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Thread: "Carrying On"/New, no naughty bits.

  1. #11

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    Re: "Carrying On"/New, no naughty bits.

    20
    No customers in search of a waitress. Mary walked the two of them to the car and Michael appeared for a hug. Mary smiled said to Ahmra, “don’t get him going. I have bingo this evening”. Mary hugged Charlie, told him he would be welcome anytime. And before Ahmra started the vehicle her phone needed answering; she looked at the number and mouthed “Abby”.
    Conversation heard by Charlie started with a hello, silence while Abby was talking, then, “right, doesn’t sound like a problem but our take-off is scheduled for 10.45, flight usually an hour and twenty minutes and more than an hour’s drive to the Church….are you okay, you sound out of breath”. There were a few minutes of silence before Ahmra said, “Croydon, should reach Croydon a little after one, sorry(?), oh, yes he is fine”. She handed her phone Charlie, saying, “say hello to Abby”.
    Charlie held the phone to his ear, eyes on Ahmra, said, “hello Abby” and saw a change of expression on the face of Ahmra; his free right hand lifted as if to say, “no wait”; the moment, whatever it was was swept aside while he listened to Abby apologizing for what she saw as her neglecting him: Ahmra stepped out of the car.
    Abby said, “I must tell you that Des will not be at the memorial service, it completely slipped my mind that he is away for the weekend and this being Friday they are making an early start, will try to be out of the more urban areas before rush hour, so, ehm, scattering the ashes will be up to the two of us unless you would sooner be by yourself”. Charlie said, “no, I would like you to be there, most especially because you really were her friend”. Abby said she was pleased, finished the call by saying, “remind Ahmra that I will be waiting for her call from Croydon, you might add that if she cannot reach me she should drop you off at the church.
    21
    The young woman who had delivered the car to Ahmra was waiting for them outside the terminal, took over the driving and dropped them at the Challenger. Both pilots were pleased to see them, said they had flight planned and ready to fly. Ahmed had flown the first leg to Iceland, Abdul had made the perfect landing at Dublin, Ahmed said that he was up to the challenge.
    Taxiing and take-off used ten minutes and they were away; the thinking had been a 12.05 landing, London and now they were adjusting eta to 11:45. Altitude was near, Ahmra had served coffee to Abdul, sitting in the right hand seat, and to herself and Charlie; spoke to Charlie.
    “Charlie, I have the feeling that your feelings about Abby might be a little more than you are ready to admit to”. Charlie shook his head and Ahmra continued, “Abby is very, very English, meaning that her marriage is something she will protect regardless of feelings, Charlie I do not think she will let go of what she sees as her life, her obligations, her need”. Charlie said that he understood that, saw Abby as a very good friend, enjoyed her company and expected nothing more, added, “I expect to spend a few weeks here, would hope that Abby might have time for the occasional lunch but that is all, I will probably rent a car, perhaps return to Ireland”. Ahmra said, “perhaps you could invite your lady friend who is a neighbour”…..and Charlie had a look which said he hadn’t thought of that; it did make him re-think.
    Ahmra continued, “Canadian servicemen, how often do you fella’s spend two or more years away from home(?), and, before you answer, my guess is that since the end of the second world war your chaps are never, ever more than a few months away from the woman you love; English woman are held up as martyrs for doing without their men for periods up to five years, even during peacetime and any wife caught cheating is shunned, sometimes even by family; Abby might want to cheat, but she is not leaving her home, an Englishman’s castle it may be but it is the very essence of her”. Charlie nodded, said, “yes” while looking through a window, completely lost in thought.

  2. #12

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    Re: "Carrying On"/New, no naughty bits.

