Naturally, they did gravitate to this fresh smelling outside world everyday to explore, sit in the sun, tidy the gardens or run on the gravelled track on Emelina’s grand estate. At least that what they had done when the isolation of their kitchen home had felt too cramped. When what was on television was all about the pandemic. Emelina suddenly liked that Digby had called it the Invisible Menace. It had been given so much airtime, and it was important, that she shuddered just thinking about it. But now, she and Dez were away from the estate. The track had gotten very boring. The gardens needed very little work. The sun was absolutely warm and beautiful in the country, but it had followed them into town. She had heard Dez get up and creep around trying not to waken her. She feigned sleep when Dez tiptoed past the fold out couch. Soon she smelled coffee and decided to stop pretending and get up. She had forgotten her slippers, so Dez had given her a pair of black anklet slippers to wear. They were warm and cosy.
“I’m up, Dez. Will be right out as soon as I brush my hair and wash my face.” Emmie had to pass the family pictures in the hallway on her way to the bathroom. She hesitated, smiled, then brushed them gently with her fingertips before continuing down the hall.
“What do you want for breakfast Emmie? I’ve got cereal and milk, or bacon and eggs or you can have both? And here’s some oranges in the fridge. You can have an orange too if you want.’
Emmie’s blond hair tied back in a ponytail, she barely looked as if she’d just gotten out of bed. She stifled a yawn, stretched and walked to the kitchen window.
“You’ve got a great view here, Dez! And a wonderful park with a trail. Can we go there today and explore?” Emmie sounded like a little girl wanting to go for a ride.
“I thought we were just going to pick up some of my things and go back to your place? But sure, if you want to we could spend the day in town, maybe pick up some burgers or a pizza. All the restaurants are closed except for take out, so we’d have to eat it outside or bring it back here.”
“Why don’t we just stay in town? That does sound like fun. Would it be all right if we did stay another night here? You know, Dez, if we go back out to the country, it would just be to maybe get a couple more things of mine, check and make sure the gardens we worked on are still ok. And there’s really no reason I have to go home.”
Dez, still in her pyjamas, her curly brown hair loose, leaned back against the counter, a mug of hot coffee cradled in her hands. “Are you sure? What about whether Digby and Martha need something?”
“I’ve got my cell phone with me and we’ll be in town if they need groceries. So it might be more convenient. But really Dez, I like your place. Like I said last night, it feels like home. I don’t know that I ever felt that way in my home. Maybe when Mike was alive, but he’s been gone for five years now. So often that house feels so big and empty. Anyway, enough of the sadness. For breakfast, I want cereal and an orange. Rice Krispies and milk….do you have any brown sugar?”
“I thought you were off of sugar! No way I’m going to give you sugar.”
“Sorry, sister dear, I found it. Too late.” Emmie had been going through the cupboards and found things in the same places as their mother would have had them.
And so, Emmie and Dez spent the day together. Dez took Emmie for a walk through her neighbourhood. Hartley, a moderately sized town, boasted small neighbourhoods, each with it’s own commercial area. In Dez’s neighbourhood, there were a couple of grocery stores and a drug store and were the only stores open. A beauty salon and dress shop were closed while pandemic restrictions were on. The GGB was open for limited hours for bank customers. Perfect Pizza and Hamburger Hut were at either end of this Main Street and were open for take out only.
“Is that the bank you really didn’t rob?” Emmie was pointing to a squat building across the street tucked between the beauty salon and the dress shop. The Global Grand Banks branch didn’t seem very imposing, but had certainly drawn Emmie’s attenion,
“Yes, ma’am. That’s it. Can you see those two security guards in there. Stanley and Giovanni. They really are good guys. Kind of goofy, but they keep their handcuffs at the ready! I’m surprised I don’t still have bruises from that wild night what - two weeks ago. Seems like a lot longer than that. I can laugh about it now, but that was one strange night.”
“I’m glad it happened ~ not that you were in jail ~ but that we got reunited after all these years. And to think we live in the same area. I’m just outside of Hartley and you live in Hartley. Can we go to that park I saw outside your window?”
“Let’s go. We’ll just keep walking up to that corner and then veer left. There’s an entry to the park there. I can show you the Japanese Garden ~ but you would know about that from the work that you do, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, I know about it, but I’ve never seen it.” Emmie stamped her foot. “I know all about so many things and I’ve seldom seen any of them. To a meeting and then home again. Oh, sure I read and listen to music but ……..”
“Emmie, it’s ok. You’re ok and we’re going to see one of those projects you’ve worked on right now. You really do need to get away from your place, don’t you? This might sound strange. Actually it does sound strange, but this Invisible Menace, may just have a lot of silver linings. We’re friends again. Sisters that actually talk to each other. We’ve been having some fun times this last couple of weeks. You’re finding things out about yourself that would still be stuck if all this hadn’t happened. And I’ve figured out that I can be proud of the home I have. I don’t know. There’s got to be more that I haven’t thought of, but don’t have time for that right now. Here we are at the Japanese Garden.”
Emmie was entranced by the graceful willows, lacy wisteria, little foot bridges and delicate water features. Rather than wondering why she hadn’t been here before now, she just soaked in the atmosphere. The cool green, the fresh air and slanting sun rays that dappled the gravelled paths they walked on. Dez, who came here often, found her favourite bench and sat in those sun rays watching the golden koi swimming beneath a running water pipe. When their hunger overpowered the pleasure they felt in the garden, they slowly wandered back to Hamburger Hut. Wooden benches outside welcomed them into the late afternoon sun while they enjoyed each other’s company.
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by
going too fast ~ you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
~ Eddie Cantor