How I didn’t get hurt was probably fate but I did land safely in a sodden patch of grass and was totally covered with orange, clay-like mud.
“Well” he asked. “I have never met such a coward in all my life. Does this mean you’re not going to go skiing with me?”
I looked at him. “Danny, when have I ever said I do things like this? I will do swimming, with you, running, gym but nothing to do with heights. If you don’t want to marry me now ..” I said half smiling.
He pulled me towards him. “If I go skiing there are plenty of things you could do, with or without me and I don’t do cold. I am just teasing you. Instead we can do water skiing ....”.
“No” I quickly replied “you can do water skiing and I think I’ll sit in the boat and feel sick. I don’t do things like that. I am a coward as you are discovering.”
“So” he said changing the subject. “Do we keep this a secret or do we tell the parents?”
“What do you think?” I asked “Do you know Daniel, I am still shaking. Coward or what”.
“Well then, let’s just keep it our secret for a while and then we’ll tell them. What do you think?”
“Yes” I said hugging him. “No more heights please. I hate them”.
“I had noticed” he said.
We carried on walking towards the village.
As I walked, and Daniel wheeled, I softly put my arm around his neck. “I will miss that” I thought sadly. Walking with his arms around me, lovingly, normally. “Never mind” I thought. “Better like this than not at all. At least we love each other”.
We walked closer to the house.
“I am going to go straight in the shower” I told him. I looked at him and he was staring at the house. “What is the matter now?” I asked.
“They are arriving, look”, he said pointing to a somewhat old Mercedes estate car. Out from the front seat was obviously Giles, shortish, plumpish and quite, well without being nasty, unendearing. Next two kids jumped out of the car along with a golden Labrador.
“Where is your sister?” I asked. “She’s there”, he answered.
Slowly Samara opened the car door and stood up. She looked about my height, tall but on a very narrow thin frame. As she stood up, I realised that her thin jacket was unbuttoned revealing the most enormous stretched stomach.
“Is she pregnant?” I asked “well I mean obviously she is. She is so thin with this enormous stomach”.
“Yes” he said wearily. “Unfortunately they can’t keep up with what they have and now she’s pregnant again”.
“Isn’t Giles working?” I asked.
“Oh yes he’s working alright but I don’t think either of them is very good with money. Last year she threatened to walk out of him and I was so relieved. I just thought “thank goodness” and then I don’t know what happened. She went back to him and became quickly pregnant”.
“Oh” I said. “Did she tell you why she wanted to leave”?
“They had no money etc etc, they both over spent. I told her to come and live with me for a while until she sorted herself out. I said that I would help her. I think she was relieved but then ... I don’t know”.
“Is that why you hate Giles?”
“Not really” he admitted. “He is not good enough for my sister. He is a patronising, sexist shit of a person and by the way, he always “comes on to my girlfriends”.
“Well quite honestly” I said slightly shocked “when you look at him and look at you, surely none of your girl friends would have wanted him????”
“What a great compliment you have just given me” he said smiling and kissing me lightly on the cheek. “I don’t know. Not really I suppose. He makes vile comments. You will see”.
“Does he do it in front of you?”
“And my sister. She just ignores him”.
“Well what did your girlfriends say?”
“A few just laughed nervously, Bella threw a glass or wine at him, but I don’t know. I don’t make a habit of bringing girls home you know?”
“Only special ones, not only ones you have proposed to?” I asked hopefully.
“Well it may interest you to know that YOU are the only girl I have proposed to. What do you think of that?”
“Well I am pleased. Honoured. Of course lots of men have proposed to me. Lots.”
“Of course” I said. “So many - NOT. That is why my mother had to arrange a blind date for me. What do you think? People were tripping over themselves to get to me.”
“Well I would happily trip up to get to you in fact; I would probably have to insist upon it”.
“Well that is you of course” I said cuddling him affectionately. “Let’s go in so that I can see Giles. Do you realise that if he doesn’t say something offensive to me I will be very, very insulted.”
