Richard Pierce


Day 235

Sitting up again last night, I scribbled two pages that I planned to transcribe onto here this morning, but I’ve canned that. Where yesterday upbeatness came from, I don’t know. To add insult to injury yesterday evening, I was stung on my left wrist on on the right side of my forehead by some insect, and now my left arm is swollen and my forehead looks like I’m about to mutate into something not far off the Elephant Man. Let’s not talk about antihistamine tablets – I have some 180mg tabs in the house that I’m reluctant to waste (I have 10 left from last summer, and they’re prescription drugs), and I can’t take over the counter antihistamines because they do odd things to me. So I’m grinning (not so much) and bearing it (sort of). And my back is rigid.

There’s not much to say into this grey morning except to wonder why we all have crosses to bear. The novel I’m reading right now (about Colombia) is remorseless violence and hopelessness. Perhaps that puts my minor ailments (at least I hope they are) into context. As do the news bulletins this morning. And my annoyance last night at Liverpool losing has evaporated – it doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things, does it?

I made a note on Sunday night that when I ask questions on here, of myself or of those few misguided folk who read it, I’m not really looking for answers, because answers are there none, and life is an unending struggle against adversities large and small. That is bleak, I know, but that’s what it feels like to me. And past happinesses are just that – past. And the future – depends on how far into the future you want to look. Although, and this is perhaps the core of it, we can change individuals’ lives with acts of kindness, and individuals can change our lives with acts of unexpected kindness. And when M, who is worrying about me and my entire physical fabric right now, came into the office a few minutes ago and hugged me and ran her hands over all those parts of me that are hurting, that changed my life for that moment and made me feel treasured and safe. That’s what love is, then, the soothing of adversities.



‘Let’s go to bed,’ Aggie says.

‘Let’s not,’ Lilibet says. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘There’s something on your mind that you’re not talking about.’

‘How does someone I didn’t even know a week ago know me?’

Lilibet shrugs. ‘That’s how love works.’

Aggie turns, pulls the plastic wallet out of her coat, throws it onto the table. ‘Take it.’

‘What is it?’

‘Cassie’s instructions.’

‘I thought you said you didn’t find anything.’

‘I lied.’


‘I didn’t want them to know. Not yet.’

‘Don’t you trust them?’ Lilibet picks up the package.

‘Not totally. But not in a traitor way. Marit’s too much of a loose cannon, and Katharina, well, I think she’s too interested in things sometimes, for it just to be a mother’s interest, or a grandmother’s protective instinct.’

‘Maybe you’re just paranoid.’

‘Maybe I need to be,’ Aggie says.

Lilibet sighs. ‘There’s nothing I can say to that.’ She looks up and across at Aggie. ‘Does that mean you don’t trust me absolutely?’

‘I wouldn’t be sharing that stuff with you if I didn’t trust you absolutely,’ Aggie says. ‘Read it.’

Lilibet empties the contents onto the table. ‘Angela Jennings.’ She laughs. ‘I’ll start calling you Angie.’

‘That’s not funny.’

‘I think it is.’

‘I don’t really want to go.’

‘I can see that,’ Lilibet says. ‘Are you worried about me not being here when you get back?’

Aggie reaches across the table. ‘No. I just don’t want to be away from you.’

Lilibet puts her hand over Aggie’s. ‘And I don’t want you to be away. But … but if it means all this will be over sooner, then it’s a good thing, isn’t it?’

‘Where do you get your certainties from?’ Aggie says, not moving her hand, enjoying the touch, revelling in seeing her rwal proportions, because Lilibet’s hand covers hers entirely.

Lilibet shrugs. ‘I don’t know. They’re just there. I don’t really think about it.’

‘You’re strange.’

‘Not really. There was never really any point in doubting myself or asking myself why certain things were happening to me. They just are.’

‘And when he left you?’ Aggie says.

That shrug again. ‘Just that. Glad to be rid of him, really. It had started to feel like living a lie, and fancying the same women he fancied, and not being able to do anything about it. At least in the army I got told what to do, what to think, how to be.’

‘And that’s better than thinking for yourself, is it?’

‘It was a welcome distraction then. I don’t need that anymore.’

‘Hm.’ Aggie can’t take her eyes off their hands on the table. ‘I’ll try not to be gone for a long time.’

‘However long it takes,’ Lilibet says. ‘And you might find out if those memories are real.’

It’s Aggie’s turn to shrug. ‘Maybe.’

‘I’ll drive you down to Heathrow,’ Lilibet says. ‘You don’t want to be using the train.’

‘I was going to ask you. Thank you.’

‘You’re very welcome.’ Lilibet squeezes Aggie’s hand. ‘And now it is time for bed.’

‘And the washing up?’

‘I’ll let them be house women tomorrow while I drive you. Come on.’ Lilibet gets up, and leads Aggie out of the kitchen and all the way to her garret room, and closes the door quietly behind them.


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