29 – ODD MOMENTS

29 – ODD MOMENTS

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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THE LIFE AND LOVES ANNIE GRABLE - 29

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It was getting too easy to drift off to sleep and blame the lock down for doing and thinking nothing. And it was getting to be confusing. One minute she was here and knew where here was and another she was there and knew where there was and a third she was anywhere but the present and didn’t really know where anywhere was. And the knowing and not knowing bled, somehow, into each other until if what she was experiencing was life, it was also total confusion.

The very worst day was when they told her Daniel had been buried, in the nurturing soils of mother Earth, joining the woman he’d married, the lovely Wendy after that debacle with Eva. It had hurt when Wendy died, of course it had, and Daniel had been overwrought even though by then he hardly know her, but now that he was gone too it was worse than hurt, it was numbness.

I wanted to say goodbye,” she wept to Letitia who was standing outside the window, on her bit of back garden where the Thrush usually went.

Don’t cry, Granny,” urged the younger woman.

They’d always been close, she and Letitia, ever since she’d been born. Annie, already an old lady, had taken great pride in caring for her on the odd occasion, and somehow Letitia had enjoyed being with her.

I don’t know what was so special about her being here, though,” grunted Annie to the thrush.

She didn’t know it, but it’s the sort of thing family love is made of, inexplicable, unplanned, just an immoveable part of life. The same kind of love that had been forged eighty years earlier between herself and Daniel, and she hadn’t been allowed to go to the funeral of her one and only son because of what they call social distancing.

Social distancing, she thought morosely, what’s social about barring a mother from the graveside of her son? I, who nurtured him, who saw him on his way to school, who … why did Klaus have to take him away from me?

Yes, Klaus had taken him to a house not much more than a mile away, on what at the time had been a shiny new executive estate and now was beginning to crumble, and he’d stayed in that house even after Klaus had passed away himself… so many people passing away, so many funerals… and had married Wendy and they had moved to a little house of their own where they had produced Mildred and Ian and Peter… then, after the growing up years, Letitia had come along to Mildred. And they had stayed there because for some reason the only person Mildred wanted to live with if she had to move home was another woman she met at the library where she spent a great deal of her life, but that other woman was married to … she didn’t know, couldn’t remember all the names, just that Daniel was dead and buried and she hadn’t been allowed to go.

When was that? In one of the huge sprawling moments of her long past or the here and now?

Yes, that other woman, nameless now because old ladies do forget names without intending to, she’d met her and liked her. That other woman was the sort of person everyone would like on meeting her, they couldn’t help it, open and honest and strangely beautiful despite the remnants of a cleft palate.

If I’d been Mildred I’ve have wanted… she whispered, not daring to give words to what she’d have wanted, but Mildred was a good mother, a caring mother, and she brought Letitia to see me ever so often until sometimes I reckon Letitia thought she actually lived here! And that’s why she’s here now, telling me they buried my only son and wouldn’t let me say goodbye…

She shook her head, and smiled as another fragment of her long past came out of the gloom of the present to remind her that life can be more than funerals.

Letitia was going. She waved godbye, but the memory took over and the present day dissolved away until all there was of it was the custodian of her times, Mr Thrush.

Oh, David,” she whispered, and she looked towards Mr Thrush. “I didn’t tell you about David, did I?” she asked, smiling.

Mr Thrush shook his head. No, she hadn’t and he was hurt that she hadn’t, wasn’t it he who was to hold the repository of her memories for posterity after she died?

David came to me out of the blue,” she said, “when I opted to buy this house off the council. I’d lived in it for so long I didn’t have to pay a great fortune to own it outright, and the council sent David round to check that everything was alright before they let me have it. They didn’t want me to be paying good money for a ramshackle old shack, that’s how he put it, and I know from the moment I poured him his first cup of tea that he was likely to end up in bed with me.

Now I wasn’t any kind of nymphomaniac … that’s what they call women who are obsessed with lying in bed with men, isn’t it? But quite a lot of my life had been lived without a man in it and sometimes over the empty years I have felt the absence of love and affection and the sheer magical physical wonders of a relationship more than others. And this must have been one of them.

It happened like this. After his cup of tea and a few minutes of idle chatter he asked that he be showed round the house so he could tick some boxes on his form. That. He said, was all he had to do. Tick that the central heating worked, tick that the electricity was all right, tick that the roof didn’t leak, tick, tick, tick and all’s done. So I took him round the house.

You must see from your perch out there that it’s quite a small house and wouldn’t take much examining, and it didn’t, until we got to my bedroom.”

Memory made her sigh. Who had started it? She thought, maybe, it was him but the truth might suggest something else, that it was her.

She’d always liked a nice clean bed with a comfortable mattress and so that’s what it was like when she showed David into her bedroom.

You can tell this is my bedroom,” she said to him, “quite cosy enough for a woman of a certain age to enjoy...”

Enjoy? Why had she said enjoy? It was a word that had sneaked out completely unbidden, and then she had done something that compounded the wretchedness of it all. She had actually sat on the edge of the bed and bounced her bottom a very small amount as if to emphasise the enjoy word.

I can see,” he smiled at her, “I like a nice comfortable bed myself, and the smell of fresh linen is quite hypnotic...”

Why had he said that? Had he said hypnotic as a means of separating himself from what he had in his mind? Or had it been in her mind all along and nothing really to do with any intention of his?

I rather think you’re too young to hear this,” she said to Mr Thrush, “and I don’t want you to think any the less of me, and I don’t know which garment came off first, my undies or his boxer shorts, but before your could say Jack Robinson or any other random name both garments lay on the floor and we were like two rabbits on holiday.

Believe it or not, that’s the only suggestion that led up to our almost unbelievably joyous hour ot two of passion. It wasn’t as if there’d been a long prelude, two people playing a slow game leading up to them scoring a goal. But rather two people who quite simply undressed each other and did what people have done from the beginning of time, and did it thoroughly and well.

And when it was over and done with and we were dragging our clothes back on he apologised to me. He who had dragged me for an hour or so out of the monotony of normal life and showed me that, somewhere, there’s a Heaven and sitting in its centre like the cat who got all the cream there’s a magician in his splendour...

And you know what I said to him? Instead of meaninglessly saying something like I’m not normally that kind of girl, I said, Any time, just call…

And he said, I just might do that...

And they buried Daniel today. The poor boy.

© Peter Rogerson 28.05.20





© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on May 28, 2020
Last Updated on May 28, 2020
Tags: memories, funeral, lock down, passion


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing