‘Faith, Hope and Love’ Part 3

While we stood in the kitchen chatting, I was splashing water on my face and wiping away smears with the kitchen towel.

“Who on earth would fancy me?” I muttered, rubbing too hard at dark smears under my eyes. “Oh! That reminds me,” I said, “I’m going over to see him for a drink.”

“See? You had a whole conversation with him. He invited you for tea, even though your face was a mess. See?”

Elaine lifted her shoulders and turned her back so that I could not argue with her: to my daughter, everything is straightforward. Engrossed with her homework which was layered out over the kitchen table, I knew not to interrupt her again until she had finished. She would work steadily until I came back to start making the supper.

“I’ll just pop over then, I won’t be long. If you want to, you could set the table. If I’m not back in an hour or so, just come over. It’s number five.”

“It’s okay, Mum. I’ll be fine. Have fun.”

On the way, I was thinking, I must be too old. And yet, a spark of hope lit up, which just might flame. It was a childish hope, but I held it tenderly, gently. I am just like all forty-something widows.

If I didn’t have Elaine to keep me on the straight and narrow I would go crazy. That is my main worry, actually, having enough to do. I must be just about the only mum in our circle of friends who doesn’t have a paying job. I gave up “work” years ago; and these days I just slog with domestic stuff. After Karl died, I had to use some of the money to buy a car and force myself to drive again. I had run out of excuses. I am a timid driver, but there are some things I have no choice about. The fact that Karl died when a hit-and-run driver ploughed into his bike, is just one of the things I try not to think about when Elaine wants a lift to an out-of-town leisure centre to meet her friends.

Elaine and I also care for Sylvester, a thin, amorous tomcat, and a goldfish. I make sure that the fish tank is somewhere the cat can’t get, which isn’t easy, as Sylvester seems to be made of elastic. There is no-where he cannot go, and nothing he will leave untried. The kitchen is also Marian proof – no glass, please; fish proof – out of the way of the dishwasher, the ledges where stuff falls and breaks; and Elaine proof. I hide some of my favourite foodie things, or she would just scoff them. Not to mention my favourite pair of scissors, the pen I use to mark her school stuff and a stash of rubber bands. We have most eventualities covered, I hope.

Appointments are made on the calendar which hangs in the living-room next to my computer. That is the one I use, that and my mostly empty diary where I keep a note of routine appointments up to a year ahead: the dentist, hair dressers, parents evenings. That’s it, mostly. Since Karl died, there’s been a big hole in my life.

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