Part 1.3

The recent days have passed by into gloomy obscurity, but today my spirits seem higher, despite suffering a little from a lack of wine.  I think about venturing out again to buy some, but don’t. 
I decide instead to clean the kitchen and to take a walk along the canal to my favourite bench, where I have a fine view of both the canal strollers and the yummy mummies with their children in the playground.   There I sit, basking in the tree-dappled sunshine and enjoying the almost bucolic scene.
It’s not much of a canal really, and the water is filthy, but it has character of sorts. Mysterious house boats line the banks, some deserted, some containing families or lone farts like me. I'd love to have a boat: I'd spend all my days navigating the canals around the South East. Perhaps I'll win the lottery this week; that of course assumes I do the lottery, which I don't. It saddens me to see the poor fools queuing week after week wasting their money on ridiculous odds. Having said that, in my case the odds are zero.
The kids in the park are very cute; apart from a noisy little brat called Bradley who has his hapless teenage mother wrapped around his nasty little finger, and has already pushed several other children out of his way. I wonder where the dad is … probably holed up at some pub, or fishing along the canal.  A little girl, about six years old, her dark hair in tight ponytails, clambers fearlessly on the climbing frame, away from the carnage below.  I watch with amusement as she ignores the pleas of her mother to be careful - so much like my Jojo at that age, a reckless tomboy scared of nothing.  The memory is painful, so I look away.  I miss the girls. It is so long since I left them that they are no longer girls, but women, perhaps even married with children.  The thought brings a lump to my throat.
Then I notice that she has arrived and is sitting on the bench diagonally opposite me, feeding the pigeons and reading what looks like Silas Marner, one of my favourites.  I’ve noticed her before: an attractive, kindly looking woman in her late fifties, neatly dressed with her shoulder length grey-blonde hair falling about her face.   She turns the page of her book and looks up suddenly, catching me staring.  Our eyes meet for an instant, sending a jolt through me, before I look away, hot with embarrassment.  For an awkward moment I’m unsure what to do next, but then get up hastily and leave.  Out of the corner of my eye I notice with some disappointment that she has returned to her book. I could kick myself for being such a coward.
I decide to take a walk along the canal to Camden lock and catch the bus back.  It’s a good few miles but my bad knee holds out.  Back at home, evening comes and I warm up leftovers for tea.  The sky is now overcast with heavy, dark clouds and soon rain drops start to beat against my window.  I wash up the few dishes and return to the table to read the newspaper. It looks like some thug footballer has been caught with his pants down again and the front page is full of furtive photographs and suggestive headlines.
I am interrupted by a plaintive mewing from outside my window, where a bedraggled ginger cat looks in, pawing at the glass.  Since I live on the fourth floor, this is a rather surprising turn of events. I open the window to let it in, but the cat retreats to the edge of the sill and stares at me intently.  I wait for a moment, the wind driving heavy rain into the room.
“Well, are you coming in?” I say, but the cat just looks at me.
“Suit yourself, but you’ve got two minutes before I close the window.”  I sit down again at the table and watch as the cat continues to eye me suspiciously, mewing at annoying intervals.  After two minutes it has still not moved, so I decide to put a saucer of milk on the floor next to the window to tempt it in.  I do so and return to the table.  The cat takes a tentative step forward, then leaps down onto the floor and begins to lap up the milk, pausing now and then to make sure I’ve not approached.  I don’t move, but watch as the soaked beast finishes the milk, preens itself for a minute, then leaps onto the sofa and lies down on my single faded cushion, purring gently.
“Make yourself at home, why don’t you?”  The cat twitches its ears and for a moment I fear it might run away, but then it lays his head down and closes its eyes.  I step quietly over to the window and close it.  The cat does not move.  I turn off the light and go to bed.
Next day I am awoken by meowing, and get up to find the cat at the front door.
“Do you want to go out?” I ask.  The cat just looks at me.  I don’t know why that should surprise me, and wonder why the hell I was even talking to it.  Senility has clearly crept up on me without my knowing.  I open the door and cat leaps off down the concrete stairwell, a flash of ginger against the drab, graffiti covered walls.
 “My pleasure, cat.”  I say before closing the door.

Tags: reflections of grace, book, biography, comedy, download, drama, family, fiction, friendship, love, novel, romance, story, book, novel