    22
    Twenty minutes into the flight Charlie was offered a re-heat which he gladly accepted. Ahmra re-heated both coffees before taking the seat which faced Charlie, said. “There is no need for me to tell you that Abby, perhaps angry but definitely fragile. I think she has known for some time, we have run into each other a few times, I have seen the look of her when she is brooding but the minute she notices me she shows a face completely free of care, it must be gnawing at her. There are women who would simply waltz into an affair, others would seek a legal opinion, I doubt Abby would do either.
    Charlie said, “one thing I am sure of is that Abby has been hurt enough, Des needs a trip to the woodshed but that would not please Abby”, he sighed, rubbed his face, added, “the lady is very attractive, perhaps best all the way around if I scatter the ashes by myself, I can rent a car for the weekend, perhaps arrange a flight home either Sunday or Monday”. Ahmra agreed that his proposal would be the right way to go.
    The landing at London City Airport was not up to anyones standards, Abdul laughed all the way to the hanger, said, “we need the under-carriage looked at, my man you were trying too hard, I think the gold is mine”.
    Ahmra was told that her tank had been topped up and a service was done, the minute after the bump down, Charlie and Ahmra were on their way to Croydon. Nearing her flat she handed the phone to Charlie and gave him the number to be called. No answer. Ahmra said, “we are early, will try again from my flat, I have a couple of things for a neighbour. One half hour later, Ahmra said, “I need the address of the Methodist Church, will follow the sat/nav”. Within a half hour, Charlie was being hugged by Abby, Abby also hugging Ahmra before she took Charlie, saying to Ahmra, “I need to make some introductions, the minister says he will spend no more than a few minutes on Claire, he did know her; tea, coffee, cake and ice cream will be served and Charlie and I should arrive at Fleet by six”. Ahmra indicated she wanted another hug and whispered, “will you be home this evening” ? Abby whispered, “yes, unless invited to spend the night”, smiled, Ahmra quietly said, “be careful, I’m told the the heart is a terrible thing to lose”. Abby, a small shrug, said, “mine already lost”.
    23
    Charlie was introduced to the Minister, a brief handshake and, from the Minister, “ah, yes, Charlie”, before he took one of Abby’s hands into both of his, said, “you have a couple of minutes, must look over my notes”. Moving toward a couple, Charlie whispered, “the Minister is in his thirties, did he “know” Claire” ? Abby stopped, took Charlie to an empty pew, glared, said, “don’t do that Charlie, not to Claire, to yourself or to me she was my friend and I hers”; Abby took a small handkerchief from her purse and squeezed it, stood, added, “one couple to meet”. Charlie met Adele and George, George, middle fifties was quite visibly upset. Adele hugged Charlie and in a low voice said, “she loved you, Charlie, a lot”.
    The service was over very quickly, outside there were hands to be shaken and Ahmra was waiting to have a few words with Abby. Ahmra tried to steer Abby away for a quiet word but Abby said, “no, Charlie can hear what I have to say and I do appreciate you concern, Ahmra, but, not to worry, I too have ashes to disperse but I will make it home”. Ahmra hugged both of them, said to Abby, “I have Monday, Tuesday off, lunch, please”, Abby nodded, said, “Tuesday, my house”.
    Ahmra reminded Charlie of what was in the boot of her car and all was transferred to Abby’s, this done Abby and Charlie were ready to go, Abby said, “petrol, usually much dearer on the coast”. No talking for half an hour and Abby broke the silence saying, “there is one of those places where the Lorrie drivers eat, I stopped there last week and it is awful, we will go off road and find a tea room”. They did that, not quite Mary and Michaels but did have a cozy warm feel to it, seated and served Abby said, “I lied to Ahmra, I made up two of the bedrooms and if you agree I will be spending the night, I have ashes to dump, either before or after what we will do together with Claire’s. Charlie nodded, said, “fine with me” and Abby told him that there would be a full moon and a high tide at midnight”. Charlie agreed that midnight would be a good time before suggesting he would have no problem if Abby needed a drink, Abby smiled looked at him, said, “the only time I ever drink is after dinner when Des is home”.

  3. #13

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    Re: "Carrying On"/New, no naughty bits.

