Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 197

I wasn’t supposed to wake up until 07:30, but woke at 06:30 and felt wide awake, so I got up and had plenty of time to (sort of) prep my Radio Stradbroke show (lots of summer vibey stuff – note the expert language). Managed to do a photo dump onto Insta, too, of most of the cat pics I took in Agios Nikolaos – there are so many cats there, and the locals look after them and feed them, which is another reason to feel like the place is blessed. There’s even a cat church there – well, we called it the Cat Church because it has doors with cat reliefs on them, and there was an old guy there feeding about 8 cats when we happened on it.

The sun is out, which makes a change after such a grey week. It makes a huge difference. Being in the sun and its warmth, as T just wrote to me an hour ago, has a massively healing effect on body and mind; you just have to choose the right time to do it (noon is not a good time). My body loves the feeling of being suffused by warmth – it stops aching, stops creaking, stops feeling weak. It’s real.

M and I will later do that most romantic of things – go to a DIY shop to look at paving slabs. We need to get the back of the house straight so we can train the cats in using the new cat flap; they need to be able to get in and out of the house on their own, and not have to wait for their inefficient human servants to open the door into the garden for them. And I need to chase bookshelves builders, too.

To the left of this screen is my day job hardcopy in-tray. It needs sorting out as it’s irritating me and looks untidy. Not this weekend, though. I need to be serious about the life/work balance (and probably better written in that order, that phrase, actually).

This morning I thought I’d try an Americano rather than an espresso for my second coffee. Not a fan, I must admit. There’s just something about the volume and roundedness of flavour with an espresso I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

Not been this fragmentary in some time. Maybe it illustrates a sort of freedom from pressure for the first time since we got back from AN. And perhaps my continual referrals to AN are not just because it is a wonderful place, but because that was our first 2-week holiday in decades. And that’s why we need to do it every year. To find time, to find each other, to find ourselves.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 150

‘There will be more,’ Lilibet says, takes Aggie’s hand.

‘But none as sweet and unexpected.’ Aggie pulls Lilibet to her.

Lilibet puts her head on Aggie’s shoulder. ‘I’ve only known you for a day, and it feels like it’s been forever.’

‘It’s strange. I … I never thought something like this could exist or happen. I thought only bad things came suddenly, not good ones.’

‘Your life sounds cruel.’

Aggie shrugs. ‘It just is what it’s been. Or at least what the pictures in my head tell me it’s been.’

‘What makes you think they’re not real?’

‘Anna thinks the mentor as a man. I think it was a woman.’

‘Two different people?’

‘All the other memories are the same. Everything that happened.’

‘That doesn’t make sense.’

‘Exactly.’ Aggie speeds up. ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this place. Let’s get out of here quickly.’ She unlocks the main gate, locks it behind her. ‘Still no people here. It’s strange.’

‘I don’t understand it.’ Lilibet stumbles, and Aggie catches her.

‘What …?’

The earth shakes again. A deep rumble in the distance.

Aggie grabs Lilibet without another word, throws her over her shoulder, and runs. A few steps take her hundreds of metres from the gate. And still the earth shakes. Aggie carries on running, in increasingly ragged lines as the ground becomes even more uneven under her feet. Behind her, an explosion shatters what was the low murmur of the morning, and a cloud of black smoke rises over the museum site, smoke and fire. She drops to the ground behind a garden wall, covers Lilibet’s body with her own as debris begins to fall, and ash rains down on them. And then absolute silence, the silence of shock and destruction. The ground is solid again.

Aggie unwraps herself from Lilibet, the imprint of her lover’s body fresh on her.

‘He doesn’t care about the living, does he?’ Lilibet says, stands up, dusts herself down as well as she can.

‘Obviously not. He needs to be destroyed.’

‘You’d kill him?’

‘There are other ways of destroying what’s evil,’ Aggie says, her face set in grim lines that make her look old. ‘Death is too good a punishment for someone like Valentine.’

‘How will you find him?’

‘I haven’t worked that part out yet. We need to get back to York, and make it obvious we have Martin.’

‘He’ll know by now, won’t he?’

‘Then why this?’ Aggie nods back at the smoking site, sirens now fresh in the air, drowning out any other sounds.

‘A distraction?’

‘Shit.’ Aggie picks up her bag of things. ‘We need to get back to York as soon as possible. No time to go back to yours. Unless you want to stay here with your girls and your parents.’

Lilibet shakes her head. ‘I go where you go.’

‘You don’t have to. I’ll come back for you.’

‘I don’t want to sit here waiting, not knowing what’s happened to you. I can’t.’

‘And the girls?’

‘They’ll understand.’ Lilibet smiles, slowly and sadly. ‘I think they know already. Children know better than grown-ups. They still live with their hearts.’

‘Do you want another lift? It will be quicker.’

‘How could I resist?’ Lilibet jumps into Aggie’s arms, wraps her arms around her neck. ‘Take me away, my love, into the land of our dreams.’

Aggie kisses the top of her head. ‘For you, anything and everything.’ But inside her head, she’s crying for an inevitable loss.

 

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