The Postcard … releasing this week!

Hello everyone! Exciting news!birdcage

My first novella, The Postcard  a magical ghost story set in Cornwall, during Christmas time will be released this week! I will do an update with the exact date as soon as it’s live on Amazon.

But as a sort of sneak peak, I thought I would share with you all the first two chapters … before I get told to take it down as I’ve subscribed to KDP Select, grin.

Hope you like it!

Chapter one

The Writing Desk

Even now, it seemed to wait. Part of me, a small irrational part, needed it to stay exactly where it was atop the faded, Persian rug; bowing beneath the visceral pulse of her letters and the remembered whisper from the scratch of her pen. The rosewood chair with its slim turned out legs suspended forevermore in hopeful expectation for her return. Like me, I wondered if it couldn’t help but wish that somehow she still could.
I hadn’t had the strength to clear it, or the will. Neither had Dad, and so it remained standing sentry as it had all throughout the years with Mum at the wheel, the heart, the hub of the living room.
If I closed my eyes I could still hear her hum along to Tchaikovsky, her pre-Christmas music, as she wrapped up presents with strings, ribbons, and clear cellophane into which she’d scatter stardust and moonbeams, at least so it seemed to my young eyes. Each gift, a gift within a gift.
One of my earliest memories is of me sitting before the fire, rolling a length of thick red yarn for fat Arnold, our squashed face Persian, who languished by the warmth, his fur pearly white in the glow. His one eye open while his paw twitched as if to say he’d play, if only he could find the will. In the soft light Mum sat and laughed, the firelight casting lowlights in her long blonde hair. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, away from the memory of her smile.
Dad wanted me to have it: her old writing desk. I couldn’t bear to think of the living room without it, but he insisted. He’d looked at me, above his round horn-rimmed glasses, perpetual tufts of coarse grey hair that poked out mad-hatter style on either side of his head, and said with his faraway philosopher’s smile, ‘Ivy, it would have made her happy, knowing that you had it …’ And I knew I’d lost. Still it had taken me two weeks to get up the nerve. Two weeks and Stuart’s gentle yet insistent prodding. He’d offered to help, to at least clear it for me, and bring it through to our new home so that I wouldn’t have to face it. Wouldn’t have to reopen a scar that was trying it’s best to heal. He’d meant well. I knew that he would’ve treated her things reverently; he would’ve stacked all her letters, tied them up with string, his long fingers slowly rolling up the lengths of old ribbon and carefully putting them away into a someday box that I could open when I was ready. It was his way, his sweet, considerate Stuart way. But I knew I had to be the one who did it. Like a bittersweet rite of passage, some sad things only you can do yourself. I gathered up my will, along with the box at my feet and began.
It was both harder and easier than I expected. Seeing her things as she left them should have made the lump in my throat unbearable, it should have been intolerable, but it wasn’t. I began with the drawer, emptying it of its collection of creamy loose leafed paper, fine ribbons, and assorted string, working my way to the heart of the Victorian desk, with its warren of pigeon holes filled with old letters, patterned envelopes, stamps, watercolour brushes, and tubes of half-finished paint.
But it was the half-finished tasks that made the breath catch in my throat. A hand-painted Christmas card, with Santa’s sleigh and reindeer flying over the chimney tops, poor Rudolph eternally in wait for his little watercolour nose. Mum had always made her own, more magical and whimsical than any you could buy. My fingers shook as I held the card in my hand, my throat tight. It’s little wonder I became a children’s book illustrator. I put it on top of the pile, so that later I could paint in Santa’s missing guiding light.
It’s only when I made to close the desk that I see it, a paper triangle peeking out from the metal hinge. It’s tightly wedged but after some wiggling I pry it loose, only in a way, to wish I hadn’t.
It’s a beautiful, vintage French postcard, like the ones we bought when we holidayed there when I was fifteen and fell in love with everything en Français. It has a faded sepia print of the Jardin des Tuileries on the cover, and in elegant century print it read Carte Postale on the back.
It was blank. Except for two words, two wretchedly perfect little words that caused the tears that had threatened all morning to finally erupt.
Darling Ivy
It was addressed to me. I didn’t know which was worse: the unexpected blow of being called ‘Darling Ivy’ one last time, finding out she’d had this last unexpected gift waiting for me all along, or that she’d never finish it. I suppose it was a combination of all three.
Three velvet tipped daggers that impaled my heart.
I placed it in the box together with the unfinished Christmas card and sobbed as I hadn’t allowed myself to for years. Five years ago, after she passed, I believed that I’d never stop. A friend had told me that ‘time heals all wounds’ and it had taken every ounce of strength not to give her a wound that time would never heal, even though I knew she’d meant well. Time, I knew couldn’t heal this type of wound. Death is not something you get over. It’s the rip that exposes life in a before and after chasm, and all you can do is try to exist as best you can in the after. Time could only really offer a moment when the urge to scream would become a little less.
Another friend of mine, who lost his leg and his father in the same day, explained it better. He said that it was a loss that every day you manage, and some days are better than others, and that seemed fair. He’d said that death for him was like the loss of the limb, as even on those good days you were living in the shadow of what you had lost. It wasn’t something you recovered from completely, no matter how many people, yourself included, pretended otherwise. Somehow that helped, and I’d gotten used to living with it, which I suppose is what he meant.
The desk wasn’t heavy. Such a substantial part of my childhood, it felt like it should weigh more than it did, but it didn’t and I managed it easily alone. I picked it up and crossed the living room, through the blue carpeted passage, pausing only to shift it slightly as I exited the back door towards my car, a mint green Mini Cooper.
Setting the desk down on the cobble path, I opened up my boot, releasing the back seats so they folded over before setting the desk on top with a little bit of careful manoeuvring. It felt strange to see it there, smaller than I remembered. I shut the boot and went back inside for the chair and the box where I’d placed all her things; there was never any question of leaving it behind. On my way back, I locked up Dad’s house, a small smile unfurling as I noticed the little wreath he’d placed on the door, like a green shoot through the snow after the longest winter. It hadn’t been Christmas here for many years.