“I won’t” he said as we walked towards the house.
By the time we walked through the door, I could feel the commotion as the Labrador and the children who were chasing him, rushed by.
“Uncle Dan, Uncle Dan” shouted the two kids running to him.
“Hello Princess” said Dan cuddling the girl. “Hello Marcus” he said shaking hands formerly with the little boy. “This is my friend Sara. This is Emily and Marcus”.
“Nice to meet you” I said smiling at the kids. “How old are you both?”
“I am seven” said the Emily “and I am also seven” said Marcus.
“Oh, you’re twins” I replied “I didn’t realise because you are a little smaller” I told Marcus. This of course was the understatement of the year. Marcus looked at least two years younger.
“I was born first” answered Emily “and then mummy got pregnant again straight away and Marcus was born much too early”.
“Yes” said Marcus. “I was in an incubator for lots of months and then they took me out and had to feed me very carefully. We are still in the same class at school though AND” he added “I’m a much better reader than Emily”.
“You are not” said Emily and she reached over and thumped him in the stomach and then it continued. He went to chase her and the dog followed.
Eve walked through the door. “Sara” she beckoned. “Excuse all of this. It is always like this when the children are here. Come and meet my Samara. I followed her and walked in the kitchen. Samara who close up looked more tired and washed out than seemed healthy considering she was supposed to be “blooming”.
“Hello” she said struggling to get up. “I’m Samara. Please call me Sammy”. She had a pretty face I thought nothing like Daniel or anyone else in the family that I could see. I liked her clothes too which were definitely not maternity sacks but her usual clothes just stretched to their extreme over her inflated balloon of a stomach.
Giles walked into the room. Closer up I found myself a little disappointed. He didn’t seem to be the pompous idiot that I had been promised.
“Nice to meet you Sarah” he said shaking my hand.
“It is Sara” I corrected “and very nice to meet you too”.
“Oh you spell it without the “h”” he said “yes I had an ex-girlfriend that did that but she still pronounced it Sarah. What do you do, I mean by the way of work?”
“I help run a cleaning company” I find myself telling him.
“You clean peoples’ houses?” he spluttered.
“No,” I said irritated. “I arrange for other people to clean other peoples’ houses. That is my job. I also arrange nannying and au pairs and on the odd occasions, maternity nurses if you are interested.”
“Oh” he said shaking his head. “We don’t need a maternity nurse. Sammy doesn’t work. She will get up to feed the baby. Last time of course we didn’t have that problem. Marcus was in the special unit for months. We didn’t have to do anything.”
“You almost seem pleased about that” Daniel added.
“What?” Giles said
“That Marcus was in the special unit and you didn’t have to hire a maternity nurse or get up for him in the middle of the night.”
Eve looked around from the sink and I said
“Eve, can I help you make tea for everyone and then would it be alright if I go for a quick shower. I fell in a large puddle of mud and I’m covered”.
“Of course” Eve said relieved at the change of subject. She glared at Dan. “Run up now and I’ll have a cup of tea waiting for you when you are finished. Why don’t you go too Dan. That tap is a bit temperamental. You may have to turn it for her as it is so stiff”.
Off we went upstairs.
We went upstairs with the usual procedure of Daniel hauling himself up the stairs. We got to the bedroom and clothes the door. I started to take off my clothes. He sat on the bed and opened up his arms for me to hug him.
“I love the feel of your body” he told me “even if I can only feel half”
I looked at him. “I know it is hard, especially around here. Why don’t we just sleep downstairs? The whole thing seems pointless coming up and down the stairs like that”.
“No” he said decidedly. “This is MY bedroom and I want us to sleep in it.”
“Fair enough” I replied “but why is the lift broken. They know you visit”.
“It is just her way of saying that I don’t visit enough. If I visit more often I am sure they will get it fixed”.