    24
    Shortly after 6PM the cottage came into view and Abby said, “you do know that many of this type of cottage is named, yours isn’t, might be fun to choose one and I will have a plaque made, unless, of course, you would prefer it to be nameless”. Charlie said that he wasn’t sure he would keep it. Abby replied, “oh, I just assumed you liked this part of the country, you haven’t been overly keen to have it rented, it would be a good earner for you and, as for selling, I have a relative who is an Estate Agent and he would advise keeping it for one more year, the feeling in the business is that Dorset, within a year, will become almost as pricey as Cornwall”.
    When the car was parked Abby released the boot lock, said, I will open a few windows while you are unpacking, the small suitcase is mine and I imagined that the front room would be your choice”. Charlie said, “choice of room is yours, front room will give you a spectacular view with a full moon, unless there are clouds”. Abby said, “you are much too generous, I will take the back room, after all this is your home away from home.
    Upstairs both bedroom doors were open and Charlie visited the back room, presented that which he had brought from home and left her to unravel. He was back in the front room for less than a minute when Abby entered, said, “how did you know my size, perfect jeans”, then, smiling added, “have you been checking out my bottom”(?) and at this Charlie blushed, stuttered, “nonono, I asked Jean what size would she take and you are, have, similar shapes”. Abby laughed, asked, “is checking bottoms how you judge women(?), hesitated before adding, “Charlie I am joking, please, I’m sorry I made you blush”…..Charlie said, “nonono, it’s fine, honest. Abby took one of his hands, seriously said, “Charlie there are many English women who would find your reaction quite endearing”.
    25
    Charlie was about to respond when Abby held up a hand, said, “I need to change, when I am dressed I would like for us to sit at the kitchen table, I have a suggestion for tea, meaning our evening meal”. Charlie said that he would not change, added, “you knew what I was going to ask”. Abby smiled, “perhaps, then again maybe not, I need to take a quick shower before I change, and by the way I like your shower, was that suggested by Claire” ? Charlie nodded a yes.
    Very few minutes passed before Abby, wearing a robe, called to Charlie, “on my way for a five minute shower”, Charlie replied, “when finished leave the water running, I do need cleaning, and I will change into jeans”.
    It was nearly seven PM when they sat across from each other at the kitchen table, Charlie had poured two teas, said, “what are you planning for TEA(?)”. Abby said, “I bought two steaks and I understand that Canadians like to bar-b-cue”. Charlie said, “oh, I am, I mean, I do enjoy steak but not fussy about bar-b-cueing, and it depends on the cut”.
    Abby went into some detail, “I did a little reading and actually talked to Annie and she said, “Black Angus, popular in Southern Ontario”. She also advised, seems she has been to England, that I find a Scotch, it’s what she said, she didn’t say Scots or Scottish, Beef butcher. I found one and visited, the man was proud of being an Aberdonian and when I asked about steak he mentioned, “The King of Steaks” said it was Porterhouse and I bought two, Des would have a fit if he knew the cost”.
    Charlie was grinning, said, “we have to find a grocery shop, I will do the cooking, one steak will be enough for two and I am thinking that you would like a salad, I can do that, a few chips on the side and you will receive the tenderloin.
    Abby stood, said, “let’s go, I think there is a Sainsbury’s not too far” and Charlie said, “almost sure there is a Tesco closer, let me take one of the steaks from the freezer”.

  4. #14

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    26
    Shopping, Charlie was given free rein but he did consult Abby as to salad dressing, said, my choice for you would be French, Abby said, “oo la la, that sounds fine, I’m going to add a bottle of Schweppes, the tonic water, I tasted a little of the cranberry juice, quite surprising how different it is from the cranberry drink, quite sure it will mix well with the Schweppes”, Charlie nodded his approval.
    Both were finished and walking towards a cashier when Charlie asked about a dessert, Abby said, “lemon, also strawberry cheesecake in freezer”, smiled when a smiling Charlie gave a thumbs up.
    During the drive to the cottage, Charlie asked about the Scots Butcher and Abby said, “went to Arundel, stayed overnight with a friend who had worked in the office”. Charlie asked, “Adele”(?) and Abby nodded.
    When the groceries were brought into the cottage, Charlie said, “about forty-five minutes, salad perhaps ten minutes earlier”. Abby said, “I leave you to it, will visit your next door neighbour; can you handle a rowing boat” ? Charlie, said, “if need be, are we scattering ashes in the middle of the Channel” ? Abby replied, “just a little away from the shore, only the ones I need to scatter” and with that she turned and Charlie said, “jeans are a nice fit”; Abby stopped, turned, hand on hip, said, “thank you, now try and keep your mind on the cooking”…….Charlie did not know how to take that.
    Charlie got busy, defrosting the steak took two minutes on each side. Salad, one bowl, two leaves of lettuce as a base, green only, white stem cut away, various ingredients with shredded lettuce covering, dressing off to one side and set for Abby who would return in twenty minutes.
    27
    Abby returned, saw her salad had been prepared, a crusty bun on a small plate, half a glassful of tonic water with one ice cube and a small glass of cranberry juice to one side; she sniffed and said, “looks delicious, an aroma of vinegar, I thought that vinegar caused lettuce to go black”. Charlie said, “lettuce not soaked in vinegar, two leaves for the base and before adding anything else, a small squirt across the bowl, your steak will be ready in five or so minutes, I’ll explain the onions when I serve”. Abby said, “surely you don’t expect me to eat alone” and Charlie said, “no way, I decided you would prefer medium instead of medium rare, mine needs to be well done”. Abby ate her salad and made comments as to what she was finding, said, tiny pieces of scallions, diced tomato, celery, sweet green pepper, oh my, has to be the thinest slices of radish I have ever seen”, then she laughed, added, “French, very good choice”.
    Charlie returned to the stove, saying, ‘no chips, ran out of burners”….he turned her piece of steak, stirred whatever was in two small frying pans then poured something which he had lifted from a deep pot into a brown paper bag, added a touch of salt and shook the paper bag, said, “I have warmed your plate”. Her plate in place he delivered her steak and she immediately said, “thats the tenderloin, we must share, please. Charlie said, “your medium, mine well done, please”. He then emptied the paper bag onto her plate, three onion rings and Abby laughed, said, “you made a batter, someone must have told you I loved onion rings”. Charlie said, “steak fried with onions and extra onions in a frying pan, also fried mushrooms”. Abby said, “God, no, this is perfect, get your own, please”.
    Dinner was a complete success and each put on a coat, Charlie had coffee and Abby had her tonic water with cranberry juice; two beach chairs on the front lawn, a sky with a rising moon and stars aplenty. Charlie allowed that he was glad he made the trip; Abby said, “good”, thought, “so am I” but knew that soon she would be returning to Des and Horsham.

