Today. A rainbow of roses from my son’s beautiful girlfriend, a much anticipated email that has gone unanswered and a love letter that stabs needles in and out of my heart. Each line another jab at dreams I have nurtured and cherished for so long now.
But enough already. There is much to do! I am hardly bearing up without a car, but one must not grumble, so another walk along the lane per chance? Why don’t we? There is so much countryside here and though I have never been a big walker, the need to escape my own head keeps pushing me out of the door until I am at the canal again. Navigating the lock, wandering past the pub locally known as the “Blood Tub”, and bashing midgies out of my face as I pass the backs of teeny little cottages resplendent with domesticity. One with a line dripping with so many vintage linens I want to nip over the rickety fence and pinch them, but of course I don’t because this village is rather fierce, in the way that only tight-knit little places can be and I don’t want to incur the wrath of a particularly outraged lady on the local community forum.
One does not want to be known as she who can not be trusted around the embroidered tray cloths now does she?
Not at all. So onwards we shall go. I grudgingly say hello to the man with the very shiny head, for I am not sure he is a good man, though let’s face it it is quite possible that my judgement of what constitutes a good man may not be quite au fait. But anyways, onwards we go. Huffing and puffing a little bit because I am rather out of shape, but with a new determination to live that has me taking that very life in my hands to cross the scary bridge, so I can wander past the ramshackle bed and breakfast with quite the oddest collection of wot-nots in it’s garden. With everything from teapots and wishing wells to drowned and oh so shabby stuffed bears this is eccentricity at its finest and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to arrive here planning to stay for the evening.
Now through the back of the village, past those stood patiently inline for their Covid jab at the old people’s club and round across the Wharf where half the village seems to be taking tea or sipping gin in the sunny, cobbled courtyard. Over the big bridge and then a long walk home, past friends soon to move, so our Summers of parties in their garden and stumbling home a little tipsy, would have been over regardless. Another era gone.
And finally, a hop over the little wall to open my front door. Quite faint with heat and ready to sip my “concoction” as Finn has been calling it. A tall cup of hibiscus tea dressed with lemon and stirred with a cinnamon stick. Sometimes sipped piping hot and sometimes, as now, topped with ice in a long glass. Good for both blood pressure and blood sugar apparently for I am a woman in want of good health, don’t you know?
If I’m honest, and heaven knows I do not know how to be anything else, I do not know what to do with myself. I’m too antsy to do the fiddly, detailed work I need to do and I’m struggling to eat so the kitchen doesn’t call my name. I suspect my loneliness might be palpable, a visible throb of veins under milky skin, and so to calm myself I brush my hair and rub body lotion into my arms as I sit looking over the garden, and then put music on so loud I wonder if the neighbour’s will complain. An earworm I cannot shift.
Get up Johnny boy, get up Johnny boy
Get up ’cause the world has left you lying on the ground
You’re my pride and joy, you’re my pride and joy
Get up Johnny boy ’cause we all need you, now
We all need you, now
I dance about the garden with the sweep. Shouting at Johnny Boy in my head (We all need you NOW!) and saying hello to honeybees because only the most bitter and twisted of old crones could not admire their work ethic. I worry about how to use the lawnmower I have never touched, (when I am only just getting to grips with our utterly useless tumble dryer) and wonder if I will have to get a man in to deal with the ivy because using a chainsaw could, in my hands, end up in a Burscough massacre.
Then a shower. Because there is no-one here and the water is soothing. I drown myself in the organic ginger body-wash I bought Ste only last week, and feel a little giddy with the most ludicrous of spite. Get me, using his body-wash! And then I cry, of course I do, because the shower is for crying even when there is nobody watching and I could frankly cry anywhere from the kitchen sink to the garden shed if I felt so inclined but the shower is my place of choice. Hot water to wash away the shame. I cry for me because this hurts and I cry for Ste because I have used his body-wash, though I know enshrining ginger on the bathroom shelf will not bring this broken man home.
Oh how I hate this. How raw it all is. Perhaps another cup of concoction will do the trick? Another song to sing to? A nibble on some feta and seeds to sustain me? An attempt to fix the leaking sink or the dripping tap? A swoosh around with the Hetty Hoover?
Perhaps Johnny boy will get up. God knows I need him now.