Tar

They’re re-surfacing our road. We’d received a letter promising that they would and instructing us to move our cars. Some have some haven’t. Isn’t it always the way? Will they tarmac around them? I love the smell. It is so heady, so industrial, but archaic too. A smell of blackness. The men doing it look like coalmen, they are made so dirty with it. It looks brand new, a black treacle newness. And the machinery looks archaic too. One has great jaws that open up to receive the un-melted tar. Once yellow they now are all thick with grime. They were delivered this morning, spot on eight, in a brand new white transporter. I feel important. It’s nice to have the Council’s attention. He worries that we will lose our space. Maybe we will. Perhaps that won’t be a bad thing. We can park nearer.

A challenging weekend. A mix of extremes. Great joy and discomfort. I’m never sure she will come. I text and she doesn’t reply. I sip my peppermint tea and try to relax. And then there she is. There they are. My loves. My darling girls. She spreads a blanket and the three of us sit on the decking. She has filled out. She is fat with life. A beauty. So serene. As is her mother. So much has changed. I begin questioning, feeding conversation but then she takes over. She is relaxed now. I touch and touch. Cool white skin. And what blue eyes, she stares into me. I fantasise that she knows me. Knows my blood that is her blood. I love them. My loves. My darling loves. Thank you for such joy. Two hours of being at peace with myself. This is OK. All is forgotten. All is forgiven. And this is the gift.

Then the next day and he is wobbling. How to support him? I try every trick. He sinks and I feel for him. But he does it. He does it. He goes through the gruelling small talk. Tries to eat. I don’t want to be there either. I feel trapped by it. And I can’t do the talk. A gentle Japanese lady who I keep calling Halloumi. It is wrong, I know it, but tiredness and stress make me careless. We do our best, he and I. But we are ducks out of water. Clumsy and woebegone and wanting home. She looked so ripe, so happy walking down the aisle. My friend’s stunning daughter. She sits next to me after. Claims me as family. I am touched. I love them all. The girl, the mother and the mother’s mother. She was so vulnerable, so tiny, hesitant now in her nearly ninety years. We left. Did I hurt her? She is accepting. Much more than I. I have to make it OK for him and for me. There were pleasant bits. Sitting in the sun, giving love, talking to him. An opening, a sharing. Was he sincere? I think so. Other people’s lives. The leaning church, falling back into the earth. Having tea on that hotel verandah, and he getting a bit better. And the B&B. She was a delight, taking such care of us. Those little details. The fresh fruit salad, the home-made jam and the cake. You must have tea and cake. And they off to see ‘Oliver’. And the next night a barbecue. And he stewarding in the morning for the Liskeard show. You’ve got to have a life, she says. And the walk in the morning, the mist and the smell of sun-dried hay. And the bird song. And the stars. What stars. See even in the misery of his fear, there is such joy.

Back home and walking this morning. Lots of people about even at 3.00 am. Two girls shouting at another as she walks past. Was it hostile? Looking good, girl, one shouts. And the couple sitting in the giant deckchair on the Prom near the ‘ship’, giggling taking photos of each other.

They sent an email. I bought lavender from them a couple of years ago. A cottage industry. We’re shutting for the summer, it announced, Jackie in our packing department is on crutches. Order now.

And that glorious sleep in the afternoon before work. Waking from a dream where I thought he’d asked me a crossword clue. What is the word for kicking a stranger? I thought he’d asked me. I woke saying, I don’t know darling. He laughed. It was so good to hear it.