Back to my car, I squeezed the chair in next to the desk and placed the box on the passenger seat before I climbed in and started the engine. As the car warmed, I looked at my reflection in the side mirror, and laughed, a sad groaning little laugh. My eyeliner had made tracks all down my face leaving a thick trail into my ears, and little black blobs on either side of my lobes so that I looked like I’d participated in some African ritual, or had survived the marsh pit as a death metal Goth at least. Somewhat incongruous with my long dark blonde curls, coral knitted skullcap and blue eyes.
I wiped my face and ears, and grinned despite myself, ‘God Mum, thanks for that.’ I put the car in gear and backed out of the winding drive, towards the coastal road.
Cornwall.
It’s hard to believe I’m back, after all these years. London had been exciting, tiring and trying. And grey so very grey. Down here, it seems, is where they keep the colour, and my senses feel as if they’ve been turned up.
For a while, London had been good though, especially after Mum. For what it lacked in hued lustre it made up for by being alive with people, ideas, and the hustling bustle. It was a different kind of pace. A constant rush. Yet, lately I’d craved the stillness and the quiet. So when The Fudge Files, a children’s fiction series that I co-wrote and illustrated with by my best friend Catherine Talty about a talking English bulldog from Cornwall who solves crimes became a bestseller and we received a substantial royalty, we were finally able to escape to the country.
Stuart, in his own way, wanted the move more than I did; he was one of those strange creatures who’d actually grown up in London, and he’d decided it was high time that he tried something else.
In typical Stuart fashion, he had these rather grand ideas about becoming a self-sustaining farmer, something akin to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and that we’d set up a smallholding similar to Hugh’s River Cottage. The simple fact of it being Cornwall, and not Dorset, were considered inconsequential. Which, perhaps it was. I had to smile. Our ‘River cottage’ was called ‘Sea Cottage’ (very original, that) yet every bit as exquisite as its namesake, with a rambling half acre of countryside alongside rugged cliffs that overlook the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic Ocean. So far our ‘livestock’ consisted of four laying hens, two grey cats named Pepper and Pots, and an English bulldog named Muppet – the living, slobbering and sweet inspiration behind Detective Sergeant Fudge (Terrier Division) of The Fudge Files as created by Catherine, Muppet’s official godmother.
Despite Stuart’s noble intentions, he was finding it difficult to come to terms with the idea of keeping animals as anything besides pets. Personally, I was a little grateful for that. We assuaged our consciousness though by ensuring that we supported local organic farmers, where we were sure that all the animals were humanely treated.
But what we lacked in livestock, Stuart made up for in vegetation. His potager was his pride and joy, and even now in the heart of winter, he kept a polytunnel greenhouse that kept us in fresh vegetables throughout the year. Or at least that was the plan; we’d only been here since late summer. I couldn’t imagine his excitement come spring.
For me, Cornwall was a fresh start with my first ever art studio in the attic with its dove grey walls, white wooden floors, a wall full of shelves brimming with all my art supplies from fine watercolour paper, to piles of brushes, and paint in every texture and medium that my art shop loving heart could afford, that and the mammoth table with its slim Queen Anne legs dominating the room, alongside the twin windows, made it a haven, with its view of the rugged green countryside and the shimmering blue sea, one where I planned to finish writing and illustrating my first solo children’s book. With the studio and the news that we’d been waiting seven years to hear it would all be a new start for us.
I was finally, finally pregnant.
Seven rounds of in vitro fertilisation, which included 2553 days, 152 pointless fights, five serious, one mortgage, countless stolen tears in the dead of the night in the downstairs bathroom, my fist wedged in my mouth to stem the sound, and infinite days spent wavering between hope and despair, wondering if we should just give up and stop trying. That day, thankfully, hadn’t come.
And now I was eight weeks pregnant. I still couldn’t believe it. We hadn’t told Dad yet; I didn’t want to get his hopes up, or tempt fate, we’d played that black card before.
Our hopes … well they’d already soared above the stars.
It was why I so desperately wished Mum was here now. I know it would have made all of this more bearable. She had a way of making sense of the insensible, of offering hope at the darkest times, when all I wanted to do was run away, I missed how we used to sit up late at night by the fire in the living room, a pot of tea on the floor while fat Arnold dozed at her feet, and she soothed my troubled fears and worries, the most patient of listeners, the staunchest of friends. Now, with so many failed pregnancies, including two miscarriages the memory of which was like shrapnel embedded in our hearts, so that our lives had been laced with an expectant tinge of despair, primed for the nightmare to unfold, never daring to hope for the alternative. Except now, now we were encouraged to hope, it was different, everyone said so, and I needed to trust that this time, it would finally happen, that we’d finally have a baby, like the doctors seemed to think we would. Stuart had been wonderful, as had Catherine, but I needed Mum really, and her unshakeable unbreakable faith.
There are a few times in a woman’s life when she needs her mother. For me, my wedding was one, and I was lucky to have her there, if luck was what it was, because it seemed to be sheer and utter determination on her part. It had been so important to her to be there, even though all her doctors told us to say our goodbyes. I will never know what it cost her to hold on the way she did, but she did, and she stayed a further two years after that. In the end, it was perhaps the cruellest part, because when she did go, I’d convinced myself that somehow, she’d be able to stay.
But this, this was different. I needed her now, more than ever. As I drove, the unstoppable flow of tears pooling in my neck, I wished that we could have banked those two years, those two precious years that she had fought so hard and hung on, so that she could be here with me now when I needed her most.

