He shouted after her, ‘You can send me the bikini ones as well.’
She turned, ‘I was going to save those for the widowers at the dance group.’
She stuck her tongue out at him, turned and continued walking.
As he started walking back to the car park, it struck him that, because Gloria, Peter and Davina would be having their Sunday tea at Charlotte’s, he’d need to do some food shopping himself. It wouldn’t do for him to be spending all his pension in restaurants and cafes. He braved the rain as he headed to the Supermarket to browse for something tasty but easy to cook. He might even see Charlotte there for some advice.
Sunday again – the first day of Week Two.
Dinner for seven
Charlotte stood in the kitchen, looking out at the garden. Birds were still flocking to the feeders. The grass had grown a couple of inches since the last time Frank had mowed it. Everywhere there was colour now, tulips, fuchsias, the gorgeous blue lithospermum, berberis, the azaleas. She was looking at the spectacle, but not really noticing it. It had not been much later than this the previous Sunday, when she had lost her temper with Frank – and look what that had led to. She could have done with him here now to do some of the fetching and carrying that she’d sent him to do last time. At least there would be enough chairs out: he hadn’t put the extra ones back in the loft.
“Oh! This all feels so wrong,” she said out loud to herself.
The first to arrive was David, with Jake and Grace. She noticed immediately that they seemed uneasy. What had happened last week was an ‘elephant in the room’. None of them were making proper eye contact with her. There was none of the usual verbal sparring between the children. It was as if she’d grown an extra head.
‘Dad’s not back yet then?’ David asked.
‘No love, he’s not,’ she replied.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘Come on, out of the kitchen kids. David, love, you couldn’t lend me a hand could you?’
She asked him to carry some things through to the dining room. As he was doing this, Gloria arrived with Peter and Davina. Gloria went to help her mum in the kitchen while Peter and Davina joined Grace and Jake.
Conversation during the meal was polite but somewhat forced, as if everyone, including Charlotte was remembering the last meal they’d all shared. Frank’s empty chair might as well have been a gravestone.
After the meal, Charlotte ordered everyone into the lounge. She insisted that she’d have plenty of time after they’d gone to clear up.
It was still light outside through the leaded bay windows: sunset wouldn’t be for more than an hour yet. David was the one to break the ice.
‘Gloria tells me that you’re having a few days away mum,’ he said.
She confirmed that she would be leaving the following morning and would be returning on the Monday of the following week. She described her planned route and told them that the hotel she’d booked was in Lyme Regis. She told them also of the places that she hoped to visit, weather permitting.
‘What does Gramps say about your trip?’ asked Davina.
‘Not a lot,’ she replied, ‘I was teasing him about it yesterday.’
She described their exchange.
‘What has he had to say about your dance class?’ David asked.
‘He seemed a bit taken aback when I told him how several widowers all wanted me as their partner,’ she answered.
‘Is that right, then?’ he asked.
‘Well, yes – up to a point,’ she said.
I took this photo last week (12/02/2021) at Sherdley Park, St Helens, Merseyside. It’s another of several shots that I took of the bare-branched trees. The branches of most of them already bear buds, and soon these lovely structures will be hidden by summer foliage.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/400 at f/9 and the ISO was 640 The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.