  5. #15

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    Re: "Carrying On"/New, no naughty bits.

    28
    Charlie had taken his time with the coffee, the last two sips cold. He thought of more and decided he was too comfortable to move, wondered how long the silence had lasted. Minutes passed, he noticed Abby take a sip from her glass, said, “is this what we would call a comfortable silence” ? He felt rewarded when he saw her smile, heard her say, “I think it is, Charlie, I do feel comfortable and why not, a wonderful meal, a beautiful night and you are easy to get along with”. Charlie nodded, their eyes met and he said, “as are you, I mean” and before he could add anything, Abby said, “I do believe we are comfortable with each other, our platonic friendship has happened very quickly”. Charlie looked towards the sea, knew what Abby was saying, felt a line had been drawn.
    The silence returned, broken by Abby when Charlie sat a little higher on his beach chair, Abby remarked, “you noticed the salt air, Charlie” and he said “yes, not nearly as noticeable on the other side of the Atlantic”. Abby said, “when I was much younger, we were having dinner with the grandparents when we visited Boscombe, their home, my Mum said, “doesn’t seem to be as salty as I remember when growing up”; Grandfather said, “too many folk driving cars”.
    Charlie thought the grandfather might have had a point, checked his watch and announced, “after eleven, still no clouds and the moon pretty much full; are we sprinkling Claire on the lagoon side” ? Abby said , “no, she told me that the lagoon would bore her” suddenly stopped, her eyes filled with tears, continued, “sorry Charlie, just catching up with me, you take the urn and I will get my cardboard boxes from the boot”.
    They had a ten minute walk to where the boat was, on their way Charlie said, “are you going to tell me who you are carrying” ? Abby said, “bedding and not your business”.
    29
    Charlie said he would mind his own business, added, “ does make a fella wonder, but, as you say, not my business….is the lagoon my business” ? Abby stopped, said, “meaning what” ? “You said we are to borrow the neighbour’s rowboat and that it is on the other side of the lagoon, actually on Chesil Beach, and by the way, could we have used your car(?) seems to me there is a road and a bridge where the lagoon is quite narrow”.
    Abby “supposed so”, continued, “we are to meet up with your neighbour’s son and his wife, there is a skiff, room for four which we will use to cross that part of the lagoon, the rowboat will require four of us to get it to the water, “Minnie” says that when we return, you attach the grappling hook to the upper part of the beach and we are to wrestle the boat a little above the waterline….oh, we are also warned not to fall out of the boat, lots of strange currents three or four feet below the surface”. They heard “hello’s and were pleased that the moon was bright enough to see the younger couple. Fifteen minutes later, Charlie was rowing, Abby was sitting at the small tiller when she said, “I need to be past the point when I drop my cardboard boxes into the water”. Charlie surmised they would float but Abby said, “holes in cardboard, they will fill with water and by the time the tide takes them out to sea they will have fallen apart”.
    The evening was quite cool but by the time Abby was satisfied they were far enough away from land, Charlie had worked up a good sweat. During the return towards land, Charlie said, “I saw the photograph on the urn, Claire told me where it was taken, she struggled to get into the swimsuit, it was a good time for her and I. Abby said, “she was middle thirties when it was taken, gained a few pounds but still the men looked and she would whisper, “men are such lustful creatures, are they not”; sometimes loud enough for the looker to hear”.
    Abby sprinkled ashes and the urn was empty when they ran aground.

