Vera with tea-cake and cup of sugar in hand made her way to Mary Dowd’s front gate. As she went though the gate squeaked in protest and she wondered if the gate and the Mary she had met yesterday were of a similar ilk.
The Mrs Dowd she met yesterday certainly appeared a fearful woman but sometimes thought Vera that could stem from a lack of confidence.
She stopped such thoughts at that moment. She’d lived a life of solitude for so long she was in no position to judge the behaviour of others.
Their beach side home was situated in a cul-de-sac off the beach thoroughfare, and so she had no neighbours. There were houses either side, but they were rented out on weekends and holidays by families who came and went without a greeting her way of any kind.
Her isolation had suited Ernest as he saw Vera as the wife he brought out on special occasions when he needed to appear in public with a woman on his arm, he thought made him look good.
He ignored her requests to be able to get out more telling her the yearly holiday to some exotic place he chose should be enough as he expected her to be at his beck and call.
But all that had changed now. She was determined to be her woman, living with Ernest was the means to an end, but she was now going to discover who Vera was and what she might achieve on her own.
Part of that determination was establishing a friend with her next-door neighbour, no matter how hard it might turn out to be.
Vera had never been all that observant in life. She tended to take things as they were, as she knew she didn’t have much control over what happened around her.
But standing at Mrs Dowd’s front door, she saw there was no bell to ring. In front of her was a fly screen door and behind that a solid looking front door. It looked old and heavy. It must be an old house she thought having no idea of what the age of a house meant only that when they replaced the door on the beach house, their choices were nothing as solid as this door appeared.
She knocked on the screen door hoping she would be heard. As she did, she was oblivious to the panic on the other side.
She heard footsteps, then the rattling of locks before the door opened and Mrs Dowd stood before her looking far less dishevelled than she did the day before.
Vera with a smile on her face stood before her, a cup of sugar in one hand and the teacake in the other.
“Good morning Mrs Dowd,” said Vera trying to sound confident and cheerful, “I wanted to come and say thank you for your hospitality yesterday.”
“Oh,” replied Mary, “that’s alight, glad I could help. And call me Mary. Are you settling in ok?”
“Oh yes thank you. And I’m Vera. There’s so much to do, and I thought I needed a break, and so I’d come over and say hello, return your kindness and share this tea cake.”
“Oh, that’s lovely. Do come in,” said Mary instantly regretting her invitation. Her mind was racing thinking over what she had done to the house to make it presentable. ‘Thank goodness,’ she thought, ‘I vacuumed earlier.’
Vera came in and as expected cast an eye over Mary’s house. It was a simple place, adequate furnishings and looking beyond where they were standing she could see a well-lit back room.
“Lovely place you have Mary,” remarked Vera not sure her’s was any better.
“Thank you, Vera. Since Ray, my husband, left I’ve not been able to do a lot to it, but its home and thankfully mine, ” said Mary determined to show Vera she was a woman of means.
Earlier parts can be read here: