Richard Pierce

Life, Sport, Writing

Day 180

Last night, after dinner, on our daily walk, an old sports injury in my right foot flared up. It hurt like hell, so when we got back (and I shouldn’t really have insisted on walking the full 2 miles), we went into the hotel bar, and I asked St to fill a plastic glove with ice so I could ice the damn thing. That made it hurt even more, but at least there’s no swelling. And this morning, after we’d installed ourselves on the beach (M in the full sun, me in the full shade) I walked to the nearest apotek (pharmacy to you and me) and bought some ibuprofen and some arnica 30c (which they sell in capsules filled with lots of tiny pills, Euro1.20 per capsule). The young lady in the apotek had her two small children with her, which was really cute (and I love the fact that children are so much a part of daily life here rather than the damn English attitude that they shouldn’t be seen never mind heard). She was very kind to me when I apologised for not speaking Greek, and when I said efkhariksto para poli she said “But you ARE Greek!” How we laughed! So I’ve taken one arnica 30c capsule and I’ll take my first ibuprofen after lunch.

When M glides in and out of the sea in a style far superior to that of Ursula Andress (and Daniel Craig, for that matter), and thankfully far less voluptuous, I’m waiting for someone to tell me to stop staring at that woman so I can say “Actually, that’s my wife.” I daresay it won’t happen. I can dream.

This morning has been quite sobering, because I’ve had lots of congratulatory messages on having survived another year, and now I’m only 6 months away from being halfway through my preferred life-span. Maybe I’ll extend it when I do get to halfway.

My brain, of course, tells me the injury has flared up because I’m not pushing hard enough, because I’m spending most of every day just sitting around doing nothing. And I believe my brain. Which is why, by the time I post this, I’ll have worked on three separate pieces of fiction in one day. That is something I never thought I’d so or say.


‘I haven’t got my key, of course,’ Lilibet says, and lets go of Aggie’s hand. They have stopped in front of one of the modest terraced houses, about half way down the street, with a metal fence and gate at the front.

‘Someone must have been looking after it,’ Aggie says. ‘The grass looks well-tended.’

‘Don’t hold your breath,’ Lilbet says. ‘Grass doesn’t tend to grow much here at this time of year.’ She raises her hand to ring the door bell.

Aggie snatches her hand away from it. ‘Careful. It could be anyone behind that door.’

‘I had thought of that, bit discounted it.’

‘They got to you here. What makes you think they won’t try again?’

‘Because they don’t know you got to me.’ Lilibet grins. ‘They don’t know where I am or who I’m with. They don’t know anything. I could be dead in York Minster for all they care. Just more collateral damage.’

Aggie hasn’t let go of Lilibet’s hand, slowly brings it to her mouth and gently kisses the very tips of her fingers. ‘I got to you, did I? Not you to me?’

‘It looks like that cuts both ways.’ Lilibet reciprocates the gesture, and locks eyes with Aggie as she does so. ‘Come and meet my children.’

‘We hope.’ She finally lets go of Lilibet’s hand, her companion’s kisses still lingering on her fingers like flower petals.

‘We hope,’ Lilibet says, and presses the bell.

There are steps inside, and, a few moments later, the door is opened a few inches. ‘Who is it?’ The voice is quiet but strong.

‘It’s me, Mother,’ Lilibet says, and pushes the door wider open.

‘My bairn,’ the voice says, excitedly, but qithout being raised. ‘Where in heaven’s name have you been?’

‘Later, later,’ Lilibet says. ‘I want to see the kids first.’

‘They were asleep till you rang the bell.’ The voice, and its healthy red face, opens the door fully. ‘The police told us we were wasting their time.’ The woman turns to Aggie. ‘And who’s your wee friend here?’ She closes the door as quickly as she can.

‘She rescued me,’ Lilibet says. ‘It’s a long story.’

‘Mammy!’ Two tiny girls come chasing down the hall, and Lilibet scoops them up into her arms, buries her face in their wild blonde hair. ‘We missed you.’

‘I missed you, too. Sorry I’ve been away. It’s very complicated.’ She puts them down, and they run back upstairs, as only children can, ignoring real world problems as soon as they’ve been solved, not because they don’t care, but because they mean nothing to them then.

‘I didn’t want to scare them,’ Lilibet says. ‘Not with the truth.’ her face is sad.

‘Come and have some coffee,’ Lilbet’s mother says. ‘Your father’s in the kitchen, keeping himself to himself as normal.’

‘What exactly did the police say?’ Aggie asks.

The woman raises an eyebrow. ‘They brought the girls back here from the air museum. Said Betty…’


‘They said Lilibet had abandoned the girls, and gone off with some man. Well, we knew that couldn’t be right. It’s been ages since…’

‘Mum. Not necessary.’

‘So I called them again,’ Lilibet’s father says, a small wiry man with bright eyes and a massive red beard. ‘Because I didn’t want Morag there scaring the living daylights out of them. And they told me to stop pestering them, because my girl had run off of her own accord.’

‘What number did you call?’ Aggie says.

‘The one the young lad gave us on his card,’ Morag says, and picks a amall rectangle of white cardboard from the round kitchen table.

Aggie takes it, scans it, raises an eyebrow. ‘It’s one of Valentine’s,’ she says. ‘I’ve written all the numbers down he’s ever called the house with, and they all have one of three prefixes, and this is one of those.’

‘I’m sorry if I did wrong,’ Morag says.

‘It’s not your fault, Mum,’ Lilibet says. ‘We tend to trust uniforms in this family. We’ve just got a very bad man playing a very bad game.’

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