  6. #16

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    30
    Abby did not think they could manage the boat to above the water line, said, “tide receding, boat should be fine”; Charlie had other ideas. Charlie took both oars, carried them to where the boat had been. Abby said, “I really don’t think” and Charlie said, “come”. He was standing behind the boat, told Abby to “lift from the port side aft corner and I will lift from where I am, we then walk until the aft is where the nose is now; we do four turns and she will be at her resting place” and that worked; Two of them were able to upend the boat and to slide the oars underneath. They used the skiff for the return trip, pulled that from the water and Abby said, “very good”, Charlie was staring out to sea, Abby hugged him, said, “you need to be indoors, Charlie, you will catch a chill”; They walked together, Abby with an arm around his waist, Charlie with an arm around her shoulders.
    Once they were inside the cottage, Abby said, “afters, it’s what we called dessert when I had to have school lunches, lemon or strawberry” ? Charlie said, “lemon and you will probably choose the strawberry; I should have a quick shower while you are getting our desserts”. Abby said, “wrong, Charlie, I decided to have the lemon also, perhaps we can eat the entire lemon and have the strawberry with tomorrow’s lunch, oh, by the way, up to you about a quick shower, Claire told me that when you, let’s say, broke a sweat, the aroma from your body was spicy”; she sniffed at his neck, added, “spicy it is, up to you but you do not need to shower on my account”.
    Abby had left the lemon cheesecake in the fridge, the strawberry in the freezer and the lemon was partially thawed, easy enough to cut into wedges. She served two large helping while Charlie did fresh coffee, Abby remarked that she did love the smell of percolating coffee. Each had eaten portions of their cheesecake when the coffee was ready and Charlie suggested the living room, saying, “beautiful moon for another 45 minutes or so, when I go to bed the moonlight will fill the side window, tonight almost bright enough to read by”.
    They talked, movies, singers, baseball being an extension of rounders then Abby asked if Charlie thought Madonna was the sex goddess of his day. That brought a chuckle and a definite NO. he said, “on TV definitely Cher, Madonna, I don’t know, maybe too obvious, Cher subtle, seemed to enjoy and almost trivialize her allure….it was much later when she lost whatever she had, I think it was the dress she wore for the Academy Awards”. They also talked of Claire and when they were ready to retire, Abby said, “Claire left instructions that I was to get some of her clothes, lots of her photographs and a few other things, please don’t go to bed as soon as we are upstairs”.
    31
    Charlie made to leave his seat, Abby said, “would you mind very much if we had, ehm, ah Charlie, look, I need to let you know why Claire returned to her husband, the reason isn’t anything like you think, and, ah, would you leave me for a few minutes, there’s a fireplace in your room and I think you should start the fire”. Charlie nodded, stood, said, “I did noticed that it was set, newspapers wrapped tightly, enough kindling and two small logs, but, no idea if it is usable, it hasn’t been used for years”. Abby said, “I had a man look at it, he thinks the chimney was cleaned when a mesh was installed to stop birds nesting, he did light a small fire and pronounced it ready”.
    Charlie lifted Abby’s chin and he saw the tear filled eyes, all he could do was nod agreement. As he was leaving, Abby said, “first time in my life that I understand when people say they need a drink, I’ll make more coffee”. Charlie said, “might be enough left for two”.
    Charlie lit the fire, used a BBQ lighter which sat on the small, half empty box of kindling, Moonlight still sticking half of the bay window, felt a slight chill and put on a robe, one that he kept in this cottage. He hunched down by the fireplace and used a poker, just a small lift of the logs before he picked up the bellows, quite small bellows which Claire had bought for decoration but he wondered if he and Claire had had a fire here; just couldn’t be sure, his head offered a touch of derision for his, apparent sentimentality.
    He did notice that one of the logs was burning, also that the rug had been pulled back from the fireplace and recalled doing that some time ago when a spark had landed on the rug. No clear picture entered his mind and he realized that he may have had company when he was on the booze. He re-joined Abby, a sip of coffee before he asked, “do you know if I had,(?) no, no, never mind”. Abby said, “I thought that drinkers who had black-outs recalled nothing of that time” and Charlie said, “nothing but fragments, a small burn on the rug and that is about it”.
    Abby said, “Adele, just remember that this was before Claire passed, was murdered, people who knew Claire knew you were drinking and Claire called Adele, asked her to check on you, she found you totally bluttered, if that’s the word, mostly on your bed in a very cold room, lit the fire, said she talked to Claire, sat in a chair in your bedroom and when the spark landed on the rug you got off the bed, she said that your language was terrible, also that you never noticed her when you pulled the rug away from the fireplace; added that she stayed until morning, nothing occurred and she was asked, not politely, to leave”.
    And now I need to talk of Claire”