Chapter two

Missing Paint

The desk fit under the alcove in my attic-turned studio, as if that was where it was always meant to be. With its view spanning the ocean and the tumbling green countryside, the little writing desk seemed a familiar yet unfamiliar object. In a way, I was grateful for its unobtrusiveness. In the weeks before I summoned the courage to fetch it, I’d wondered if I would ever be able to actually use it. But having it here removed from my childhood home, felt different, not quite as embedded in the salt sting memory of her, so perhaps I could.I’d brought it upstairs as soon as I arrived home. Thankfully, Stuart had gone to the country market. I needed a quiet moment alone with the desk to get reacquainted and to sift through my emotions. He’d left a hurried note in blue ink held in place on the fridge with a porcelain magnet that read: ‘Gone to see a man about turnips. Jam a possibility …’
Good lord, I thought. Let’s hope not. I was still recovering from the pak choi jelly. Don’t ask.
I had to laugh at how different our lives had become. Just a few months ago in London, a message from Stuart would ping on my mobile telling me to have dinner without him, or that I should go along to friend’s alone because he was stuck in some or other longwinded executive meeting. As a senior marketing director for a large pharmaceutical company, Stuart had run on the fumes of lack of sleep, filter coffee, and the unmistakable, and unrelenting feeling that he was living a life against his values. As much as he tried to convince himself that their practices were ethical, that they were helping save millions of lives, he couldn’t help but notice how some products were rushed into the market barely out of trials when a few more months of analysis and study may have halved the side effects, or how expensive and inaccessible their medications were for those who really needed them, and how fat and wealthy the top administrative flotsam had become.
He would come home to find me seated at the large dining room table (the one I’d painted French white and vowed we’d dine on every night after a holiday in Provence, and that we’d yet to eat a meal on as it housed all my various and sundry art supplies). He’d pull up a chair next to me, look at one of my latest illustrations of Muppet aka ‘Detective Sergeant Fudge’ or my pet project, the one I dabbled on in that twilight hour after midnight when the world was asleep and I created my own magical forest realm, capturing the adventures of a most adventurous mouse named Mr Tibbles, who made his home among the enchanted toadstools in the Lake District. Stuart’s tired espresso coloured eyes would light up and he’d stare at the images and exclaim ‘Mr Tibbles went to Devon?’ picking up from where I’d left the story the night before.
I smiled, showing him Mr Tibbles’s most recent expedition, which included cream tea with his cousin Molly and a trip to the seaside.
‘Tonight they are going to a night market in the forest.’
Stuart’s face lit up, his dark eyes hopeful, ‘With fairy lights?’
‘With fairy lights,’ I agreed.
‘That’s good, I like fairy lights …’ he mumbled, resting his weary face on his arms, and closing his eyes. I smoothed Stuart’s dark silky black hair off his forehead, worried at how stressed he’d become.
So this year, when he’d suggested a different pace, I readily agreed. We were fortunate enough to have some savings and, with the royalties from The Fudge Files, we were able to buy the house. But to keep the inflow of cash ticking over, Stuart had begun a series of successful, and some not so successful (see pak choi incident), home industry creations under his ‘Sea Cottage’ label, which I’d helped design.
I placed Mum’s box of things on an empty spot on one of the heaving shelves that lined the wall at the back of my studio. Only to pause, open it and remove the unfinished postcard and Christmas card and place them in the writing desk along with a display of my fine watercolour brushes in a glass jar, a haphazard pile of watercolour paper, a large dusk-pink paper peony, blotting pads and a photo of Mum and I, both with identical grins and teary eyes, taken on my wedding day.
