordinary enough? Well as ordinary as I can with this hair and skin.”
“You look fine,” Mirren assured her, “and you’ll do fine. You’ll be drinking tea and eating healthy snacks while I’m waiting to see the obstetrician and you know how long that can take if someone’s baby decides to be born. I think the record so far has been four in one morning. And I get to do this every week from here on in.”
“Is everything okay?” Rensa looked at her friend with concern.
“Oh yes,” Mirren waved her hand dismissively. “At this stage the doctor always wants to see you every week. You’ll see, you’re almost at that stage yourself. Now, go and enjoy your coffee morning.”
Half an hour later Rensa cautiously opened the door of the coffee shop her therapist had directed her to. Once inside she looked around bewildered. She hadn’t been in such a place before without Mirren to guide her or an official to direct her to where she was supposed to go. There were several groups of women scattered around the shop and Rensa wasn’t sure which one she was supposed to be meeting.
“Excuse me, can I help you?” When Rensa turned to face the speaker, the girl added a hurried and startled, “Your Highness.”
“I hope so. I came for a pregnancy support group meeting that’s supposed to be happening here?”
“Oh yes,” the girl smiled, “they’re over in the back corner. The lady in the electric blue coat is with them.”
“Thank you.” Rensa smiled back at her and made her way between the tables to the group the waitress had indicated.
Coming up to them, Rensa had a sudden case of cold feet and froze. On the far side of the table a girl, she must have been at least five years younger than Rensa, looked up and did a double take. “What are you doing here?” The question was blunt with shock.
“Someone thought it would be good for me to get out and meet people I had something in common with who weren’t friends or colleagues of my husband.” Rensa thought there was no need to tell these women and girls that “someone” was her psychologist, not at this stage anyway.
“What do you have in common with us, Your Highness?” The brittle blonde on the right put sarcastic emphasis on the title.
“We’re all pregnant,” Rensa said quietly, “and, as I understand it, we lack personal support networks. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my entire birth family is dead and my mother-in-law, a lovely woman, lives towns away.”
“Sounds like you’re in the right place then,” it was a red-haired woman with a freshly scarred face who spoke. “Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable, Rensa. Falen, shuffle round to make room and stop being a bitch – this is a support group, not a secondary school queen bee shuffle.”