This story might be familiar to some of you already.
Niall’s legs felt like lead as he walked the short distance to collect his car which he had left parked at the house his sister was minding. Two days of work with only travel time between jobs left him feeling as grey as the sky overhead.
Lost in this hazy greyness he failed to notice the tiny woman until she spoke to him. “Good afternoon.” Her soft voice had an authoritative air to it which made him stop before her.
He noted her pastel pink coat, soft nude coloured shoes and pink hat thinking, she is dressed like the Queen of England. Niall noted the package she carried was square, wrapped in a crimson glossy paper and sitting on top of it a perfectly formed golden bow. He looked around him and couldn’t see how she had arrived at this old house on the top of the hill. He wondered if she was an angel.
“I’ve been invited to tea.” Her crisp words brought a smile to his face.
Niall opened the gate and she, to his surprise, walked through. He followed and they walked towards his car.
“You must work here. Are you the gardener?” She stared at him closely. “I have come to have tea with Lady Louise.”
He wondered in what parallel universe did gardeners wear nifty suits and white shirts. But she reminded him of his grandmother, whom he missed, so he made no caustic comment.
“No, I don’t work here. I left my car with my sister who is minding the house while the owner is away and I have come to collect it. I don’t think there is anyone here.” He waited for her to digest this information.
“So I am at the wrong house. I should try the other big house on the far side.” She said with a nod which sent a ripple waving across her silver hair.
He opened the passenger door intending to leave his jacket on the seat when, to his astonishment she neatly slipped into the seat.
Her blue eyes flashed at him as she said, “That is good you have your car. It won’t take a minute.”
Niall smiled while inside he groaned. He had thirty minutes to get to Dublin for his last appointment, then it would be home for food and sleep. He opened his mouth then thought better of speaking. He shut the door carefully and got into the driver’s seat.
The house in question was a mere four hundred yards away. He drove slower than normal and arrived before the large electronic entrance gate.
“It’s shut.” His passenger said. “I’ll wait.”
Lucky for all concerned the gate opened and he drove through, straight to the front door.
Then without thinking he got out, raced around to the passenger door, opened it and when she alighted Niall gave a slight nod.
With a nod in his direction she sailed sweetly past him carrying her gift.
Niall didn’t linger. Tiredness evaporated as he got back into his seat, gunned the engine and got out of there before he was snared again. “I am not up to dealing with a double dose of silver-haired trouble today.” He said with a sigh of relief as he noted his passenger had gone inside.
I was reminded of this tale last week.
It was late, I was late. And worse the automatic gate was playing up. The reason why became apparent when I stopped outside the gate and rolled down the passenger window. A ladies voice wafted in to me “Ah good I thought I was late.”
I frowned wondering if I, yet again, had got my wires crossed. I didn’t remember volunteering to drive an elderly lady anywhere.
So I leant across the seat and peered out the window. No, I didn’t volunteer to drive a stranger anywhere, especially to a committee meeting, which I guessed was her destination judging from the clipboard and file she carried.
She was talking at a rapid pace. I remembered NIall’s encounter and wondered should I shut my window, lock my doors but her next words caught my attention, “It is kind of you Maureen to offer me a lift.”
“I am sorry I am Maria, not Maureen. Are you sure you have the right house?”
She looked at me blankly then grimaced. “You are not Maureen”
I overlooked the disdainful look she shot my way. I smiled and agreed.
She didn’t look happy at all. “Where is Maureen?”
“One house over,” I said , thankfully at this point the gates clanged shut and I put my foot to the accelerator and left her to toddle into the house next door.
Like mother like son, I decided.