As the meeting ended, and people started drifting away, smaller groups of people formed. Some were simply friends having a chat. Some wanted to speak to one of the wardens or to the Vicar to ask questions, make suggestions or lay complaints. As even these few people dispersed, Mary Heath approached Beryl Wilson for a quiet word.
“Beryl, is something going on between Steve and Cathy?”
“Good gracious Mary, what on earth makes you ask that?”
“Well Beryl, two small things recently. Maybe something and nothing, but I thought that you may know if they are seeing each other.”
“How do you mean?” Beryl asked.
“You know him much better than I do, that’s why I’m asking, but last Saturday his car was parked outside Cathy’s house for a couple of hours. Then, on Tuesday, at our weekly dance here, Geoff announced the arrangements for a coming day trip to Blackpool. Steve wasn’t there because of the school Parents’ Evening but Cathy approached Geoff to ask whether he knew if Steve would be going. When Geoff said that he would, she said that she wanted a place on the trip too.”
“That’s weird,” Beryl said, “those two are normally sniping at each other – particularly Cathy at his beliefs. Anyway, Mary, I know nothing about anything like that.”
“As I said, it’s probably me adding two and two to make five,” said Mary.
As she walked away, Beryl looked perplexed. What Mary had said could make sense in the light of Steve’s ‘faith crisis,’ but it would have been dishonest of him not to have made that clear when he’d spoken to George and to the Vicar. ‘Very strange’,” she thought. “I’d better tell George all the same.”
Saturday 23rd April Steve’s House
It was Saturday morning once more and the weather was dry but cloudy. There was a light breeze. Cathy had driven up the High Street, turned right onto Eastway and then almost immediately right, after the Church’s car park entrance, into Vicarage Crescent. She passed Beryl and George’s house to park in front of Steve’s – a few houses further on. Like most of the other seven houses in the road, it was a late 1960’s semi-detached property. Other than the crescent of grass between the Crescent and the road, the only view from most of the houses was of the Church Hall across the road and the public-house next door to it. At Steve’s end, he would also be able to see Mike and Helen’s house – also across the road – and between that and the pub he had a limited view of the farmer’s field behind.
Steve’s front garden was much smaller than hers but was neatly laid out. A hanging-basket of multi-coloured violets hung beside his front door. The original wooden-framed front windows and door had all been replaced by pristine white double-glazed plastic versions. The windows all had a diamond-shaped lead pattern – though whether that was on the surface or internal, between the panes, she couldn’t tell from where she stood.
She walked down the paved-driveway, past his car, and rang the doorbell. She could hear the chimes from inside through the patterned glass and then saw his shape approaching. As he opened the door and beckoned her inside to his hallway he was smiling broadly. She noted the white-emulsioned, embossed wallpaper and the 1970’s style lampshade. A reproduction Lowry print on the facing wall had blued with age and exposure to light. As in her own house, the floors throughout seemed to have been covered with plain, colour-toned fitted carpet.
He took her coat and hung it up.
“Tea or coffee?” he asked.
“Would you do me a camomile tea please?” she asked. “There are a couple of tea-bags in there.” She passed him a paper bag which also contained some small cakes that she had baked early that morning. They were still warm, and their scent of their flavour rose from the bag as he opened it.
“They look and smell delicious,” he said, “Milk and sugar?”
“Neither thanks – I only use them with normal tea bags. I just felt like a change,”
He showed her through to his Living Room, then returned to busy himself in the kitchen.
My opening photo today, is one that you may remember from yesterday’s post – St Philip’s Church Hall – the scene of the opening conversation.
For a featured photograph I’ve again chosen one from earlier in the story – Steve’s house – the scene of Cathy’s visit.
EXIF data were: I took the photo using my Fujifilm 26 MP cropped sensor mirrorless camera with a 16-55 mm f/2.8 lens. The ISO was 500.