Last night, Solveig, Cara and I snuck in a cheeky wee Monday night drink at Cara’s restaurant. The three of us haven’t managed a proper catch up in ages, what with Liv being born, Cara also being a single mum to three lanky boys (her waste-of-space husband walked out on her a couple of years ago) and me with the whole immortal time traveller thing going on. So a bottle of rosé and a good old blether was in order.

I was hoping to get a chance to grab Solveig on her own on the way home, but Liv puked all over her last change of clothes then started howling loud enough to wake the dead so Solveig scarpered into a taxi leaving me to walk home on my own. I’m a bit worried about Cara. There’s something not right about her.

I’ve known Cara longer than I’ve known anyone except for Granny. On our first day of school we were assigned to sit next to each other (Ross and Rosetti – her Granda was an Italian POW in the war and never left after he met her Gran), and that was that even though we’re like chalk and cheese. She’s always been made of sterner stuff than me. I’d been terrified to hand in homework a minute late while she blithely read a book under her desk during double maths. When Mrs Spencer shouted at her, I quaked on her behalf but Cara cheerfully agreed that she would go to detention, but could she just finish her chapter first?

She’s always had a mouth on her, but she’s the most loyal friend you could ask for, given to bursting into tears on your behalf if you tell her a tale of woe (I think that’s the Italian in her?!) Last night though, I don’t know, she seemed a bit out of it. I told her about Rab because you don’t keep secrets from Cara (and I can’t keep secrets full stop) and she just kind of nodded. As I’ve said I don’t think many people will exactly go into deep mourning for him, but I get a funny heavy feeling in the pit of my tummy when I think about his death, I would have expected Cara to well up for the wee boy he once was, if nothing else. But nada.

Maybe there’s a man on the scene? I remember she went a bit funny when she first met her husband Alessandro. He was a friend of some distant cousin’s who came over for the summer when we were teenagers. We’d had all sorts of plans that summer to bag Munros and kayak the islands and she just sort of checked out without really telling me. Then it was autumn and time to go back to school for our highers, but Cara was pregnant. She started working at her family’s restaurant in the West End when Alessandro jr was a couple of months old, and she took over when her parents retired a few years ago.

I call Alessandro (Snr) a waste of space out of loyalty, but he’s not a terrible person. He’s just a bit of a drip. He could never keep up with Cara’s fiery energy, and I think he had just enough of that machismo to resent being in his wife’s shadow all the time. So when their youngest Marco was four, he just sort of slunk off and I think it took Cara several weeks to so much as notice he was gone.

That was nearly three years ago now thinking about it, so I wouldn’t be shocked if she’s met someone new. I just wish she’d talk about it. I don’t like secrets.

I get that other people have the right to their secrets, but just sensing one in the air makes me uncomfortable. Craig (my ex) threw me a surprise party for my 30th, and by the time it rolled around I was about ready to melt into a puddle of misery because I’d sensed for weeks that my pals were keeping something from me.

So while I know that if Cara wants to keep whatever’s going on with her to herself that’s up to her, I just can’t help but feel a bit hurt.

Urgh, this is turning into a bit of a mopey post of woe. Apologies. I might be a bit hungover, though I feel fine. I’ve just got those random blues where you have a vague sense of ‘wrongness’ but don’t know why. I’ll go for a run when I’ve finished this post, that should sort me out.

Actually, I do know one thing that’s wrong (well other than all the obvious… obviously), and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Nate worked at Cara’s restaurant for a bit when he first showed up, as a kitchen porter. She’s a bit of a one for taking in waifs and strays and she helped him out. She got him to fill in paperwork before she discovered he didn’t have a passport (it didn’t occur to him that might be a problem – I suppose visas weren’t such a big thing thing in his day?).

So last night as we were chatting, Cara remembered that Nate asked her for a reference for his apprenticeship at the garage, and she brought out his paperwork so she could remind herself of the dates he worked for her while it was on her mind. I couldn’t help taking a peek at the form he filled out, and I noticed that he had written under age 25 years old.

Now, I’ve always thought that he looked at least mid-twenties. When he told me the other night that he turned eighteen the year that he disappeared, I was taken aback but then figured that people aged earlier in those days or something. I mentioned it to Cara and she guessed that he wanted to make himself seem more mature to get a job. Which could be it.

But I’m not so sure.


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