Davide Castel Davide Castel
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I thought that Robert was dead?

Davide Castel Davide Castel
Recommendations: 39

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Nelly Harwood Nelly Harwood
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She had a friend.

I am writing a series of stories each linked to the last by a theme or a person. This is Lyn's story.


She’d only left the room for a moment but opening the door she knew the old woman was dead.

That’s what they came for these poor old girls. Someone to hold their hand at the end.

It’s not that Mary had struck her as the needy type. She’s held it together for her visitors on Sunday. Lynette had watched them. She’s seen Mary’s struggle to sit up, to smile, to look lively for that pretty young girl. She’d watched as Mary’s eyes flicked knowingly across to the boyfriend as well. She’d not been keen.

A canny one was Mary.

Lynette wondered if she’d be on her own. Maybe Robert would still be alive. He’d sit with her. Make sure she was comfortable. He’d do the right thing.

Mildred shuffled past her in the corridor clutching that same old photograph. Her granddaughter had laminated it to keep it from disintegrating. The original was nearly a hundred years old now. Mildred’s parents on their wedding day. Bright and hopeful. Smiling and certain.

“Happy,” she said holding the photograph up for Lynette to see. “So happy.”

What a day. Lynette was glad to close the car door and shut herself in for the drive home. She turned the ignition and as if in response her mobile rang.

“Auntie Lyn,” the voice said.

Lucy hadn’t called her that since she was ten.

“What’s the matter?” Lynette asked.

“Nothing.” A pause. “Just called…for a chat.” Lucy’s voice wavered at her own dishonesty.

Lynette waited.

Deep breath and then a rush of words.

“Auntie Lyn I’m in a mess. Dad’s still in the States... and I need to talk to someone.”

Before the girl spoke she knew. “A baby,” she said. It wasn’t a question.

Such a startling and everyday tale. Lucy stumbled through the story. Lynette felt connected to all of those invisible people having the same conversation going on in towns and villages all over the world. Hysterical girls summoning up the courage to share this secret. Those listening trying to tread the dangerous path between love and exasperation.  She leaned her head to the side against the cool of the window.

Lucy was gulping and gasping as she spoke. Funny how easy it was for both of them to slip into clichés. Lucy said that the lad concerned was still at College, he was young and too ‘laid back’ to be a father. Lynette bit her lip. It was probably best not to say what she thought about some feckless nineteen year-old without the sense to use a condom. She reassured. She tried to be positive. She promised help she wasn’t sure she could actually offer. Robert wouldn’t want to be tied to anything.

Lynette could hear Robert’s verdict. ‘Typically unsuitable’ had been his instant judgment of Lucy’s last boyfriend. The phrase was classic Robert in the way it laid the blame with Lucy herself.

He hadn’t wanted children. “We’re better as we are Lynette. Footloose and fancy-free.”

It seemed a strange term for a middle aged pair with a Marks and Spencer Savings Account and a greenhouse.

She said her goodbyes and arranged to meet the girl on her next day off.

Turning on the windscreen wipers gave her a better view of the road in front of her.

It was getting dark outside and the car had started to steam up a little

Robert was in the shed when she got home. Suddenly weary, she watched him as she washed the vegetables for their meal. His back was hunched in concentration. He was finishing a new platform for his model railway and he’d explained to her how difficult its creation had been. “Measure twice and cut once,” he would say. 1 comment

Later that evening he pushed the plate away from him.

“Very nice,” he said. “And your day?”

She busied herself with the table. “Nothing special,” she said. She didn’t want to speak about Mary dying, or the call from Lucy.

Robert wanted to tell her the details of his day. Their latest acquisition, a small flat in the town was taking up a lot of his time. It was the third of their property purchases. They had used money left by Lynette’s mother.  At first Lynette had been excited by the projects. She would imagine the families who would be so happy to live there. But Robert’s enthusiasm was different. He had been almost reluctant to let the flats. He loved the empty, perfect space. He was obsessed with the opportunity to find the correct fixtures and fittings. He would spend hours pouring over architectural magazines and his Saturdays were spent at scrapyards.

Tonight he was sectioning up an old brass doorbell. He had divided with cardboard sections and each tiny part of the bell was numbered and noted against a diagram. “For ease of assembly,” he explained to Lynette.

“I’m glad we’re nearly done with the flat,” Lynette said.

“Well, I wouldn’t say ‘nearly’“, Robert said.

She breathed in slowly, holding the breath in for a moment before exhaling slowly through pursed lips.

She wanted to shriek that his doorbell didn’t matter. People loved. And died. And were born.

There’d be no point in arguing though. He would listen, head tipped to one side. He’d wait patiently; sure she’d see sense eventually.

She caught sight of her hair in the window. The long, thick braid had a few streaks of grey. It was neat and tidy and Robert had always liked it. She’d worn it like this for years now. Catching the elastic on her forefinger she pulled at the blue hair bobble fastening the hair and freed it from the plait. 1 comment

“Robert,” she called. “I need to pop out,”

Outside in the car she dialled Lucy’s number. “It’s Auntie Lyn.”

“I’ve had an idea about where you could live… well actually where both of us could live.”

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