The following is a humorous excerpt from The Author. The white jeans and the mud are anecdotal. I decided I’d give Tess my embarrassing moment but make it a touch more embarrassing for her by its not going unnoticed. Both she and I were a spectacle in the petrol station after the event!
(The title is grammatically incorrect, purposely. In the UK anyone who has a cleaner will often say, ‘I have a little woman what does.’)
Dawn Hills were fresh and washed clean by the morning’s showers as Tess walked the dogs on the Friday lunchtime. The sun had come out making sparkling diamonds of the raindrops dripping from the leaves, and being July, it was hot, vapour rising from the ground like a steam press as it dried. She was wearing white jeans and T shirt; she did wonder if it was a reckless choice of colour for dog walking, splashes might speckle the jeans, but it was summer and she felt the need to lighten her mood after the grey skies of the morning, and the thoughts of Kacey and Billy together still pulling her down.
As she walked the threads of her mind were knotted together like a badly knitted scarf. They were irrational she knew; she couldn’t have Billy for herself so why begrudge Kacey? Goodness knew the woman had had a tough enough life bringing up two children alone, surely she deserved a little happiness. But hang on a minute she chided herself, you’ve got them down the aisle and married, and it wasn’t as though Billy had asked Kacey out. She’d offered to do him a favour in return for dinner. As far as she knew that’s all it was to Billy. Anyway it was none of her business; there was nothing she could do about it so she must put it out of her mind.
The dogs taking off after a squirrel, which scampered with effortless agility up the trunk of a horse chestnut tree distracted her and she took in the beauty of her surroundings. Branches of trees linked arms across the path forming a green, leafy archway and birds flitted to and fro, some still feeding hungry chicks. As she circled down through the woodland and back to the car she felt invigorated with the exercise, gave the dogs their drink then locked them in the car whilst she went to feed the ducks.
The lake was only a few metres in front of the car park with benches dotted around it so that people could sit and enjoy the view. Two women sat together chatting as Tess walked past holding her bag of bread. The grass slope leading down to the lake was slippery after the rain and liberally spotted with duck doo – or more aptly, goose doo – and Tess trod carefully, trying to avoid stepping in any in her white ballet pumps. She raised her eyes momentarily to see a pair of swans gliding towards her with their brood of fluffy cygnets, and in that second, her feet shot from under her and she slid gracefully down to the lake on her bottom, through all the mud and duck doo. She went sailing past startled ducks, bemused at this creature in their midst traversing the mud, clutching desperately onto what they knew was their food.
As soon as her feet found purchase, she scrambled to them hastily with as much dignity as she could muster, not daring to even cast a furtive look at the two women on the bench, who must surely be in fits of hysterical laughter at her spectacle. She broke the bread for the ducks as though nothing was amiss and it was perfectly normal to do such a thing in pure white jeans caked in mud to the knees and across the backside, and white ballet pumps with their bows encrusted with it. As she broke the next piece of bread having eye contact with no-one save the birds, a soft male voice at her elbow said, “Are you all right? Can I be of assistance?”