Stuart found me sitting there not long after, staring at the little Christmas card, deep in thought. ‘Pretty,’ he said giving me a kiss. ‘Getting in the spirit?’ Smiling at me with those dark, gentle eyes that crinkled at the corners. I smiled, ‘It was Mum’s, – I found it in her desk. She hadn’t finished it.’
He looked at it, and shook his head, ‘She was very talented; it’s gorgeous. Are you going to finish off his little nose?’
I tilted my head, considering. ‘I’ve been trying to decide.’
He pulled up a chair from the old dining table that was now my official studio table (the long ingrained paint marks had helped this decision along), his impossibly long legs stretched out in front of him, and stared at me, his hand in his palm, dark eyes thoughtful, ‘What’s to decide?’
‘Well. It’s a bit mad, I know. My first thought was that I would … but now -.’
‘But now?’ he asked, forehead creased.
‘But now, I’m not sure I should.’
His nodded slowly, eyes solemn. ‘Well, you’ll figure it out.’
I smiled at him and shook my head. ‘You know, that’s one of the things I love about you. You always get it.’
‘Just one of the things that you love about me?’ he said in mock affront, eyes wide, sitting up straight.
I raised a brow, ‘Well, it certainly won’t be turnip jam,’ I replied unable to hide my grin.
He frowned, ‘Am I due a talk?’
I nodded. ‘Mr Everton, we need to talk,’ I said seriously.
He sighed, dramatically, flinging his forearm across his head in horror. ‘Is it about the jam?’
I nodded. ‘It is about the jam.’
He hung his head.
I patted his knee, ‘My love, the truth is … not everything is meant to be jam. I think that some vegetation is destined for other possibilities, wondrous and transformative, definitely … but not in the jam family really, maybe they’d be better off as pickles or curd possibly, not that I am entirely sure what curd is, but possibly that, or even chutney.’
‘Chutney?’ he said, his eyes lighting up at the possibility.
‘Chutney,’ I concurred.
He got that look in his eye, so I hastened to add firmly, ‘But not for turnips.’
‘Ah.’ His shoulders drooped. ‘Tomas said much the same thing,’ he said with a small sad sigh, referring to the eighty-five–year-old French vegetable guru who lived in Land’s End, and was giving Stuart a very practical education on vegetable preservation to Stuart’s rather creative chagrin.
‘Good man,’ I said with a wink, silently thanking the heavens for Tomas’s wise counsel.
He nodded, eyes amused, laughter lines crinkling at the corners, ‘He’s trying.’
‘And what’s this?’ asked Stuart, picking up the empty postcard. ‘My god,’ he said looking at the old card in awe and noting Mum’s fine script. ‘It’s addressed to you,’ he breathed.
I nodded.
Level?’ he asked eyes grave.
Eight on the Everton Scale.’
Stuart and I had developed our own emotional pain scale during Mum passing and our failed conceiving years. Eight was code for: mild heart attack.
‘I can imagine,’ he said leaning over and giving me a hug, ‘though the weird black tracks leading to your ears are a bit of a clue,’ he teased.
I mock smacked his arm.
‘It’s just so strange. I mean, why would she start writing me a postcard from a place we’d gone to together?’ I asked. ‘And then …stop?’
He shook his head, and leant the card against the pink paper peony, ‘Very strange,’ he agreed. ‘But it’s nice that she was thinking of you.’
I nodded. But still I couldn’t help but wonder … what had she left unsaid?
Stuart didn’t offer much in the way of speculation. He was comfortable with it just being a mystery.
Men. Honestly.
He gave the card a last frown, and said, ‘I’m thinking rocket pesto and prosciutto linguine,’ and I answered with ‘I’m thinking yes. Starving,’ and grinned. He left with a salute, clicking his brown wellington-clad heels together. I shook my head and laughed.
I am one of those lucky marvels whose husband has banned them from the kitchen, the last and now permanent ban was during an Everton Three (door slamming on hand) when he’d lamented in a crazed manner to no one in particular after my failed tomato soup experiment, ‘She’d burn air, so she would,’ accompanied by wild pacing around the tomato splattered linoleum.
