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Tem 25

Mum’s Friend Edna Part 1

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My mother’s world was quiet and hypnotic. I was staying with her for a couple of weeks in my childhood home on the Norfolk coast. You may have read the previous stories from this time; Mum’s Friend Dorothy and Grace and Danger. They give you an idea of what this small town was like and more specifically how my widowed mother and her widowed friends passed their days.The fact was they didn’t do much; they were coasting through middle age, comfortable and inactive. It was all tea and biscuits and television. That had made my arrival something of an event. Not that I was anything special: I realised that. But I was different, interesting because of my career as an illustrator in London. And safe. Her friends Dorothy, Grace and Edna knew – or at least assumed – I was respectable, and they had watched me growing up, so they probably remembered me when I was cute if I had ever been that.I had had the enormous good fortune to fill the sexual needs of Dorothy and Grace, separately, discreetly and safely; not exactly propositioned by these older women but presented with opportunities which I had taken. Neither I nor they had pushed our luck by suggesting a repeat performance. Encounters like we had, had lasted long in the memory and could be reenacted in the distant future if we wanted to. Desperate encores were the province of younger people. There was no mileage in the relationships for them or me.We were now friends with secrets, and happy enough like that. I could imagine the four of them sitting on a bench on the seafront, enjoying the fresh air and saying wisely, in reference to something else, that, “a little goes a long way.” Mum, of course, was not enjoying the fruits of her son’s temporary return in the same way as two of her friends had, although I had no way of knowing if she had from time to time availed herself of some other man.And then there was Edna. With her gregarious, chatty, cheeky nature, I would have expected to find myself having a playful skirmish with her rather than her more sedate friends, but güvenilir bahis maybe there was something to be said for the old thing about dark horses. Grace, in particular, was the darkest of horses, but she had seen an opportunity to revive the girl/woman element in herself, while in Dorothy that side was closer to the surface and she had staged our beautiful private meeting so naturally, it had seemed inevitable.The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get together with Edna, not to complete the set but because in some strange way I felt I owed it to myself and to her. If it never happened, that would be a shame. But I couldn’t suggest anything in the presence of the others. Edna was a retired English teacher and talked about offering her services as a proofreader.When the subject came up just a couple of days before I was to leave, I said there might be some scope in the area I worked in, where graphic artists wrote picture books in which the words were sometimes almost an afterthought. Maybe there was a chance for Edna there. I took her business card and said I would pass it to someone I knew.That evening, as I sat in my room drinking wine, I sent her a message.“Maybe we should put together some samples,” I suggested. “I’ve got some old projects on my laptop. We could do some work on one of them.”“Genius,” she replied. “But let’s keep it quiet. Nobody is taking it seriously and it may never happen anyway.”We agreed to meet the next afternoon at her house, a little cottage tucked away up a back street. She had decorated it like a doll’s house and I had always wondered what it was like inside. I arrived at 2 pm to find her sitting in the sunroom at the back, glasses on the end of her nose, writing her life story in an exercise book.“Yes,” she replied to my initial remark, “I’ll type it up when I’ve finished it, but it flows better longhand.”We struggled to read the screen of my laptop, but the room was just too bright, so we moved indoors, into a dark room stuffed with cushioned chairs. I asked if she güvenilir bahis siteleri would mind me looking at her manuscript and she hesitated before saying, “Okay, but remember it’s a first draft, just rough ideas really.”She went to make some tea and I flipped through the book until I found a chapter about losing her virginity in the back of a Morris Oxford up a country lane.“Well? Rubbish or what?” she laughed awkwardly when she returned.“Not at all,” I said. “You’ve got a way of conveying things that’s quite conversational. Most people get all stiff and formal when they write.”“How far did you get?” she asked.“Just dipping in here and there,” I said, closing the book. “Cuckoo Lane.”“Oh Christ, trust you,” she said, snatching the book away from me. “I don’t know if I’m going to keep that sort of thing in, but I thought I’d see how it came out.” She changed the subject and gave me her thoughts on the current Norwich City team. This may sound condescending, but I find it quite sexy when a woman knows about sport. As this feeling swept through me like a full-body erection, she noticed. She might not have known what it was she was noticing, but she felt something and it seemed to relax her. She suggested we sit back out in the sunroom and abandon the laptop for now.As we sat together on a small cane settee, looking at the birds flitting around her verdant garden, she began to speak.“Makes you feel mortal, doesn’t it?” she said.“Does it?” I responded. “Doesn’t it make you feel life could go on forever?’“Because it’s so beautiful and tranquil and safe?” she said in semi-agreement. “ I know what you mean. But I used to sit here with my husband all those years ago, thinking like that. And look what happened there.”“That’s life,” I said, hoping it didn’t sound glib and insensitive. “I mean it was tragic for you and the other wives, but life goes on, doesn’t it?”“It does, Philip, it does,” she said dreamily. “But not forever. My number is nearly up.” This shook me.“What do you mean?”“I mean according to the iddaa siteleri doctors,” she said evenly. “I’ve got a rare form of cancer that’s going to do me in within a year or two.”When someone gives this sort of insufficient information it’s hard to know what questions to ask for clarification, or indeed if you should ask any. I decided to wait and see.“I won’t bore you with the details,” she continued. “Nobody knows and nobody’s going to know. I shall disappear.”I put my hand on her knee. She was wearing jeans, quite tight and apparently stretchy. A loose shirt, Jane Russell-style on top. She was short and not exactly dumpy but not neat or elegant. She was a small woman in a style that might be called modest or unpretentious. Nice little breasts, a rounded but not fat stomach and her thighs looked firm beneath the cotton/elastane mix. We both became aware that I was studying her body and as I looked away, she shifted in her seat.“It’s okay,” she said. “If there’s one thing I have realised recently it’s that human beings waste a lot of time and miss out on a lot of pleasure through being what we call civilised.” She put her hand on mine on her knee and stroked it. “This is nice, for instance,” she said. “But many people would expect me to brush you off. Well, I don’t want to. And I’m not going to.” She looked at me for my reaction and all I could manage was a nervous smile.“This is not a battle, she said. “It’s not a tactical contest that will end up in victory and defeat. We can win together by triumphing over convention. Imagine what it was like for Adam and Eve, if you believe what it says in the Bible. Which I do, by and large.”“By and large,” I conceded.“Good,” Edna said. “So how did they feel before Eve picked that apple? Were they going to have sex and not worry about it, or hadn’t it even crossed their minds?” She looked deep into my eyes. “For the human race to multiply, which was God’s will, there would have had to be sex, wouldn’t there? But if humans hadn’t been given intellect, it would have been frantic, mindless coupling, like dogs and horses.” She laughed. “But big creatures like horses, it must be so uncomfortable and hard to organise. Because they can’t even talk about it.”“And they don’t have a choice of positions,” I offered.

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