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A Little Less than Love?
“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story …”
“How was I to know you would come along and fu.k my life up?”
That box had not seemed so difficult when it was put into the loft: a stretch on the chair, a quick shove. Getting it down though was turning out to be a different experience. Just bringing in the step ladder and taking those up fourteen measly stairs had been hard going. By the fourth stair she had to drag, rather than carry it up and by the last she found herself sitting down for five minutes to catch her breath. How stealthily one gets old: and now there was the prospect of a shaky ascent and the even shakier reaching up to negotiate.
At last she was on the top step and determinedly willed her knees to remain steady.
The box was only a few inches from the edge but still, maybe a reach too far. Perhaps she should wait for Keith? His six-foot frame and long arms would have no trouble. For him it was just a puny cardboard box.
Although only a couple of feet long and maybe a foot high, the box was an awkward bulky shape without convenient cut out hand grips. Up close, she could see that little sharp mouse teeth had been feasting on it. Was that a distinct smell of rodent wafting from the open hatch? Maybe everything inside had been eaten, or could there be a snug nest full of baby mice she would disturb?
Was it worth it? Was it worth what suddenly seemed like a two-way risk to bring down that box? She paused and forced herself to consider the very serious question of whether she really wanted or needed to release a forgotten part of her life, conveniently shut away in the dark, for nearly two decades.
Her classical days and a grim tale of a box being opened sprang to mind. It was really a jar – but box or jar, the point was, that Pandora opened it and unwittingly released all the evils into the world.
She in a bright blue dress,
stood in the doorway.
A flash of white in dark hair,
pleasantly asking a question.
I cracked a casual joke but
must confess, as the door closed,
I was seriously smitten!
Eve looked up and said, with (well I think so) a bit of a smug smile,
“Do you know who that is?”
“No. Should I?” I said, pretending to be only mildly curious.
“That’s Dian Wilson, our new boss!”
Seriously! Oh crap!
A Little Less than Love?
As Grace left with the dog she studiously avoided the distinctive single envelope that lay on the mat. The red-blue of its stripe plainly stating it must be from America and the extreme sloping right hand also plainly stating it was from Dian.
Once upon a time she would have picked it up in pleased anticipation and called out its arrival to Lecce. Once upon a time they would have read it together at the breakfast table and discussed their mutual friend’s luck in having the freedom to enjoy yet another exciting holiday destination. The jokes and quips inside would have been meant for the both of them: once upon a time.
Grace hurried out and away from it, whistling for Ruby to follow, doggie bags in one hand and the lead in the other. Quickly she crossed the road and made for the park, hardly slowing to allow for Ruby’s quota of sniffs and stops.
For a while she distractedly threw the ball and paced the large grassy circle until she gave up and slumped down onto the bench and considered the envelope and its unwelcome arrival into their lives. Should she ignore it, leave it where it was until Lecce found it when she left for work. Should she put it next to her cereal bowl, propped up against the tea pot as if nothing was out of the ordinary?
It was late November, the day was bright but cold, Grace shivered as she stood, zipping up her jacket and calling to Ruby who was busy investigating the overgrown shrubby area with a small terrier and an ancient Labrador. This was their morning routine; throw the ball, walk the circle, let Ruby investigate the shrubs with her friends, wave to Howard from two doors down and hurry home to Lecce and breakfast. A sharp stab of loss pierced as she imagined how the world might look without the happy and contented certainty of their together-forever life.
Grace took her time walking home continuing to worry over the possible significance of the sudden silences that had grown between them recently. Was Lecce still as happy and contented as she, and if not, why hadn’t she said anything. Was Dian still only their much loved mutual friend? How could over a decade of easy-going communication have dissolved so imperceptibly into dangerous no-go areas she was unwilling to cross; afraid to bring out into the open?
Reaching their door she delayed a few moments longer, taking off her gloves, unclipping Ruby’s lead and fishing in her cluttered pocket for the key, suddenly reluctant to step through and see whether the letter had remained where she had left it, was open on the table for her to read, or spirited away without a word.
There was an airmail letter from Dian this morning. It was addressed to me. I was more than surprised. I was excited, overwhelmed and guilty. I stuffed it in my work bag and rushed off early. I must have read it a hundred thousand times but, as usual; I don’t know what she means. She’s on holiday with her husband but would rather sit next to me? I bet he wouldn’t be a bit impressed! What is she really thinking? What does she want?
Oh! I adore that woman (unfortunately!)
Excerpt from Letter
I thought of you all the way up the M4 – all the fields had blond crew cuts – but these had wood pigeons nitpicking! I also thought of you all the way to America. If we had been together, what laughs and jolly japes!
That thought was so strong I felt almost willing to perch on the boniest knee of the oldest pensioner if the airline would only put me on a return flight! Of course, preconditioning (common sense?) kicked in and I did no such thing. Would do no such thing!
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