I took the time while he was occupied to call Catherine.
She answered on the second ring. ‘Was it brutal?’ She asked, in lieu of a hello, well appraised of the writing desk expedition. Muppet, seemed to sense her presence and begun whining for her favourite unlawful feeder, while gently scraping off the skin of my shin with her paw.
‘You’ve no idea,’ I said filling her in on the day, and how difficult it was packing up Mum’s desk, while I redistributed my shins to safety.
When I told her about the postcard though, the creator of Detective Sergeant Fudge offered a few ideas. The last – and the worst – unfortunately seemed to offer the most sense, and I had to conclude that it seemed the most likely.
Catherine suggested, ‘Maybe it was just a mistake – like she was talking to you and meant to write a card to someone else and put your name instead? I mean, it happens to me rather a lot, I’m afraid.’
Being a writer, I took her word for it. But the prospect was rather awful. I’d hoped despite the pain that it would no doubt cause me, that maybe Mum had had some final thing left to say; perhaps one last ‘I love you’ or a bit of her typically idiosyncratic, but usually sage wisdom. Any last little bit of her would do really than this inexplicable emptiness.
At my silence, Catherine hastened to add. ‘Ivy – I could be wrong. I mean, who knows. You know your Mum. She wasn’t the kind of woman to leave things unfinished, if she’d done that – made a mistake with your name, chances are you would have gotten it anyway, she’d have told you the funny story and that it was probably because she was meant to tell you that she loved you or something and mailed it to you. She was like that …’
I smiled at the recollection, my throat a little tight. She was right too. It still amazed me how well Catherine knew Mum. Though then again we’d grown up together. Catherine hadn’t had a Mum, hers had died when she was born, and she loved Mum rather fiercely. It was a very mutual affection, Mum had loved absentminded Cat who spent most of our childhood with her head in a book dearly too, so perhaps her intuitive knowledge of Mum wasn’t surprising at all.
She had a point though; Mum wasn’t the type to leave things undone. She was thrifty and imaginative, and could be counted on to turn a faux pas into something special. It was one of her best qualities that I hoped to emulate someday. My eye fell onto the little Christmas card, and Rudolph’s missing nose.
How could she have left these unfinished?
Perhaps, the simplest answer was that in the end faced with such pain, it was hardly surprising that a few things would have come undone.
After Catherine rung off to ‘feed the horde’ which consisted of her husband Richard and three sons Tim, Jason, and Ben, all under the age of seven; I didn’t mention that Stuart was cooking dinner, it seemed far too cruel. I decided I’d give Rudolph his nose. I crossed the wooden floor to the shelves behind, in search of the perfect shade of crimson gouache, only to shake my head in puzzlement as my search left me empty handed. I scratched around and behind all the boxes, paints, and paper, to no avail. I walked the length of my studio, searching the long table, and even the open writing desk, though I knew I hadn’t placed it there. Nothing. And I knew I’d had it. I’d bought the crimson just days before in an art shop in Penzance; it’s the colour I’d used for Mr Tibbles’s special raincoat. The more I looked; I noticed something stranger still. It wasn’t just the crimson that was gone, but every last shade of red in every medium I owned was missing as well. From my watercolours, acrylic, ink, pen, gouache … all the burgundies, clarets, scarlets, and all the shades in between … it was all, simply gone.
It was desperately odd. I have my scatter-brained moments sure, but nothing like this. Especially not as a professional artist. We’re often, despite the label of ‘creative messiness’, neat and tidy out of sheer necessity as damaged hundred pound paint brushes can attest. So where were they?
