The sun was shining brightly when Eleanor woke up. Was she
late? She'd better get a move on. Adrian would need his breakfast and then
she'd have to get Mikey and Sandra off to school. Why was it so light already?
It wasn't summer was it? And what was it with those thin curtains. When had she
changed those? What had happened to the thick velvet ones?
She turned over. Oh, yes of course.
What was she thinking? Adrian had passed away two years ago. And Mikey and
Sandra were now grown up and had children of their own. They were coming to see
her next Saturday. It would be her birthday.
She didn't like this single bed,
though. She never knew which side to get out of and whichever one she chose it
was the wrong one. She was always frightened as well at night that she was
going to fall out of it. It was a pity they wouldn't let her have a double bed.
"What would you want that
for?" the young woman from the office had asked. "You're not thinking
of taking a lover, are you? At your age?"
Why not at her age? "No, but I
like to spread myself out a bit."
The young woman had shaken her head.
"Well, I'm sorry. There isn't really enough space here."
No there wasn't. Oh, it was a
pleasant enough little apartment and they looked after her well. But it was a
"Good morning, Eleanor,"
Ah good. He was wearing his red
bobble hat today. He reminded her of Mikey when he did that.
"You going to boss me about
Tomas bowed slightly. "I'm here
to look after you Eleanor. You know that."
suppose I'd better have a shower and get dressed. You can avert your eyes,
"I wouldn't dream of watching
you undress or shower, Eleanor. But you don't have to do that. Remember, the
ladies will come later this morning and help you. You can have your breakfast
though. It is all laid out in the kitchen. Wait for me and I'll help you with
the cup-kettle." Tomas disappeared from the wall.
Eleanor pulled on her dressing gown
and made her way into the kitchen. She remembered now; they wouldn't let her
have a shower and get dressed on her own since she'd had that nasty fall a
month ago. Her leg still hurt when she walked.
Tomas was already on the wall when
she got into the kitchen. The table was laid for breakfast.
"You need to put some water or
orange juice in your glass," said Tomas. "The orange juice is in the
fridge. You can get the milk out while you're in there."
She found the orange juice and the
"Press the button on the
She did as he'd asked. The little
machine started spluttering and hissing.
"I'll tell you when it's safe to
take the cup and start drinking,” said Tomas.
Goodness, they really made a baby out
"Don't forget to take your blood
pressure pill, Eleanor."
Eleanor shook her head. "You
don't half nag, Tomas. Well then. Are you going to tell me what's going on in
Tomas disappeared from the wall and
the morning TV show started playing. Goodness, was there no end to this: petrol
shortages, supermarket shelves empty, that virus kicking off again and now a
war. A war? Or was it a new virus?
"Blooming heck, Tomas. It's all gone a bit mad hasn't it?"
Tomas appeared at the corner of the
"But you'll be safe, Eleanor.
We'll make sure of that."
Eleanor watched a couple of more cheerful items on the television while
she finished her breakfast and then went to wash up.
Suddenly Tomas was there again, full
size, on the wall.
"You don't have to do that. You
can put the dishes in the sink if you like. And you can put the milk and the
orange juice back in the fridge."
"I suppose after the girls have
been I'd better get out to the shops to get something for lunch."
"You don't have to shop for
lunch, Eleanor. Remember; they'll bring you a hot meal."
Oh yes that was right, they did. And they were very nice meals too. Though she
did miss cooking. And it was especially nice on a Sunday when those who weren't
taken out would eat in the big dining room downstairs. She'd done that once or
twice when the children had been away on holiday. It had been very
"Well, what am I going to do
with myself all day?"
"You can sit in your armchair
and watch TV or you can read your book."
Eleanor nodded. She made her way into
her lounge area and sat down in her armchair. She bit her lip and frowned.
"What's the matter?" asked
Tomas. "You look worried."
How did he manage to do that? Skip
from one wall to another in less time than it took her to walk from room to
room. "I'm wondering whether they're still going to come on
"Would you like me to
"Yes please. That would set my
mind at rest."
Tomas disappeared from the wall,
which whirred and creaked a little. She always felt a bit anxious when that
Then Mikey's face appeared. Little
Anna-Louise was at his side.
"Hi, Mum," said Mikey.
"Tomas contacted us and said you were a bit worried about Saturday. We'll
all be there, Mum. You just make sure you get your best dress on."
Anna-Louise was jumping up and down
excitedly. "We've made a lovely surprise for you, Grandma. We can't wait
to show you."
"Oh. Thank you, dear. That will
They were good kids. All of them.
