Beginnings – a prequel microstory

‘So what’s your news?’ Vivian carefully put coffee down on Edge’s sidetable, and sat with a little ‘oof’ in the opposite chair.  ‘You sounded really excited on the phone.’

‘I am, a bit, I got a fantastic offer for the flat, so that’s it, done and dusted. Selling.’

‘But the flat was beautiful! I thought you loved it!’

Edge shook her head. ‘I rattle around in it, much too big for one. I write and eat and practically sleep in one room and the rest just gathers dust. And no garden, and that hellish couple with the screaming baby as neighbours, and I could never just up and go when I felt like it. I’ve got big plans for the future.’

‘You’re not leaving Scotland?’ Vivian looked alarmed and Edge snorted.

‘No, idiot. But I do want to travel a lot more than I have been. And I’m tired of living on my own.’

‘What, you’ve reconsidered and you’ll come share with me?’

‘God, no. I love you like a sister but share a house with you? Never. I can’t think of a way of ending a friendship faster. I decided I want a nice tiny place to myself, interesting neighbours, good security so I can lock up and go whenever I feel like it, and I still want to be near you and near Kirsty and to be able to put people up when they come to visit. And I’ve found it! Just the place. Have you ever heard of the Grasshopper Lawns retirement village?’

‘You’re too young to go into an old age home. Anyway, why on earth would you want to?’

‘It’s not an old age home. They’ve got totally independent apartments, a fabulous garden, and guest accommodation facilities, and they only take people with interesting pasts, I was interviewed by the bursar, the administrator and the smallest and most perfectly groomed woman I’ve ever seen, who used to be a Cold War spy. Patrick recommended the place. And Vivian, I want you to apply too, we can be neighbours.’

Vivian was already shaking her head. ‘Oh, no, Edge. I have to keep the house so the kids can come visit. And I don’t really like meeting lots of strangers, I like the quiet life, you know that.’

‘I do know that. And I don’t approve, and you know that. The kids visit, what, every other year? Vivian, how long have we been friends?’

‘Every time someone says that, it means they want something.’ Vivian sipped gloomily at her tea. ‘You know how long. Since we were eight.’

friends for beginnings

‘And in all that time, have I led you astray?’

Vivian started to laugh. ‘When have you not! You were the most terrible influence on me!’

‘Nonsense. I got you out of your music room and away from your endless scales, and you hauled me out of reading every play ever written, and the pair of us were very good for each other, we always have been. I have a feeling about Grasshopper Lawns, I think it could be a bit of an adventure, and I have to insist;’ she suddenly faltered, shook her head and sat back. ‘Wow. Flashback. I won’t insist. But I really, really want you to think about it. Come look at the place. Help me move in. Okay? And I’ll tell you what else they have, dogs, in the main house, and they’re divine, they’re Labradors. Any of the residents can take one for a walk whenever they like. In fact the bursar, Hamish, an absolute duck, said there’s such competition sometimes that residents adopt one and then the Lawns gets another from Labrador Rescue.’

Vivian weakened, as Edge knew she would. ‘Oh, I have missed having dogs around. But I don’t have an interesting past, I’d never get in. A Cold War spy, heavens!’

‘And a few writers, and a Russian ballerina, and a mercenary and an actress. Why not an opera singer? I told them about you and they want you to apply. And I want you to apply. And you know me, I always get my way in the end. I’m more stubborn than you are.’

Vivian sipped slowly at her tea while Edge watched her with bright eyes. Finally she said, ‘you really have one of your feelings about this place? That it would suit us?’ Edge nodded and she sighed. ‘Okay. Tell me more about the dogs.’