This the first of four short instalments. The next three will appear over the next three days.
I waved Charlotte and the kids off. I’d told them to go out and enjoy the day anyway despite me not feeling great. Emma had fixed me with a glare when I told them, the thought of being alone in the car and at the show with her mother and brother not a hit apparently. Josh gave a shrug and carried on massacring something or someone on his phone. As long as there was an internet connection via some platform, the rest of the world was irrelevant to him.
Charlotte was sympathetic ,although concerned no doubt that it may mark another turn in my recently fluctuating moods, tinged with exasperation at being left to deal alone with the two children on what was definitely a double team task. I was sorry but under the circumstances it had to be this way.
As the car turned the corner at the top of the drive I took a slow look round at the garden. The grass needed cutting. I stepped back indoors and put the chain up on the front door.
I had actually developed the weariness and headache I’d described when I’d dipped out of the trip to the outdoor performance of whatever it was we were supposed to be seeing. Too much method acting. I shook myself like a dog to break the mood and went to make a cup of tea. I put the kettle on and looked into the cupboard. What was it to be? Not an Earl Grey, too light and frivolous, not a China tea, those were Charlotte’s. I was a confirmed Indian tea drinker, glad of the Empire’s interference in the Chinese monopoly of production in the nineteenth century. I may not have approved of imperialism but in this case I preferred the flavour of the resultant brew no matter the means. Something robust and fortifying. I was tempted by the lure of bog standard builders’, but there are limits even in extremis, and robust needn’t mean brutal. I went for the Assam.
I warmed the pot, threw the water down the sink, spooned the tea in and then poured the boiling water on the leaves. Loose leaf was a tad twee perhaps but I could use the brewing time to prepare a few items.
At the end of the landing was a trapdoor in the ceiling. I took the stick from the back bedroom and used it to trigger the latch mechanism that held the trap in place. It swung down and I reversed the stick, using the hook on the other end to snag the ring on the bottom of the collapsed ladder and pulled it into place. I went into the attic and turned on the light. Boxes of packing from our move here ten years ago were in one corner, opened, assessed as not required immediately and in time consigned by indifference and a shrug to another lifetime. Around those boxes, were kids toys, put aside but definitely not abandoned, oh no, waiting the call to fight again in a battle with the forces of adulthood, but not now, not yet. I moved around a plastic bag from which a dozen reproving beady glass eyes stared at me. Why us? Why here? Were we too not loved once? I felt a tear pricking at my eye.
The tea was brewing and I really had to get what I came for. The time for reflecting on the lost past was gone. I’d done that. Now I needed to do something about it.