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Candid Photographs

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Serena opens her eyes, the rays of sunlight seeping through the window shades next to the bed. She’s usually the first one up in the house. Usually the one holding onto a cup of coffee as she lovingly peers down to her wife’s beautiful outline through the bed quilt. However, today is different. Serena smooths her hand over the space next to her in the bed, knowing she isn’t going to find her wife, but still hoping her eyes are playing tricks on her.


“Gran’s made impressive bacon buttys.” Cole waves his eyebrows, “without the help of Mum or Laney.” He smiles a little, “Gwennie’s already had two.”


“Two?” Serena starts to stretch, not realizing just how tired she actually was. Though, she knows she’s been pushing herself a bit. Pushing herself through tidying the house, through thinking over the dinner menu for Easter, as well as possibly redoing the lounge since it hasn’t been changed in...decades. Her mind was plagued with various events throughout her life that were spent on them, making the whole ordeal exhausting. Serena clears her throat as she slowly pushes herself to sit up, “what’s so impressive about a bacon butty?”


“Gran’s added fresh spinach and roasted tomato, bacon, and an egg with the yolk all...” Cole tries to explain the texture of the egg, wiggling his hands to symbolize the egg was cooked to an over-medium consistency. “Quite good, actually. Want me to bring you breakfast up here? Let you relax for the day with a cup of coffee?”


Serena rubs a hand over her eyes, exhaling slowly, “I should...I need to get up.”


“You look tired.” Cole tells her honestly, “and you’ve been a”


“I look tired? Cole, you really need to work on how you communicate with women.” Serena smiles to herself, groggily glancing over to him. “Thanks a lot.”


“They don’t call me Cassanova Wolfe for nothing.” Cole shrugs, taking a few more steps into the room before taking a seat on the side of the bed. He smiles as his grandmother gives a soft chuckle, “but like...I’m worried about you...and Gran is...abnormally cheery this morning. Not that she’s normally miserable or anything like that, but...and I don’t mean to offend. I just-”


“I know.” Serena nods, reaching a hand out to touch the side of his face,“I’ve um...just a bit run down lately. Age is a monster we can never outrun. Remember that.” Her hand lingers a bit longer, thumb stroking along his cheekbone before she lowers it, “the taller you grow, the deeper that voice becomes, the closer to old crone status I become ...and feel that way.”


“I’ve been trying my very best to get younger.” Cole nods, joking with his grandmother to brighten her spirits, “steady diet of coffee and fags since the age of two, but-” He shakes his head slowly, causing her to smile again, “Age is a monster we can never outrun, Nan...I heard that from a great woman once.”


“When did you get so funny?” Serena is laughing a bit harder now, before allowing the chuckle to slowly taper off. “Don’t answer that. I know exactly where you inherited that sense of humor from.”


Cole turns his head when he hears his grandmother shout from the floor below, “we’d better head down there before the Major sends reinforcements.”


“Too late.” Guinevere smirks, her arms folded as she stands in the doorway, “you alright? Gran seems-”


“Abnormally cheery?” Serena asks with a raise of her eyebrow, remembering her grandson’s prior confusion.


“Yes, exactly!” Guinevere continues, as if it was a secret or an aspect she was attempting to decipher herself. “I mean...if the two of you had it off last night, good for you. I’m happy that-” Noticing her cousin’s sudden cringed facial expression, “Cole, old people have sex all the time. It’s a way of life. Honestly, when I get to be as old as they are, I hope I love someone so much that their wrinkles seem well fit.”


Cole lifts his hands in innocence, quickly rising off the bed and making a break for the door, “don’t want to hear this.” He calls out, walking past Guinevere in a retreat back to his Gran.


“He’s such a prude sometimes.” Gwen sighs, laughing a little to herself. “He is right though, you kinda look...not great.”


“Could all of you stop with that already? Never a good start to the day when someone tells you how awful one looks, first thing.” Serena sighs, slowly pushing herself up off the bed, “I’m allowed to be tired once in a while. I don’t need permission from anyone. You lot usually lie in until well after noon when you haven’t any school.” She pauses, “of course you’re awake all hours of the night, but my point still stands.”


Guinevere casually loops her arm in her grandmother’s as they make their way to the hall, “not anymore. Not like I used to, at least.” Her voice is quiet, but she isn’t hurt by the thought. “Only if I’m reading a good book or...watching something on telly.”


“And I’m proud of you for it, darling.”


“Thank you.” Gwen smiles sheepishly to herself, “I just have to keep reminding myself this isn’t an attempt of control. That’s...that’s what always happens in the back of my head.” She shrugs, “doesn’t matter. Gran made a proper breaky and it’s quite good-”


Serena raises an eyebrow, “Cole did say you had two sandwiches already.”


“I did. You might too. You’ll see.” Gwen waves her eyebrows, arm going slack to walk ahead of her grandmother down the stairs.


Bernie lifts her head once Serena enters the kitchen area, smiling weakly toward her, “Good morning.” She shoots a glance at Guinevere and Cole, “good work, troops.”


“Have we graduated from cubs ?” Cole teases, taking a sip of coffee from his violet mug.


“I rather miss the term.” Gwen pouts playfully before smirking after a moment, “come along, Wolfeboy. You promised me that you’d show me a thing or two with this new laptop.”


Cole sighs a little, starting to smirk as he sets his empty mug in the sink, “I still can’t believe Mum just up and gave you that laptop.”


“Look, I can’t help that she loves me more than she does you-” Gwen teases, getting the feeling that her Gran needed to speak to her Nan about something. It’s the way she’s been acting all morning. As if Bernie Wolfe is merely holding herself together by strings and a prayer. 


Waiting for the grandchildren to leave, Serena offers her wife a smile, “the grandchildren said you were abnormally cheery this morning.” She looks down as Bernie sets a plate with the expertly crafted bacon butty in front of her, “and the Berenice Wolfe I know only acts that way when one of two things are in effect. One, it’s a part of your post coitus glow...and that’s often you just blushing all the time-”


Bernie’s eyes widen, doing her best not to blush at that exact moment, “I don’t!”


“-and the other is when you have bad news.” This comment instantly makes her wife turn quiet, causing Serena to give a knowing smile. “So, Berenice, what’s the damage?”


Looking at the counter-top, it’s as if this is one of the hardest things Bernie can force herself to say. Not actually wanting to say a single thing in this instance. Who would? “While we...” She pauses, taking a deep breath as she forces herself to continue, “while we were in the midst of heavy petting-”


“So prude.” Serena mutters amusingly.


“I...I’m almost certain I found a lump in your breast.” Bernie swallows, only then looking up to meet her eye, “and with the way you’ve been behaving lately and...the symptoms you’ve been displaying...” She shakes her head a little, her own eyes glassy as Serena just seems to stare at her, “when was your last mammogram?”


Serena shakes her head, not quite knowing the answer to the question, “few years ago. Um...before Marcus’ wedding.”


Bernie nods a little, afraid she was going to say that. She sighs softly, a rueful smile filling her face, “how about I get us both appointments? It will all go toward our...healthier outlook.” Bernie does her best to reassure her wife, “and it’s probably a simple...lipoma or something along the lines. Nothing to worry about, but...I’d rather just be safe.”


“Of course.” Serena nods, swallowing as her wife reaches a hand to hold hers. “I...I don’t want you saying anything to the children about this. Especially during Easter.”


“I wouldn’t, Campbell. You know that.” Bernie’s thumb gently strokes Serena’s hand, “we’ve both been lax regarding all of this anyhow. Can’t tell you when I last had my routine physical or gynecological exam. Maybe it might be best to get everything accomplished on the same day...and then we’ll head from there.”


Serena exhales, “make the appointments for us both. Maybe you were right all along about this health kick of yours.”


“We are doctors, darling. We have the years and scars to prove it.” Bernie offers a wider smirk, moving around the kitchen island to steal a quick kiss from her wife. “Let’s practice what we preach for a change.”