  7. #17

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    32
    Abby’s eyes shifted from Charlie to a spot somewhere above his head. He saw her mouth draw her lips in, saw her trembling and said, “you don’t have to do this” and between sobs he heard, “I do, made a promise”.
    Charlie said, “Abby” and she hushed him, harshly, he saw resolve take over, Abby, one sip from the coffee mug she held in two hands issued a command, “Charlie, don’t interrupt, not another word, I will let you know when it is time”.
    Abby began, “this will not be a eulogy, perhaps more like a soliloquy but mostly a reminiscence and a promise fulfilled”. She then said, “Claire”, muttered damn and searched out a handkerchief before continuing.
    “She was almost eighteen, I interviewed her, one of ten young women looking for a job, I was the chief administration officer for a large legal firm. She was fourth or fifth in line and within minutes I knew she would be hired, I did not know she was pregnant, about to be married at a registrar’s office to a man sixteen years her senior….when I look back to that time I see a man she would, for the rest of her life be grateful for having met”.
    “Grammar School, a brilliant student, tutored and graduated early. St. Andrews was chosen by her family and an interview was arranged. She travelled by train. Sleepers all booked but met a man who had room in his compartment; it was the night of her initiation. They went the separate ways in Glasgow and two days later her interviewer was the man she was quite familiar with. She was accepted, scheduled to start first year in late August; almost two months later she was enrolled into a business college in Kent, a flat of her own, had been in touch with her St. Andrews interviewer; they met, the meeting included his wife; happenstance, serendipity, what is one person’s misfortune is sometimes another persons saviour; his wife, barely twenty-two, had miscarried and given the news that she could not have children.
    My interview with Claire was less than a year after the birth of her first child and this pregnancy, Claire, surprisingly, did not show until the seventh month and by that time she was adored by all of the bosses”. “This was to be her second and last child, same father but this time only as a donor; both children adopted by their Father and his wife”.
    33
    Both were silent, desserts finished or forgotten, Charlie said, “I know what you said but this is a lot to swallow, all I can think of is, “why”(?). Abby nodded, wiped her eyes, thought that Charlie looked like a little boy, lost, confused. Abby said, “Charlie I do understand but I have given this a lot of thinking, obligations to Claire are not going to be met but you will have a clearer picture of how she saw you, so, I WILL do something which Claire insisted on, she said to do this when the talking was getting too serious, so, I would like a glass of the mix I had with the steak, you get whatever you wish for yourself and I will see you upstairs”. Charlie said, “my room might be a little chilly” and Abby smiled, a real smile, said, “I will be well wrapped up in very warm clothing”.
    Charlie prepared a tray, coffee for himself, the mix for Abby, a small bowl of grapes and a small plate with a few carrot sticks, celery sticks with cheese and four chocolates. Abby, her room door closed had changed very quickly, had looked at the nightdress, whispered, “sorry Claire, a bit too obvious, you knew that, but, the dressing gown covers everything” and then she had to sit, relive her talk with Claire until she heard the knock on her door and Charlie saying, “are you decent”. She answered, “trying to be, Charlie, decently dressed, you can open the door. The only thing Charlie noticed was the puffiness of Abby’s face and he said, “I think enough is enough, you go to bed and I will see you in the morning”…..Abby, now showing an attempted smile said, “might have a few tears left, your ears are needed, and, you should recognize what I am wearing”, she stood, turned a full circle and Charlie said, “Parachute”, very quietly added, “come, my room, a snack”.
    Charlie had set two easy chairs at an end table, they will be face to face and their area will be moonlit, Abby nodded her approval and Charlie repeated, “Parachute, I was told you bought cashmere,, oh, one thing, did you receive anything to go with the robe” ? Abby coloured, said, “yes and under these conditions I did not think it appropriate”. Charlie said, “it would never have been seen, Claire loved the feel of it and, never mind”.