Mikey, Sandra, Tomas, Anna-Louise, - what was the other one called? And
Sandra's two? Oh dear.
"There you are, Eleanor. All done. That's better isn't it?"
"Yes, thank you, dear."
She really had no recollection of
what had happened since breakfast. She only had a hazy memory as well of
actually getting into the shower. That might not have even been today.
Now. It was the girl with long black
hair today. She could never remember her name. The plain one with the greying
hair, that was Jean. She could remember her because she was there every day.
"We have plans for this
afternoon, Eleanor, if you're up for it," said Jean.
"Well, it's such a nice
day," said the other one, "we thought we'd take you all out for a
little walk in the park. What do you think about that?"
"Oh, I don't know. Will Tomas be
able to come?" She always felt better if Tomas was around.
Jean laughed. "Did you hear that
Tomas? She wants you to come to the park with us."
Tomas, who had not been there a few
seconds ago, laughed. "If only. But you know, Eleanor, I can't leave the
"But what will you do while I'm
"It's only like when you're
asleep. My background programmes will carry on running and looking for updates.
They also use the down time to add more data."
Eleanor shook her head. "I
haven't a clue what you're on about Tomas."
"It doesn't matter. You go out
with these nice young women. The fresh air will do you good. Wrap up warm,
There he was again. Nagging.
Perhaps it would be all right. They
were nice enough, the other people who lived here. She'd found that out at some
of the Sunday lunches. But just how mobile were they?
Well, Jean and Tomas and the other
one had been right. It was rather nice in the park. The air and the sun were
warm. The leaves were going all sorts of glorious colours. Could she taste the
sea as well? Salt air? How far were they from the sea? Where were they exactly?
She wasn't sure. She used to live by the sea, didn't she, with Adrian, Mikey
"Come on then, Eleanor; fancy a
stroll round the duck pond? I've got a bit of bread for them." Raymond,
wasn't it? He was quite dapper. He held out his arm to her. She took it. He had
a bit of a stiff walk but that went with her limp, didn't it? They suited one
another, didn't they? Could he become her lover? That would show that snooty
young woman from the office. Still, there really wasn't room for a double bed
in her apartment.
"Cheeky beggars, ain't
they?" A couple of Canada geese had come right up to Raymond and one of
them was trying to take the bread out of his hand. "No, you don't. You'll
have to go and run after it the same as the others." He lobbed his last
piece of bread into the pond.
Then there was a great flurry of
wings as the sweetest little Westie Eleanor had ever seen ran towards them. He
was even sweeter than their Archie they'd had when the children were still at
"Hello," she said bending
down to pet the little dog.
A young boy and, she supposed, his
mum came rushing after the dog.
"Come here, Suzie," cried
the boy. "Don't disturb the lady and gentleman."
Oh, so it was a little girl dog.
"It's quite all right. We're used to dogs, aren't we, Adrian?" No,
not Adrian. Raymond. He gave her a funny look.
"Come on Jack. Put her back on
her lead. You shouldn't have left her off."
"Come here you." Jack
clipped the lead on to Suzie's collar.
Eleanor sighed. "I wish we could
Jean had wandered over by then.
"Well, we were thinking of getting a cat to share amongst the
residents." She smiled at Jack's mum. "But why don't you bring your
dog along for a visit now and then?"
Jack jumped up and down and clapped
his hands. "Yes!"
"That would be lovely,"
The other one was beginning to herd
them back towards the gate. Jean carried on talking to the woman and her boy
while little Suzie kept making attempts to chase the ducks and geese. Eleanor
supposed Jean was telling them how to get to the apartments.
"So, Eleanor, has today been a
He asked her that every night at
about this time. He wasn't wearing his red bobble hat this time. Perhaps it was
near his bed-time as well.
"Oh yes it has. I've got a new
boyfriend. And a new little boy - John, Jeff? I can't remember his name. He's
got a little dog called Suzie. He's going to come and visit."
"So who's the boyfriend,
Eleanor?" Tomas was frowning and had his arms folded across his chest. He
looked a bit annoyed. Was he jealous?
"Oh, I'm only joking. I only
mean Raymond from downstairs. We went for a walk around the lake
"Well, the duck pond."
"That sounds nice. Now, Eleanor,
finish your cocoa and get into bed."
"You won't watch me getting
undressed will you?"
"You're ready for bed, Eleanor.
The ladies got you ready. Don't you remember?"
Eleanor chuckled. "So they did.
You'll look after me, won't you?"
"Of course I will, Eleanor. All