No one told me he was coming

by Claire

Uncle Toby couldn’t have been better named, he looked like a corpusculent, bearded and ruddy nosed jug. If he wasn’t pissed then it was a day without a “y” in it. Ruby hated him. As a little girl she had found his avuncular bonhomie faintly entertaining and he did always arrive with some kind of gift. Her favourite had been a small purse covered in various shades of small plastic bead, glued, not sewn. Inside had been a 5p piece, the first money she had ever spent of her own volition, on 4 fruit salads, 4 black jacks and a Bazooka Joe bubble gum.

Now as he stood by the buffet, dropping sausage roll crumbs down his front, holding forth about “immigrants” and “poofters” and “the disabled” like he was trying to win a game of twat bingo, she felt a desire to kill him with his own tie pin. To cap it all, it was his fault that she had to spent last night on an air bed in the box room at her parents, because of the ridiculous room swapping involved in Uncle Toby’s requirements for ease of access to the loo.

The wedding itself had been a standard wedding type arrangement, although Ruby’s sister did look beautiful. The little grey stone church was brightened by sprays of yellow and purple irises with an occasional burst of sun through the coloured glass of the alter window. Even Ruby's god forsaken soul was leavened. Standing now in the 1980s splendour of the chain hotel, having survived the toe curling embarrassment of her fathers speech, Ruby wasn't feeling that same spiritual glow, despite several glasses of warm Cava. Every gob of spit that launched itself from Uncle Toby's mouth, every particle of food that lodged itself in his beard was another nail in the coffin of contempt she held for him.

By way of distraction Ruby went to join the group of middle aged women on the dance floor, an act of desperation indeed. Her mother and friends were “Vogueing” to the Madonna tune currently playing and the spectacle was outstanding. Ruby was aware of becoming overwhelmed and the dance floor started to swim slightly, her head felt like it was floating several feet above her neck. She wobbled out to the hotel car park where the sudden blast of cold air knocked her for six and she crumpled like a discarded dressing gown across the bonnet of Uncle Toby’s Ford Kuga, and slowly slid down it, her buttons gouging paint and metal as she went.

After what could have been thirty seconds or five days, Ruby opened her eyes. Slowly she raised herself and in doing so saw the damage she had caused to Uncle Toby’s pride and joy. Many scenarios played out in her imagination, all of which ended badly for her. Except for the one where she crept away and told no one what had happened, just leaving the paint marks and minor denting as a mystery gift for Uncle Toby in special recognition of his services to world twattery. “It’s been a lovely day” she said a little later, as she kissed her sister farewell, and at least now she could mean it.