  8. #18

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    34
    Once they were seated, Charlie said, “the time of the robe was, what, a world I had never known before”, from wistful to all business happened in a flash, Charlie continued, “not a time for a moonlit bedroom, a sec while I turn on the overhead”. Abby said, “no, this is fine”. Charlie, turned the light on, may not have heard, replied, “for God’s sake, why not get to the excuses, oh, wait a minute, cashmere robes, more than one thousand Canadian, Claire was ecstatic, said that was the first time you defied Des, your husband”; Charlie saw that he had hit a nerve and smirked.
    Abby sucked in four or five deep breaths, stood, walked towards the door and turned on the overhead light, glared at Charlie, said, “hardly the first time but marriage is something you obviously have no real understanding of, don’t move”. She left the door open, slammed the door of her room, yelled, “don’t bloody-well move”; less than two minutes later she returned, stood in the doorway of Charlie’s room, did one pirouette, said, “wearing it”; turned the over head light off and reclaimed her seat.
    They stared at each other until Charlie said, “amazing, your show of courage, if that is what it is, the nightdress is visible below the hem of the robe, at the neck of the robe a sweater is seen, what are you thinking(?) I am completely lost, wonder if I am to be seduced or stabbed…..Abby grabbed his hands, a river of tears, sobbing, said, “Claire knew she was dying”; from Charlie came sounds of someone swallowing.
    Silence but for the sound of breathing, Charlie stood, withdrew his hands, turned the overhead light off and sat on the bench seat underneath the bay window. He looked at Abby, swallowed but no words came from him. Abby moved her chair back from the end table and Charlie said, “please, don’t get up, just tell me, tell me why I didn’t know”.
    Abby drank from her glass, said, “It, your not knowing had, was, it was what Claire thought would be easiest for you”, Charlie interrupted, “my God how, how could she pretend to love, and, God I’m lost, for crying out loud you, her friend, must have known how I felt, surely you could have said SOMETHING, ANYTHING, damn and damn, no F word, Christ I feel like a drink, sorry, the Lord’s name and all” he then stood, said, “tomorrow perhaps, I need air, a coffee, perhaps you should go to bed”. Abby said, “not yet, go have your walk and coffee, I am here to finish what is started”. Charlie used the F word, three times, “I don’t want to hear a bunch of bullshit” and Abby, said, “you won’t”.
    35
    Charlie, downstairs, a mug of coffee reheating in the microwave, forgotten, apple juice from the fridge. He walked, kept shaking the apple juice, kept thinking how crazy his affair with Claire had been, stopped walking, looked at the moon, said aloud, “wasn’t all bad, you know” saw the skiff a short way off.
    A voice from behind his back, “that’s not where you’ll find him”. He turned, saw a woman, tweedy, hard shoes, a staff instead of a walking stick, slouch hat, he said, “who” ? And the woman said, “God, he can’t be found looking outside of yourself, not in the sky or any buildings on earth, your the Canadian, married to the woman who was murdered, didn’t take you long to find a substitute, worse than the Stags during rutting season”.
    Charlie was taken aback, said, “you have no right” and the woman said, “no RIGHT” (?), what do you know about rights, damned foreigners have taken all of our rights but we English still have opinions, and a voice, moral decadence will finish all of us, the one waiting for you spent time with the trashy one you were married to, then there was the one who took care of your needs when you could barely stand”. She turned, walked a few steps away, turned, added, “disgusting, the lot of you” before taking her leave.
    Charlie drank the juice, recapped the plastic bottle before yelling in the direction taken by the woman, “You witch, you know nothing so I’ll fill you in, the murdered woman was NOT my wife, she was an adulteress, hope that makes your day”.
    He returned to the cottage, added thirty seconds to the microwave, yelled upstairs, “do you need anything from the kitchen”(?), heard, “I’d die for a fresh cuppa, I plugged the kettle in just before you arrived”. Charlie made a single mug of tea, added milk and a half spoonful of sugar.
    Joining Abby he noticed the change, said, “peignoir replaced by pyjamas, so, whatever Claire had in mind is off”. Abby said, “yes Charlie, I am a married woman” and Charlie said, “will Claire understand and accept that”. Abby thought about that before answering, “no, but I have to live with me”. Charlie said, “but your husband…..” And before he finished, Abby said, “don’t Charlie, has nothing to do with Des, has to do with me, I have no intention of leaving him or my home”.
    Charlie nodded, said, “before the, what(?) disclosure(s) tell me why you spent so much money on robes, I understand you bought one for yourself and one for Des”, Abby smiled, “said, yes, Des heard about Claire’s, finest, Turkish silk, dressing gown, one which looked like Terry towel and said we needed new ones but definitely NOT Terry towel, he said that Terry towel robes are common in all of the hotels which supply robes, so, “get us something coloured, something masculine for me and very soft for you, you deserve the best”. The part which Claire was not quite clear enough on is that the Cashmere, $1,100 Canadian, was bought for me. The day mine arrived I shopped for Des, army surplus had a navy blue robe with a Royal Marine crest, 12 pounds and he never once complained”. Charlie asked, “at that time was Des, you know” ? Abby said, “yes, the Mother of boy he was tutoring, now, no more about my husband”.