I set Rudolph down next to the empty postcard, wondering if perhaps Stuart hadn’t decided to take up homemade signage with my supplies.
Though I really would have thought, he valued his life more than that.
I found him in the kitchen, his face bathed in steam from the simmering contents in the pan, which he was scenting with blissful intensity. He caught me staring and beckoned me over with a dreamy smile and inclination of his head, eyes dancing. I smiled and breathed in the aromatic bouquet of garlic and cream.
‘You should bottle that,’ I said.
‘Eau de Sea Cottage?’ he asked, with a quirk of the lips.
‘Oh yes.’
He laughed, ‘Well, it’s ready if you are.’
I quickly fetched two plates from the Welsh dresser I’d lovingly restored and painted a deep Provençal blue, piling the thick ceramic plates high with the creamy pasta, while Stuart carried the cutlery to our little conservatory in the front of the house, which had become a favoured winter retreat, catching the last of the sun, and the sunset while we dined.
I had plans for a velvety blue chaise lounge and a fireplace, and perhaps some flowers and plants. I’m sure I could keep one alive? Stuart would probably help.
‘Red?’ he asked.
‘Yes! I’ve been looking everywhere!’ I exclaimed over my shoulder, almost cricking my neck as Stuart passed me on his way back into the kitchen.
He pivoted on his heel; two wine glasses in his hand. ‘Sorry?’ he said, dark eyes puzzled.
I shifted the plates in my hand, ‘Oh, you meant wine … though you know I can’t. I thought you were referring to my missing red paint…?’
He frowned, ‘Missing paint? Anyway, I was going to offer you apple or cranberry juice so you don’t feel left out.’
‘Thanks, the cranberry please, never could abide white wine, not about to pretend now.’ I said with a laugh, then raised a brow, not to be distracted, ‘You didn’t by any chance take all my red paint? Like every last shade in every single bloody medium I own, by any chance?’
He laughed. ‘You’re joking. I value my neck a little more than that … I still remember the brush incident of ’06, Everton Four (broken toe) at least.’
I laughed. ‘Darn right … that was a pure kolinsky sable red, a legend among watercolour brushes at an eye-watering £70 a pop and you used it …’ I took a steadying breath, the memory even now, caused mild panic.
‘To paint glue on the loose skirting board,’ he said, his head down, foot doing a half circle on the wooden floor in mock shame.
I narrowed my eyes. ‘Uh-huh. The skirting board … I’d hardly say it was level Four though. More like Two (nasty irritating paper cut).
Stuart lifted his head, eyes wide, ‘Speak for yourself, Muppet and I took shelter for weeks afterwards,’ he said dramatically, a theatrical shudder at the memory.
I raised a brow, Muppet, who had been eyeballing our exchange and the plates in my hands hopefully, cocked her head, almost in doubt.
‘I’d hardly say weeks … and Muppet was on my side.’ I pointed out.
Muppet didn’t argue; she just stood in a puddle of her own drool.
‘Days surely? And, no she wasn’t, she hid with me in my shed,’ he insisted in mock horror.
‘More like an hour or two, and if by ‘shed’ you mean your man cave outside with your Xbox, well … Muppet knows where you keep the crisps,’ I laughed.
‘Point. Longest hour of my life, I hate it when you’re mad at me,’ he grinned, boyishly.
I laughed, ‘I’m never really mad …’
He waggled his brows, ‘If you say so,’ and side stepped my ankle kick. ‘You see, Muppet …you see?’ he exclaimed.
Muppet gave him a rather scornful look, followed by a bulldog huff. All she saw apparently was that we were ignoring food, food that could be coming to her.I took the food outside while he went to fetch the bottle of red and my cranberry juice. It was only later after we had finished dinner, cleared up the kitchen, and were relaxing, Muppet on my lap, watching the last remnants of the sunset with its wash of pink and gold, that I remembered the missing paint, considering the possibility that I had just, in the emotional residue of the day, overlooked it in some way. Though I didn’t see how that was possible.

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