Lark's Guests 638w
638 words! It's not even half way to target, but it's 638 more than I wrote in October.
Half past nine, and the Midsummer party had fillled the first lawn. From the terrace, Martha watched with careful detachment as the villagers clustered in chatty groups, glasses of gold cider in their hands. Lark’s glasses, Lark’s green lawn underfoot, springy with yarrow and moss. Lark’s golden apple juice, pressed in Lark’s father’s beech press and bottled in Lark’s grandfather’s dimpled swing-top bottles. Lark’s sun. Lark’s party.
She frilled the edges of her notebook with h right hand as she watched. The good silver pen sat cool in her left hand, all of it in her lap, resting between ideas.
A villager held up the glass to the sun, tilted it and turned it in his hand. Weighing it casually, he turned to his neighbour and leaned in to mutter something.
“Yes,” Martha said softly, “he really did get the good glasses out for you. I know you would have done it in disposables.”
They nodded together.
Towards the hedge, where a local cat lay tabby in the narrow shade, wasps bobbed patiently around the bins. The sun had just reached them, and the black plastic was heating up quickly. Wreaths of feverfew and honeysuckle would hide the smell until long after noon, but the wasps knew.
One of the village children, having reached some kind of physical limit on the time they could spend behaving like a civilised human, suddenly whooped and tore off at a run across the lawn towards the kitchen garden. Martha grinned, and scanned the rest of the party to watch the other children break free of their tidy little family clusters and accelerate after her. The kitchen garden was beyond another hedge, and laid out in a knot of shingle paths that Lark denied were made for games of tag.
Something landed on her leg and she flinched before looking down. Pain from the flinch jolted through her hip. She leaned forwards over her own lap to contain it, breathing out slowly, focusing on her feet on the wheelchair’s foot rests. Whatever it was had flown away, leaving her with the dull burn in her thigh and side.
“Can I help?” Agnes asked.
Martha breathed out again louder, still hunched over her lap. She shook her head instead of looking up.
“Let me know,” Agnes said, the angle of her voice turning back towards her folders of nursing notes. Her pen resumed its track on the pre printed forms, and Martha heard the rhythmic scratch of a cheap rollerball and the secure handwriting of a seventy-year-old woman writing down facts.
She leaned sideways, experimenting with the pain. No, not ready to straighten up again. She slid the pen into her notebook and pushed them both to one side, into the pouch in the crease beside her seat pad. The moss on the terrace between her wheels slid out of focus and back in, crisper, the slide matched by a high pitched non-sound sweeping across her.
Martha waited it out, hating.
Eventually, the high note faded and the murmur of trees and guests came back to her. She straightened up, flexed her fingers and looked across at Agnes.
“Tell me it’s not fair.”
“Of course it’s not fair.” Agnes put down her cheap pen and settled her hands flat on the papers. “It’s viciously unfair. There’s nothing in life you could have done or left undone to deserve this.”
Martha nodded, and looked back to the party.
“Tell me it’ll be over soon?”
Agnes said nothing. Martha heard a rasp of rough skin as her hands shifted against each other.
“Tell me I can still… no, I don’t know.” She hit the chair’s arm rests with both hands, and then dropped her hands to the wheels. “Shall we go down and join the revelry?”
“Whenever you’re ready,” Agnes said neutrally.
“I’m not ready.”