good morning darlings – 07:49AM on a beautiful
tuesday gosh Wednesday! in sunny southern california.
we’re already writing – a large mug of finest french beans ground into a sumptuous dark roast with 1 per-cent milk from trader joes – and thought we’d open the door to Annabelle and Simon’s house on Church Row (metaphorically, of course) and peek inside……we’ve jumped ahead several thousand words so just a snapshot to keep up our momentum While We Continue On.
firstly a picture – now several of you will know that this is Not London (in fact, it’s Norwich) – but we always need to set the scene, visually, for ourselves before we write and we thought our American friends might appreciate a contextual image (and those, increasingly it seems from the “stats” from the middle east – good morning, chaps).
Simon felt cornered by his teenage mutant daughter. He had come home to catch up on some work and maybe read the paper from cover to cover in the kitchen. But Libby was sprawled out on the sofa, still in her sports kit, watching endless mindless television on a loop. He stood in the doorway and coughed, politely. Her head swung round like an alien in a horror movie. She stared him down. He moved back slightly into the hallway.
“Why aren’t you at work?” she said, exasperated.
He wished he had spoken first. “Why aren’t you at school?”
“I’m on home study.”
He had no idea what that meant so tried another tack. “Where’s Mum?”
“How should I know?” Libby looked sideways at the television, silently begging her father to leave.
“Did she say she was busy today?”
Libby looks at him astonished. “Busy doing what?”
Simon decided to leave it and avoid all confrontation until she left for university. When was that? He mentally calculated. It felt like years, because it was.
He walked into the kitchen and looked around for something to eat. He fancied cake. Did they have cake anywhere? It seemed not. He wanted to ask Libby if she knew where Annabelle kept the cake but he was too scared. His son would know. His son was still young, still liked cake, wasn’t on a diet or hated him. That time would come he was sure. Perhaps not the dieting bit. But maybe – young men appeared to be trying hard to impress these days.
Sighing, he sat down at the kitchen table and opened up his laptop and started to work. He would have an apple instead. Had life come to this? He could hear sounds of very loud music coming from the television next door. Then the door opened and Libby stormed in, grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl and tossed her hair sullenly. Simon decided to chance it.
“Do we have any cake in the house?”
Libby turned on him. “What?”
“Cake – do we have any cake in the house?”
“How would I know?”
Suddenly Simon remembered his wife was baking a few nights ago. He got up and looked hopefully in the fridge. Not much there. He tried the bread bin. There was something that looked like a rock cake and not appealing at all. Libby was still standing there.
“Are you eating on your feelings?” she said, glaring.
“Am I what?”
“We learned that in Psych.”
“Since when are you doing psychology?”
“I want to be a therapist.”
Simon stared at his daughter. He had not met anyone so lacking in compassion for years. Why on earth would she want to be a therapist? Libby crunched into the apple and narrowed her eyes at her father. “I’m going to work in the criminal justice system rehabilitating prisoners.”
The front door opened and his son swung in through the doors, throwing his schoolbag on the floor and kicking off his shoes. He stopped suddenly seeing his father and his sister doing a stand-off in the kitchen. Libby tossed her hair again and went back into the living room to watch television. Matt took out half a sandwich from the fridge and sat on the floor to eat it. Simon passed him a napkin so he didn’t drop food everywhere.
“Did you know your sister wants to work with criminals?”
Matt looked at him pityingly. “Libby wants to do whatever she sees on the television this week. She’s been watching those American shows again.”
“So I don’t need to worry?”
Matt finished his cheese sandwich and threw the paper napkin into the bin. “I’m not worried,” he said.
Simon felt better for a moment. Thank goodness they had two children.
“Where’s mum?” said Matt, grabbing his schoolbag to go upstairs and do homework.
“I don’t know.”
Matt shrugged. “I’m not worried,” he said, again.
Suddenly Simon was worried. Where was his wife? And would she bring some cake home from wherever she was?
Annabelle was standing outside Louis Patisserie on Hampstead High Street, her nose pressed up against the clotted cream pastries in the window. It all looked delicious and forbidden and wrong. Lydia opened the door and the little bell at the top of the lintel tinkled merrily. It was all so inviting, thought Annabelle. Lydia’s robes were more voluminous and darkest purple than usual and there was even a hint of gold thread throughout the bodice. She smiled encouragingly at Annabelle.
“They look lovely,” sighed Annabelle, nodding to the cakes.
“They look even lovelier inside on a plate with a pot of tea,” said Lydia, gently.
“I can’t eat them. They will go straight to my thighs.”
“I’m sure you have perfectly lovely thighs.”
“My tea is getting cold. Are you coming in?”
Annabelle hesitated, looked up and down the street, and then walked purposefully into the tearooms.
An hour later, Annabelle hurried down the street, fishing in her bag for her keys. Lydia was rushing behind.
Annabelle turned around, quickly.
“You can if you want to. These opportunities come along so rarely. Seize the day! Carpe Diem as the Romans said!” Lydia rushed on down Church Row towards the graveyard and turned left. Annabelle paused on her front doorstep. The door opened from the inside. Simon was standing there.
“I was worried.”
He looked down the street and saw the departing figure of Lydia floating past the church in her long skirts and flowing scarves. Annabelle silently handed him a box of cakes from Louis Patisserie and hurried inside. Gingerly he opened the box and sighed happily. Then he looked worriedly into the house. Why was she bringing cake home?