Autumn evenings have a rhythm I adore. Orange flames and dinners with gravy. A stack of new magazines on the coffee table and fairy lights twinkling in and out of the books on the bookcase.
Ste is in the kitchen washing the dishes and my Dad has just left after eating dinner with us. The dog is thoroughly absorbed by his bone and Finley is still wearing his school uniform because he is so delighted with the metal badge on it that declares him a member of his tiny school council and though he is about to send me around the bend doing it, he is slowly dribbling a rugby ball around the chairs in the dining room singing softly to himself apparently away with the fairies.
Life is so normal. And beautiful. The quiet buzz of absolute contentment vibrating in my bones contradicted by this ever present deep yearning for my Mum's hands. For her infuriating opinions. And her laugh. Most of all her laugh.
I have just got out of the bath. In the eveningtime now I wear what was once was an evening dress. Now fashioned in to my nightie. I wander around like Abigail about to attend her own party, a glass of lime and soda in my hand, ice tinkling and a laugh always on my lips. Ste is prone to sudden outbreaks of peculiar dancing. Anyone would laugh.
This is a very new relationship. So new and so familiar. That is beautiful all by itself isn't it? Evenings are currently dedicated to sitting on the sofa together, breathing in frankincense and lavender, candles twinkling and one cosy drama or another on the television. Normal-beautiful. A precious calm after the most turbulent of stormy years. Like coming home.
Soon he will take Alfie for a walk and I will talk Finley in to giving up every electronic device he owns for the evening so that he can fall asleep without the blue glare of a screen compromising his dreams. He is different now. Both more distant and more respectful. Suddenly quietly vain. But still so bloody loud!
Alfie will rush back in to the house smelling of the cold night and Ste and I will drink tea, watch Midwinter of the Spirit and argue over whether or not he will share the Snap and Share Kit Kat I bought him and he insists is his alone. Though quite what part of Snap and Share he is failing to understand I do not know. I will paint my nails, now grown after forty years of biting them, and he will light the fire and talk to the dog as if he was his best friend.
Normal-beautiful. Like coming home.