“How many trips do you think it will take?” Anna asks from the middle of a sea of boxes.
Scratching my head, I reply, “Several I would say, never knew you had so much crap.”
“Neither did I, didn’t seem as much when it was in its place but now. I think some of it will go to the charity shop. New beginnings and all.” She says ticking another thing off her list of to do’s. Smiling I feel so proud of her, out of us all Anna is the one who deserves to be happy.
“I think we deserve a coffee and some cake.” Anna grins from ear to ear at my suggestion; I leave instructions with Joel and August they were the only two who were available today to help. Joey and Pearse are trying to sort through the mountain of issues piling up at the site. I usually would avoid helping someone move, but this is a special case for two excellent reasons. Number 1 it’s Anna. Naturally, I’ll help her move and number 2 I need a break after the week I have spent on the phone to one supplier after another not to mention the tradesmen.
Picking up my car keys, I say, “Let’s Go.”
“How are things with you and Alice?” Anna asks as we sit down at an outside table overlooking the river.
“She’s still annoyed. I didn’t tell her about you and Mike.”
“Ah, want me to talk to her?”
“I don’t know if it’ll make any difference, but it can’t hurt.” Blowing on the foam of my caramel latte, I look out over the river, it is a pretty view. The old Victorian flax mill was converted into riverside apartments several years ago. Thankfully it’s a listed building and has been restored on the outside to its former glory. To the right of the mill, there is a very tasteful housing development of cottages. To the left lies the forest park which spans for miles upstream.
“You ok?” Anna asks as I continue to gaze across the water, nodding my head.
“Just enjoying the view.” Taking a sip from my coffee, my phone buzzes. Turning it over I see it is a message from Ryan, deleting it and blocking his number I flip the phone back over onto its face.
“Something happen?” Anna asks delicately eating a slice of Victoria sponge with a fork, such composure I would savage it like an animal.
“We parted ways.” My tone is flat and matter of fact, Anna picks up on this and inquires no further.
“One of the apartments in the old mill has just gone on the market, I’m thinking of putting a bid on it.” Anna comments after a short silence.
“Really, let me know when you book a viewing I’ve always been curious to know what they look like on the inside.” She smiles, I haven’t seen her this happy in a long time, it makes me oddly delighted too. “If you get it, you can have that figurine.” We both burst out laughing.
“Oli don’t let anyone influence the decisions you make. I know I’m not the best person to be handing out advice but do what makes you happy. Don’t live for others or try to please them do what is best for you.” That was somewhat out of the blue; this new Anna is more like the Anna I remember from before Mike.
“I hope you take your own advice. You can always count on us, Anna.” It’s the one good thing about family no matter how much we argue or disagree; we’re always there for each other when needed.
“We really should go for a walk in the forest before the summer is over.” She comments changing the subject.
“Rufus and Atticus would love that.” Anna looks a little apprehensive she isn’t much of a Doberman fan. Teasingly I say “They do love their Auntie Anna.” She flicks some of her cake at me; I return the favour. A middle-aged woman walking past the table looks at us and shakes her head, we giggle.
“I’ve missed this.” She says, leaning back in her chair and sighing.
“Me too. Another coffee?”
“I think tea this time, decaf or I’ll be up all night weeing.”
“Lightweight.” She sticks her tongue out at me. We order a decaf tea and an extra-large latte, I feel like living on the edge and two steak platters for Joel and August after I notice a sign behind the counter which says they do home delivery. They won’t have eaten anything more substantial than crisps and chocolate.
“Oh, that steak smells good.” Anna comments, it smells so good it’s making my mouth water. “Shall we?” She asks, nodding my head we order two more to sit in taking our seats we wait expectantly. Two sizzling platters of steak, thick-cut chips, mashed potato, onion, mushroom and pepper sauce are laid before us, thanking the waiter we look at each other smile and dig in. Just as I am vacuuming the last bite up my phone buzzes, it’s a short video from August and Joel of them eating the food we sent huge grins on their faces. A love you sis written below.
The sea of boxes has all but vanished by the time Anna and I return, sending them food was a good idea it’s motivated them to keep at it either that or they wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. “Great work, chaps.” Anna says, “Just gonna check upstairs see if I’ve left anything.”
“The grub was great Oli cheers, hit the spot.”
“Thought you could do with something substantial.”
“This the last one?” Joel asks as he lifts the final box from the living room, nodding my head I reply,
“Yup that’s the last one.”
“We’ll go on ahead and meet up at your place.” August says lifting his jacket off the sofa. “See ya later.”
“See ya.” Anna rejoins me; I notice a tear running down her cheek.
“That’s it nothing of mine left.”
“Do you want a few moments alone?”
“No, there is nothing left for me here.” She says flicking off the lights, locking the door she slips the keys in the letterbox. Walking down the drive, I hear her whisper. “Goodbye, house.”