Heavy rain sweeps over the overgrown back garden. Margaret, or Peg, as her husband Oliver calls her, is staring out of the kitchen window of the rambling Victorian house that has been the Cromwell family home for nearly fifty years. Gusting wind bends the silver birch and the black barked laurel hedge shudders in the growing storm. It’s not rain, Peg thinks, it’s the ocean, the cold Atlantic, as squalls of rain, thick as waves, pound the window panes. She imagines white horses breaking on the lawn. The once herbaceous borders, now populated by weeds, drown under the weight of rainwater. The leafless branches of trees wave frantically as if they are the masts of long lost galleons. Are there pirates to be saved, Peg wonders? I’m all at sea, she thinks, lost in memories of her daughter, Ellie.
Oliver joins her, gently resting his hand on her shoulder as he kisses her cheek. Hello, Peg, my love, he says. What’s up?
I was just remembering what Ellie used to say when she was little. Do you remember?
You mean when it was raining like this?
Oliver swallows hard, forcing himself not to weep. Yes. I do.
Peg and Oliver hold each other tight as the storm thunders on.
I miss her, Peg says.
Me too, Oliver says. Come on, or we’ll make it as wet in here as it is out there.
I’m going to get my mac and go outside. Do you want to come too? Peg asks.
I’ll make breakfast and call you when it’s ready.
Why did she have to die? Peg asks.
I’ll get your mac, Oliver says.
The toast is in the rack. A jar of homemade marmalade sits by the butter dish. The teapot is ready for hot water, as is the cafetiere of coffee for Peg. The green enamelled French Godin stove warms the room. On Radio 4 they are discussing the extreme weather caused by climate change.
Oliver goes to the window. Peg, hatless, her hair flat to her head, stands in the middle of the lawn in her floral wellies. Bucketing rain pummels her ankle length Macintosh. As Oliver watches, he’s startled by the sudden dramatic change in the light in the garden. Despite great black clouds, from which water falls unremittingly, the lawn is bathed in bright lucent light.
Peg turns, and with the broadest smile he’s seen in years beckons him. Oliver, just as he is, in jeans and jumper, hurries to join her and is immediately drenched to his skin. He feels no cold, only surging energy as he runs.
Peg holds Ellie’s left hand. Oliver takes his little daughter’s other hand and squeezes it.
Look, Daddy, Ellie says, It’s untidy rain.
Oliver weeps and says, Yes, darling, it’s your untidy rain.
I knew you’d come back one day, Peg says. I love you.
I can’t stay, Mummy.
I know, sweetheart.
Peg and Oliver find their hands entwined – their daughter gone from between them.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
You can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door” here >>>More
© Phil Cosker 2022
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.