The Phoenix Time #61

Previously…….

‘He didn’t bring Janice back with him did he?’

Gloria burst out laughing.

‘Mum,’ she said, ‘You sound like a jealous teenager. Of course he didn’t.’

Charlotte asked to speak to Frank and asked if he’d mind popping round sometime in the next few days to cut the grass. He promised that he’d come on Saturday. He’d already arranged to spend Friday going through his things and deciding what he’d need to take with him when he moved in to his new home in a couple of weeks, and to do some shopping.

……..Continued

Saturday – Week Five

Frank was as good as his word. He arrived at Charlotte’s just after nine-thirty that morning. Charlotte had been shopping in Liverpool One the day before. She’d bought a new skirt and a blouse and treated herself to some expensive make up.

She’d been waiting for Frank since nine, sat on a chair near her front window to keep an eye on the street. She didn’t want to appear needy so she took her time answering the door.

‘Why didn’t you use your key?’ was her greeting.

‘Bloody Hell,’ he said, ‘I’ve not even got through the front door and you’re telling me off. I’ve a good mind to go back to Gloria’s and you can ask David to cut your grass.’

‘Oh don’t be so damn touchy. Would you like a cup of tea before you start?’

‘Go on then. Where? Kitchen, Breakfast Room?’

‘Let’s really live. Go and sit in the lounge. I’ll bring it in.’

When Gloria joined him carrying a tray with the drinks and some chocolate digestives, she found him standing in front of the fireplace examining the photo that Carrie had sent. He pointed to it.

‘Your work or your friend Carrie’s?’

‘Carrie’s’.

‘What happened to the photos you were going to send to me then – or didn’t you take any?’

Charlotte’s hand went to her mouth.

‘Oh Christ. Did I not send them? I’m so sorry. I really did mean to. Would you like to see them?

‘Of course I would. I asked you before you went to send me any you took of Durdle Door.’ He pointed to Carrie’s photo. ‘She’s a pro photographer isn’t she? I think you told me something about what she does. This is brilliant.’

Charlotte went to fetch her tablet and opening it she clicked and scrolled to the photographs that she’d taken and processed.

Frank asked to hold the tablet so that he could see the images better. He zoomed in to most of them and examined the detail.

‘Did you borrow Carrie’s camera for these?’ he asked. ‘They’re too sharp when zoomed to have been done with your phone.’

‘Let me show you,’ she said and went to bring her camera.

Frank admired it and scrolled through the unprocessed images.

‘And you took all these?’ he asked, ‘Not Carrie?’

‘I took them but Carrie showed me what to do.’

‘Well, Carrie’s a pro, but looking at these, you have a very good eye for composition.’

Charlotte was both thrilled and embarrassed and thanked him. He congratulated her on her choice of camera. He asked about the shots from the cemeteries and she explained that they’d been for the Local History group.

‘So, Carrie wasn’t with you at the graveyard?’ he asked.

When she agreed, he said that she’d done well, and that even if Carrie was an excellent mentor, Charlotte was obviously a quick learner.

She told him that she’d invited Carrie to come and stay for a week or so in June, given good weather, and told him her plans. He said that he hoped that Carrie would enjoy Devon and Cornwall. There would be plenty for her to photograph there.

‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘thanks for showing me your photos and your camera, but this isn’t getting the grass cut.’ He smiled and made his way to the garage to get the mower.

Charlotte felt that a weight had been rolled off her mind as she watched him handling the mower up and down the lawn, pausing every so often to empty the cuttings basket before continuing where he’d left off. He finished off the job with a strimmer for the edges and a lawn vacuum to suck up any stray cuttings. Even the different sounds had been relaxing.

He made to leave, but she asked him to stay with her a while.

‘Listen Charlie,’ he said, ‘I don’t know where I am with you these days. We’d been getting quite well again before you went to Dorset, such as that day at the bank, but ever since the day you returned you’ve been weird.’

‘Me being weird?’ she asked.

‘You came back, let me see, Monday May Sixth – Bank Holiday – Remember?’

‘Yes, Well? What of it?’ She was standing with her back to the kitchen sink, her arms folded across her chest, her face set in a sneer..

‘That’s almost three weeks ago; three weeks and I haven’t had a civil word off you since then Charlie. I sent you a text, offering to take you out for a meal but you sent me a really snotty reply. Okay, you wanted to see Gloria and spend some time on your own with her. That was fine, but there was no need for the way you expressed it.’

‘You’re right,’ she said. I do remember now, but I regretted it the moment I sent it. I’m sorry.’

‘Wow!’ he said, ‘At last. An apology from Charlotte the Great. Did you really think that I was going to go out of my way to speak to you after that?’

Featured Photo

A change of scenery today. Covid has been very much restricting where I can take Ted, my daughter’s Japanese Spitz dog for a walk each morning. The other day I ventured out to a different area of my hometown with him and I’ll share the images I shot today and for the next few days in this blog. The first one is a section of Nine Arches – an old railway viaduct at Earlestown. I was walking along a path that follows the Sankey Valley between St Helens and Widnes. The path passes through Warrington on its way.

I used my Pentax KP 64 MP cropped sensor camera and a 35 mm f/2 full-frame lens that I’m finding really useful in these times when it would be breaching lockdown to take a tripod with me. It’s light and compact – and it isn’t a hassle to try to take photographs while holding a dog on a lead. The shutter speed was 1/200 @ f/10. The ISO was 1600.

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