Saturday, January 14, 2012



The following day, having dispatched both Isaac and Max to their respective schools, Ellie soaks up the morning sun with a walk on the common with Pony and the girls in tow. A tractor buzzes in the distance, and freshly mown grass scents the air.

Daisy and Molly race on up ahead, chasing butterflies and scaring the crows, their high pitched squeals startling squirrels to run for cover. Pony lollops and bounces around them in ever-widening circles.

Although she's lived on the edge of the common for years, it's only since acquiring Pony that Ellie has began to explore it in earnest. The mutt's proven too untrustworthy for the local park, raping as he does every dog in his wake (of either sex), and also, because he usually chases down and drenches any hapless joggers on the tow path down by the river, Ellie has reluctantly taken to using the safer, less populated option of the common.

Making in the general direction of the wooden bridge, where, if the trickle of water allows, the girls can play "Drop Sticks", Ellie helps to gather up some twigs and dandelions, and is just about to add a buttercup to their collection when her bag rings. Delving beneath the assortment of tissues, wipes, pull-up nappies and sweet wrappers, she turfs out her phone.

"Hi Paige, how's you?"

"Hey there, Ellie - yeah, I'm fine - are you busy?"

She's not fine. Ellie recognises the flat tone. "I'm just on the common, it's a beautiful day, where are you, are you at home?"

Paige spends most of her time free-lancing for a small design group in Fulham, dividing her days between working either at their office or from home.

"I'm at home. Actually, I'm meant to be on my way to see a client, but I cancelled. I'll see him tomorrow, he wasn't too bothered, and I just couldn't face it today. I wondered what you might be up to, are you around at all?"

"Well, yeah, sort of, why? What's up?"

"Give you three guesses."

Ellie sighs. Poor Paige, she's a darling and one of her dearest friends. They go back a long way. She's bright, she's pretty, she also has a fierce intellect, and a wonderfully sharp sense of humour. She could land virtually any man she wants.  And then she has to go and marry Henry.

"You two have a row?"

"Not yet. He has to get home first."


"My beloved husband didn't come home last night."

"Oh, God Paige, why do you put up with it? Has he called?"

"No. And I'll be buggered if I'm about to call him."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm mad as hell, but yeah, I'm fine."

Of course she isn't.

Molly swings on Ellie's dress, "Mummy, mummy, come on - " She holds up a few fistfuls of grass, a slight diversification from the given spec. "Let's go!"

Daisy has already sped ahead, and is now gaily tossing her trophies over the wrong side of the bridge - she either doesn't seem to mind, or has entirely missed the whole point of the exercise.

"Listen Paige, I'll be home in another half-hour, tops. Have lunch with the girls and me, I'll toss a salad and open some wine, what do you say?"

"Sounds divine, but aren't you supposed to be doing something?"

"Only the ironing."



"Be doing you a favour, then?"


"Okay. Can I bring anything?"

Ellie bends down to scoop Molly up, balancing her on her hip, "Yes please, a very, very strict nanny, and the meanest dog-catcher you can possibly chase down."


Paige pours out her troubles as Ellie pours more wine.

"Thanks, Ellie."

"What for?"

She shrugs. "Listening, putting up with me."

"Hey, it cuts both ways, kid."

"Yeah, yeah - it does." She smiles wanly. "All the same," She raises her glass, "To friendship."


Up above their head, the thunder of Molly and Daisy's footfalls briefly subside, soon replaced by a rhythmic thump-cum-squeak. Ellie casts her eyes heavenwards, "They're jumping on our sodding bed again." Carrying the wine back to the fridge, she stops en route to yell threats of reprisal from the foot of the stair.

"What are you going to do?"

Paige shrinks into herself, and Ellie wishes she hadn't asked.

"I don't know. We'll have another screaming match, I guess, and not talk for days. I'll assume the role of the nagging wife, he'll turn himself into the injured party again. Same old, same old."

"Do you think he's seeing someone?"

"Don't know. Probably."

Shaking her head, "I don't get it Paige, you don't have any children - why stay?"

"Oh please don't, Ellie. I've no intentions of defending him, not to you, he's a selfish, manipulating bastard, I know. Just promise not to judge us, it's not all bad. I wouldn't be there if it was."

Reaching over, Ellie squeezes her friends hand, "Hey, it's okay."

The girls spin through the kitchen, and continue straight on, out the back door to join Pony in the yard. They both watch them through the window, as the girls unsuccessfully try to hoist him up the slide.
"Anyway, enough of me. Tell me, how's Isaac settling into his new school Does he like it?"

Gathering up the glasses to load in the dishwasher, Ellie notices Molly's shoes by the cloakroom, and raps on the window, beckoning for her to come back inside. "Fine, he loves it, but it's such a long day for him, he's the first pick up on the coach, and the last one dropped home. He's taking to falling asleep by around 6.30. Hang on.."

Marching out the back door, Ellie steers Molly indoors, chiding her to don her footwear.

"So it was a good move then, this new school?"

"I think so. At least he gets all his therapies there, speech, physio, occupational. And the classes are smaller. It makes life easier."

Daisy barrels in, in search of Molly, and decides on having juice, instead.

Pony yelps to be let in.

"Why do you call him Pony?"

"Huh? Oh. Well, Isaac didn't want a dog."

"Oh. Right."

"Hey, you haven't forgotten it's Isaac's birthday bash on Sunday?"

"What kind of a Godmother do you take me for?"

"Good.  Jeez, oh heck, just look at the time - I need to go and pick Max up, fancy coming?"

Paige shakes her head no, she still has work to do, besides, she wants to be home for when or if Henry slinks back. Kissing the babies fondly, she embraces Ellie, and promises to keep her posted.

Waving her friend off, Ellie tries hard not to show the anxiety that  grips her.

(More to follow, tomorrow.)


mythopolis said...

Hey, what do you know? I'm first on the scene. I really enjoyed observations on the children...their play. So true to life, I can just picture all that. And then the dog! How funny. So, you've painted these settings and people in ways I can imagine. And now we have Paige. I must wonder how her predicament may play out. And lastly, Ellie's anxieties. Certainly I want to know more about these people. So, I'll just sit here in front of my computer and wait for you tell me more. Don't just sit there reading this. Get back to work!!! it, Shrinky one.

Leslie: said...

I agree with myth...keep going! It's addictive! :D

Ms. A said...

I'll be back for more!

Ami said...

I love your writing.
I may love you, too. But don't tell anyone.

Barbara Shallue said...

This is wonderful - you are a true storyteller! More, please!

Shrinky said...

Hey there Dan, jeez, talk about a slave-driver . Ah, I'm having lots of fun with this one, 'cept (unlike SOME I know) I write at a snails crawl, it takes me forever to scrape a paragraph together - but I know where I want to take it, so like you say, s'pose I just need to quit the bitching and get on with it, don't I? (Grin)

Shrinky said...

Ahh, cheers Leslie, that's much appreceiated (smiling wide).

Shrinky said...

Hi there Ms. A, I'm so chuffed you're following this, makes the task of writing it so much more inviting for me!

Shrinky said...

Hahahaha, oh Ami, you slay me - and I love you too, of course - who couldn't?

Shrinky said...

Why THANK YOU Barbara, let me see what I can do..!

Akelamalu said...

I'm ready for the next instalment. :)

Shrinky said...

It's up!

chewy said...

Teaches me right...yesterday I had my nose buried in a paper paged book...and I missed your 2nd installment. Better for me, I get two of yours today.

chewy said...

"Huh? Oh. Well, Isaac didn't want a dog." :-)

Suldog said...

Fairly much the same comment as the first one, except to say I'm now a bit more intrigued. On to three!