  9. #19

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    Re: "Carrying On"/New, no naughty bits.

    36
    Abby, slipped her tea, said. “I think I am cried out, forgive me if I am not. Claire had been hospitalized for tests, I visited and she seemed in good spirits, told me that x-rays in the morning would be the last, asked if I could pick her up around 11 AM. She also mentioned that her husband’s contract was up in three weeks, added a request, “I need to see the solicitors before he is home, have to make sure that if anything happens to either one of us, my children get half of every investment we have made, and there a couple of properties”.
    Abby listened and stared at her, said, “what is going on, first you tell me you are fine, a week or so you were talking of leaving him and committing, your very word, to Charlie”. Claire said, “yes, that” and then she started to cry. A nurse came into the room, asked her if everything was okay and she nodded. The nurse turned to me said, “you must be Abby” and when I said I was she looked at Claire said to her, “you need to change your mind, there is a good chance you will recover”. The nurse then addressed me, “she needs to accept treatment, says she would sooner die and that she will, talk to her”.
    Claire said, “my life, my decision” then she looked at me, said, “chemo and radiation, harsh, intrusive, complete loss of hair, I did the math, less than 20% for six months; he knows my history, a friend of his called me, he is coming home to kick me out and cancel the agreement about sharing, he can have his half but my children get mine; enough talk, mind made up; you should have Charlie but only until he dies”….and that is when she broke down, sobbed and cried and cursed God, finally, “I didn’t knows what love was until Charlie, and, don’t deny, you have strong feelings for him, Des does not deserve you and, although Charlie has denied, I know that if I was out of the picture, he would pursue you”.
    There was silence, Abby looked at Charlie shaking his head with his eyes closed, waited a full minute before saying, “ludicrous, but remember this was a very bad time for her….she was convinced that heaven was real, someplace where you and she would be young again, I do know that you and I have never had feelings that way about each other; seems to me that getting a leg over might have been at the back of your mind, Adele is not a convincing liar”.
    Charlie said, “so, did the legal eagles make sure the children got their share, are you and I finished or will we be friends, getting a leg over is a Brit expression, did you ever imagine, no, that would be inappropriate, to be honest I have entertained thoughts about you, but, c’est la vie, mind you you would look lovely bathed in moonlight”. Abby said, “hug Charlie then you and I can talk in the morning”.
    Charlie placed his left arm around her waist, his right arm circled her shoulders and his fingers stroked her neck, a little below her right ear, she felt his breath, his lips barely touching and she whispered, “I don’t think I’m ready for this Charlie” but when his lips met hers she made no protest.
    37
    Time passed, the moon much lower in the sky and further west, moonlight still lit areas above the bed. No words spoken, Charlie felt at ease, lAbby’s feelings were mixed. She warmed to the hand holding but wanted his arm around her, smiled when that happened. Charlie kissed her forehead and she whispered, “this is not right Charlie, I should get dressed and go”.
    Charlie eased himself up; Abby could see his face as he looked down on her, she put a hand on his cheek and he said, “please, we sleep, talk in the morning”.
    Abby awakened at 6:30 AM, tried to slide out of bed undetected but Charlie was awake. He touched her shoulder, said, “you cannot sneak away, not yet sun-up” and Abby said, “sun-up in a few minutes, the room I should be in will be filled with sunshine unless there are clouds”. Charlie tried to have a say but Abby sat up, placed fingers on his mouth, said, “this is wrong for me Charlie, this is not how it was supposed to be”. Charlie lifted her hand from his mouth, kissed the palm and said, “perhaps this is exactly what it should be”. Abby, with force said, “NO, I must get dressed”. Half-way to her room, Charlie said, “very well, but, you shower, dress and I will make breakfast”.
    7:15, Charlie with a slice of toast, Abby, accepting a slice of toast with raspberry jam, saying, “I told you I would not be hungry” when the cottage phone rang. Both were surprised and Charlie said, “who would at this time” ? Abby replied, “maybe Canada, oh God, surely not Des”. Charlie answered the phone and Abby was by his side, heard, “hello, yes, Ahmra(?) he listened, turned to Abby asked, “you have your mobile” ? Abby said, “yes, in the car, probably needs charging”. Charlie handed the phone to her. Five minutes, perhaps less, Abby finished the call, rejoined Charlie at the breakfast table, stood next to him and smiled, said, “I did not commit adultery, I have been divorced since Thursday”. She kissed Charlie, said, “while I am finishing my toast, you need to shower, you stink, Charlie” Charlie said, “five minutes” and Abby said, “And Shave”.
    the end
    I think
    maybe

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