“Why don’t you send someone to fix it then?” I asked. I looked at him. “What is the matter? Is it Giles? He wasn’t that bad. A little pompous. He didn’t say much really, not yet anyway?”
“Not him” he sighed. “Me”.
“You? Have you changed your mind about us?” I asked not really believing it.
“No” he said stroking my hair “I’m just having a moment that’s all. |Go in the shower.”
“What “moment?”” I asked.
“I wanted to walk along the fields with my arm around you not NEXT to you. I would have helped you down that damned tree house. Not letting you jump and into mud. I would have stood in front of our house and held you in my arms and kissed you and told you I loved you.”
I paused for a moment trying to think how to react.
“I know baby and the truth is that I would have loved those things too I’m not going to lie to you but we still have each other. Better this than nothing and we have so much. We are so lucky. They introduced us. We even liked each other. We got on so well together immediately. We have sooooo much. This is new to you. Being in love and everything. We will just get used to it – PROMISE”.
I realised that he was crying a little. I could feel warm tears trickling down both of our cheeks as he hugged me. I kissed the rivulets of salty water away and told him I loved him more than anything in the whole entire world.
We sat for a while hugging and then suddenly he pulled away. “Come on” he said “let’s lighten the load and try and get this bloody shower to work”.
We walked into the bathroom which was clean, if not anything else. “Pull the chair away, I will try to turn on the shower and I will jump away and you shower” he said positively. He tried to twist the tap twice to no avail and then suddenly we were both covered in icy erratic spurts of water.
The shower didn’t actually get any warmer but I coped. “I’m Israeli I told him. I’m not a “whinging pom”. I’ll survive.”
“Do you know?” he told me with exasperation “that if this wasn’t my parents’ house I would check into a hotel.”
“Daniel” I said rubbing myself with an extremely old threadbare towel. “I would really like us to visit here more often but why don’t you just phone someone to fix the lift and get a plumber to come later. Look in the yellow pages. Apart from the fact that if we don’t shower we are going to stink, if there is a fire here, you can’t get out of here quickly”.
“I will” he agreed googling on his phone for an emergency plumber. “They are not going to like this though” he said dialling a number.
By the time we were downstairs sitting at the kitchen table again, a local plumber was knocking at the door. Daniel asked his father to deal with it and he did reluctantly.
“Well” said his mother as she served the Sunday lunch. It was in fact lunch even though it was served at four in the afternoon. “At least the shower is fixed. I didn’t realise it would only take a minute”.
“Tell her about the lift engineer” I told Daniel.
“Tomorrow” he said tentatively “I am going to get a lift engineer to come and fix the lift. I will get them to call you and make an appointment. I will sort out the money so you don’t need to worry.”
“I’m not worried” his mother snapped “I just haven’t got around to getting it fixed. Your father used it to take some furniture upstairs and it is stuck between floors with the drawers still in there. He had to climb out through the top”.
“What do you mean there is no lift?” Samara asked. “Mum, how can you expect Daniel to be comfortable? No wonder he hardly visits”.
“No, it’s okay really Sammy” he said hurriedly “it’s just a bit ..... Whatever.” Samara glared at her mother. “I know mum it’s very funny how unorganised and scatty you and dad is but this is serious”.
“Yes” added Giles. “You must accept that he isn’t going to suddenly jump out of his chair and walk, isn’t that right Daniel”.
Daniel glared at him. “Yes that’s right Giles. That is not going to happen but if it suddenly did ....”
“Anyway” I said changing the subject “at least it will be fixed because Danny said there is a music festival or something nearby in a couple of weeks. If it is alright, we might come back then?”
Eve seemed to relax a bit. “I would love that. It’s not that we don’t want him to use the lift. It is that I just didn’t get around to fixing it. What must you think of us”?
I saw Sammy and Daniel look at each other. The children ran in and sat at the table. Both of them were full of mud from playing in the garden and they sat straight down at the table. No one was telling them to wash their hands. They just started to eat.