Here is the next part of my short story which seems to becoming something much longer! Lol and his un-named girlfriend who is narrating the story have inherited enough to buy and renovate a big house in the country. It and the grounds are totally dilapidated, but Lol insists on trying to rescue a summerhouse or folly from rampant brambles and ivy. She is used to his obsessions, but this one is becoming annoying. However she realises that he’s not alone when he’s working down there – she hears voices but never sees who he’s talking to. They must hide when they hear her coming, for some reason. At first she’s annoyed and then more concerned than annoyed about his secrecy. He goes off with them one day without telling her, and refuses to say where he’s been on his return but seems quiet and out of sorts. However, they decide to go to the local pub and he seems back to his normal self.
It was a pleasant evening, no it was more than a pleasant evening in the pub, it was a great evening because Lol, though still tired, really did seem much more like his old self. He’d drunk his first pint as if parched, and then as we played doms, moved onto crib and finally joined another couple, Martin and Julie, for a game of darts, he drank several more. It was just so… well, so normal! It seemed such an age since we had been with other people and talked about other things. Most tables were full, mostly men, mostly locals judging by their accents, and although some of them gave me and Julie, the other woman odd looks, they were friendly enough.
Last orders were called well before 10:30 and I wanted to say to Julie and Martin that it would be nice to meet up with them again, but that might have sounded odd or a bit desperate, so when we headed out we just agreed it had been a nice evening and we’d ‘see them around’.
“What a nice evening, Lol,” I said as we drove home.
“Brilliant pub, decent beer, and yes a nice evening!” and he began to sing. I laughed, and had a Scarlett O’Hara moment, tomorrow is another day!
I woke, heavy-headed as if I’d been pouring back the pints last night, not endless cokes. It took me a while to even open my eyes, and longer to move into a semi-upright position on the pillows. Lol had gone downstairs, to make breakfast I guessed. Would he make me a cup of tea and bring it up? Probably not.
He – well, we, used to love lazing in bed at weekends, one of us bringing tea, breakfast, coffee, listening to the radio, reading the papers and we’d lounge around, sometimes disgracefully late, getting up to dash to the pub before it closed after lunch.
This didn’t happen anymore, and over recent weeks, Lol had sprung from the bed and dashed off to wrestle with the overgrown undergrowth, sometimes snatching little more than some bread and butter.
I woke properly. Oh don’t say he was back at the folly! Surely our night off and being back to our normal selves had broken him of the habit? We’d talked about what needed doing inside, and wondering when the gingery giant would come to do the doors and windows and staircase…
Grumpily, not bothering to wash I pulled on clothes and stomped downstairs, the uneven creaky stairs with the rickety bannister soon to be ‘done’ by the ginger giant. I couldn’t really remember him because I’d barely glanced at him, or his dark haired friend who knew Lol. I’d been watching Lol come back to life meeting normal people, talking to someone who wasn’t me.
My stomp slowed and I descended thinking that maybe I should look at it all differently. It wasn’t as if Lol was lazing around as I worked on the house, he was busy, he was working hard, came in almost exhausted… I’d been so selfishly bound up with my own point of view.
We had the rest of our lives together. It wasn’t a case of giving him space, it was just me letting go of my annoyance.
The kitchen was empty but there was a note propped against the percolator. We could do with some shopping – shall we go to the village later? And someone says there’s a farm down the road by the Golden Lion that does eggs and stuff xx L xx
I can’t tell you how this cheered me! Right breakfast then crack on with painting!
Lol was different, subdued, distant – but not in a bad way, just as if his mind was on other things. Usually I could tell where he was because he would be whistling, or singing along to his little transistor radio, and most things he did with such energy I could hear him – crashing the pots as he washed up, feet thumping as he raced upstairs – or downstairs, his very being seemed to radiate a crackle of energy.
Now, since he’d gone off with his mysterious friends – and he still hadn’t told me where he’d gone or who they were, and I wasn’t going to ask him! – he seemed… well subdued and distant, compliant… Should I be worried? I wasn’t sure.