We took turns pushing Claudia, she's not strong enough to do it herself which clearly frustrates her.
"Let's look in here." Anna suggested, here being a shop selling all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff - well weird anyhow!
Whilst it was a reasonable sized shop, seven teens and a wheelchair soon gummed it up.
"Maybe we should split up for a bit." Steff suggested.
"We can meet up in the square for lunch." Brid offered.
"Works for me." Claud agreed.
So that was decided.
"Who's staying with me an' Claud?" Anna asked.
"Gaby?" Claud prompted.
"That's settled then." Nena stated,
"You not staying?"
"Nah, you three'll be fine, see you in like two hours?"
"Sounds good." her sister allowed.
Cheung! The rest of them disappeared in the blink of an eye.
"Come on Gabs, let's look over there, I can see a nice frock." Claudia started to move her chair.
"Ooh, pretties." Anna crowed.
"You're mad you." I noted.
"And you're not?"
"Not like you."
"Come on you two, time's a wasting!"
Well I managed to avoid any kind of repeat of Mayen last year, well okay I did try on a dress at Anna's prompting - luckily it wasn't a particularly good fit, it was far too fussy for my taste. We moved on from that first shop, drifting in and out of everywhere from Jaeger (how do people afford to shop in there?) to Tchibo that I think Gran would like.
"I still think you should have got those earrings Gab." Anna opined.
The ohrring in question were in my opinion awful! Big, gaudy, heavy and expensive, they might suit some sort of chavette, me, I'm more a none or plain kind of guy.
When I didn't reply she pulled in the cavalry, "what do you reckon Claud?"
"I think I'm with Gaby on this one."
Thank you Claud.
We were a bit early for meeting the others but we were done, or rather Claudia was so we parked ourselves by the fountain to wait.
"You should see this place at Weihnachts, they had a big slide thing over there," I pointed across the square, "all the lights and stuff."
"All the streets are decorated." Anna added.
"We went to a market in Freiburg, wasn't that exciting." Claud noted.
"There was this stall selling half metre wurst, Pia couldn't eat it all."
"Yeah and Brid dripped ketchup down her cleavage."
Remembering the episode had Anna and me in stitches. The more Brid tried to clean herself up the more the stuff spread - we ended up getting her a new bra and blouse from Coats an' 'ats.
"Sounds like fun." Claudia grinned.
"You should come this year, we could all hit a couple of different ones, there are loads round here." I suggested.
"Have to see." Claudia replied, maybe I missed something but the twinkle seemed to have left her eyes.
"There they are." Steff called out.
"Lightweights!" Brid added.
The others soon joined us.
"What are you guys grinning at?" Pia enquired.
Anna filled them in, “we were just telling Claud about last year's Weihnachtsmarkt."
"Don't remind me." Brid grimaced.
"I was just saying that Claud should come up this year and do a couple of markets with us."
"Great idea." Con agreed with a nod.
"Might not be so easy with the chair." Nena noted flatly.
"Nah, there were loads of wheelchairs about, it wouldn't be a problem." I blithely went on.
"Where are we eating?" Steff asked.
"Your call Claud."
"I'm not that hungry."
"Come on sis, you gotta eat." Nena stipulated.
"Maccy D's?*" Brid offered.
"Pizza Hut." was Pia's suggestion.
"How about Dinea, we can get what we want then." I put my two cents worth forward.
"It's a bit of a walk." Anna moaned.
"We've got to go that way anyhow." I pointed out.
"Claud?" Nena prompted.
"Sounds good to me."
"We can look in the shops on the way." Connie mentioned
"There's a dress I want to try in Pimkie Ò ." Brid added.
We collected ourselves and started heading down the main shopping street, we hadn't gone far when Pia pulled me into ' Love Secrets ' - a lingerie store whose window displays tended towards the erm, erotic.
"What we doing here?"
"There's something I need to tell you."
"And you have to do it in here?"
"It was handy."
"You mustn't say anything right?"
"If you say so."
"Cross my heart and wear a bra, okay?"
"It's about Claudia."
"What about her?"
"She's not very well."
"I know that."
"No I mean really not very well, the doctors don't think she'll see Christmas."
"Shit! How do you know?"
"Nena told me last night, Claud doesn't want everyone to know."
Talk about feel like a heel, there I was going on about the Weihnachtsmarkt and how she should come up and do the markets with us and she's, she's probably not gonna be here. And what about Nena, god this is shitty.
"But there's drugs and stuff isn't there?"
"Not anymore Gab, it could be a cold or anything, her immune system is like kaput."
Next thing I know we're hugging and my eyes are leaking. I'm sure we were getting some strange looks, stood there between rows of PVC underwear and fancy dress.
“Just me and now you.”
“So why tell me, now and not the others?”
“I didn't want to see you dig yourself a hole you couldn't climb from, Steff and I'm sure Anna have a good idea, they have known her longest.”
I thought I'd got some problems but some faulty plumbing whilst life altering in no way compares to this. I mean, when I heard about Helen I was devastated, it was so unexpected but to have something like this hanging over your head, for like months maybe. I know we all die sooner or later but Claudia is only like eighteen and she's spent pretty much all that time ill, life's so unfair.
My handy trilled at me and I fished it out of my bag.
'Wre r u is P with u?'
"It's from Steff, they missed us."
"I guess we'd best catch up, you okay Gab?"
I just stopped myself from using my usual 'I'll live' reply, I might but Claud won't. "Yeah, we'd best get cleaned up a bit, your mascara has run."
I tapped out a reply to Steff, ' With P, catch u in Pim, G.'
We quickly repaired makeup, so okay I do wear a bit, then headed into the stream of Saturday shoppers.
"Where did you pair get to?" Anna demanded when we finally caught up with them outside of the Karstadt.
"I spotted some hose for the Con." Pia offered.
"You look like you've been crying Gab." Con noted.
"I got some grit in my eye."
I doubt that she, or the others bought the explanation but they let it go.
Of course now it was difficult to look either of the Fischer girls in the eye, the problem is mine but I guess all too common in this kind of situation.
“Come on, I'm hungry.” Brid grumbled.
We managed to avoid any side excursions on our way to the restaurant, the lift pretty much saw to that, we ploughed into the self-service eatery and descended on the food like locusts! Despite the news about Claud suppressing my appetite some I still ended up with a plate bearing a goodly and varied selection of meat and veg and a um piece of strawberry torte. I'm a growing bo-irl!
The others, despite some earlier moaning over the venue, joined me at a super large table bearing pizza, frikadel, schnitzel, battered fish – well a wide variety of nosh.
“You sure you've got enough there Gab?” Claudia enquired eyeing up my plate.
“I think she's off her food Claud, it's usually twice that.” Nena giggled.
“I need the carbs and calories.” I riposted.
Claud shook her head, “I don't know where you put it.”
The conversation bounced about for the duration of the meal, my mood lightening as the minutes passed and I realised that Claudia and her sister were making the most of things, there wouldn't be many more days like this for them, together with friends. No, they were, whilst not ignoring the situation, trying to make today a good memory.
“Hey, we should go to the cinema.” Con suggested as we began clearing up.
“I bet there's nothing worth seeing on.” Pia opined.
“I can't remember the last time I went to the pictures.” Claudia noted.
“But you see films?” Nena asked her sibling.
“Of course, the San has a theatre but it's hardly like going to a real cinema, no popcorn or cheesy adverts.”
“That settles it then,” I stated, “next stop, the cinema!”
* As the girls generally eat proper meals at home the chance to slum it whilst out is the main attraction of this type of emporium. Generally seen as a snack destination rather than main meal.
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 04.11.2011