It’s stupid early, and Fife’s gone out for a run. Yes, he stayed the night. I didn’t mean for him to stay, but it’s his bloody cottage, so what could I say? And honestly, I wanted him to stay. Right, let me get on with the blog.
He picked me up from work, and my hangover was finally subsiding. We had the ‘how’s your head today’ chat for a bit, then he asked about the night before. ‘You sounded like you were crying on the phone. You okay?’
I tried to pull the, ‘I was just drunk’ routine, but he saw through it, so I confessed…sort of. I said it was the house guests, that they were more than house guests. They’re friends who have no where else to go. They don’t have jobs and they have no where else to stay. So, they’re kind of stuck at mine, and I’m feeling a bit trapped in my own flat. Last night it just got to be too much. I told Fife about the party, and how much it upset me.
He said I could use the cottage anytime I like. He hasn’t been renting it out lately; in fact, he uses it himself most weekends for writing. I could even have a spare set of keys. There’s no way I’ll take him up on his offer. I can’t go running away to someone else’s cottage because Pete and S have taken over my flat, but it was so very, very nice of him to offer.
The cottage is just outside a little village in Perthshire. It’s set back a bit with a garden on each side. There’s a wood down the lane and the house over looks some mountains. (I have no idea which ones. Fife told me but I don’t remember. I think there’s a ‘Cairn’ in the name, or maybe a ‘Nevis’, or fuck…I have no memory for Scottish words. They all sound like gibberish to me.) The cottage is fairly small, a double bedroom and another room turned into an office with a spare single bed. But it’s a really lovely little house, perfect for a couple downsizing, and I can see why Fife’s parents retired here.
I’d gone by the store before he picked me up, so I had the staples with me: wine, wine, corkscrew, wine, crisps, a bag of apples, and a chocolate gateau. Fife helped me into the house with my bag and my groceries, then went to say his ‘good-byes’. It was kind of weird, because this was his house and he was just leaving me to it, so I insisted he stayed. He protested profusely and said that it sounded like I needed some time alone. He was not going to impede on that. But I wanted him there, even if for a bit. It seemed nice to have him around, so he succumbed and said he’d come in for a slice of chocolate cake.
Behind the back garden has a stone patio, so we took the cake and a bottle of wine out to the back and settled in to watch the sun set. Maybe I did it on purpose, I don’t know, something subconscious, but I plied him with wine until he couldn’t drive. Okay, plied with wine may be an overstatement — he accepted a second glass of wine, and since you can’t drive on two glasses, he had to stick around.
The sun went down and he lit a fire in this giant outside terracotta vase. You know those things that are shaped like clay Russian dolls and with fire in the middle. I don’t think I’m describing it too well, but you see them in shops that sell Peruvian things and I saw them all over the place in the US. Anyway, he lit a fire, I grabbed two blankets off the settee in the lounge, and we laid in lounge chairs looking at the stars between the clouds.
Fife told me stories of the constellations in the sky, pointing out each one: King Cepheus, Hercules, Cassopia, Orion and how the closest star to earth hangs on his belt. Fife pointed out both Mars and Saturn which where in the sky, and said that those names are Roman, but their Greek counterparts are Zeus and Ares. He told me about how Perseus killed Medussa before he and Andromeda were put into the night sky.
We each lay on our individual lounge chairs. We got through another bottle and a bag of crisps, until it got too cold, the clouds completely covered the sky, and the fire died out in the giant terracotta Russian doll. We ran inside and Fife made a fire in the hearth and I made cups of tea. I laid down on the rug by the fire, and warmed my toes. I felt like a curled up dog while Fife lounged across the sofa.
I asked him if it was weird being in his parent’s house without them there. He said sometimes, but mostly not. This wasn’t the house he grew up in, and he had it remodeled after his father died. It needed updating and Fife was going to sell it. So he had the whole thing redone. But then the economy tanked, and he’s better off keeping the property. And now he said he won’t sell it. It’s too much a part of his life. An escape when he needs it, and a little extra income from rentals when books aren’t selling.
We talked more. I asked if his kids like coming to the cottage, he said ‘no’ because they’re modern inside children. Plus they’re at that age where they hate to be away from their friends. Any attempt to pull them away is met with aggression, so he doesn’t bother bringing them to the cottage that often. Plus, one would have have to sleep on the floor or in the bed with him, and it’s not worth the fight. Then he added that his ex-wife has taken the kids away to Tenerife for the Easter holidays. Left on Thursday morning. ‘They’ll go there, but when I ask them to come to the cottage it’s like pulling teeth’, he said.
I wanted to ask if that was his ex coming out of his house on Wednesday, but I thought better of it. I didn’t want him to think I was spying, and he was starting to sound a bit bitter about his kids going away. So, I changed the subject by asking him about his childhood.
He was raised in the Highlands, and he said he loved to roam as a kid, and how he and the boys from the village would run in packs like dogs. There were broken arms and stitches, but they all lived and were better for it. I then confessed that I was raised a ‘city girl’. Never much one for the great outdoors. It’s not that I don’t like being outside, because I love it when the weather is nice. I just don’t particularly like getting muddy. Fife said I sounded like a cliché.
Then Fife crawled down on to the floor with me. He put some more logs on the fire and propped his head up with his arm. I was lying on my back curled up in the blanket and he was right over my face. He leaned over and with his free arm wiped a hair from across my face. He was so close I could smell him — the wine on his breath, and the musky smell of his skin. I closed my eyes and…nothing. He had rolled over onto his back.
It was time I asked. ‘Was that me in your book?’
He propped himself back up on his arm and said, ‘What? No! That character’s based on a famous slave mentioned in Greek myth.’ Then he listed some Greek poets (which had even more unpronounceable names than Scottish mountain names) who had written about her.
I felt like a massive twat.
But he was kind and said, ‘I guess I can see the similarities. Hmmm. Hadn’t really thought about it before,’ and he rolled back off his arm.
We continued to talk but the fire had died out and before long I was snoozing like an old hound dog. I woke up to light coming in the window and him poking me to go to bed. Headed towards the sofa, but he pointed me in the direction of the master bedroom. I drug myself to bed half asleep. He must have slept on the sofa or in the office.
I woke up not long ago and found a note stuck to the telly which said he had gone out for a run. To make myself at home. I don’t know what to make of last night. It was amazing. There’s a connection between us, I can’t ignore it. But he hasn’t made a move, even though he had every opportunity. But I guess that’s okay, because I don’t know what I want out of this.
I’d better go, because he should be back soon. I don’t know if he plans on staying the rest of the weekend, or if he’s heading back home. I guess I’ll find out.