Geoff and Wendy moved in five years ago. I lent him my aluminium double-ladder and from then on “Good mornings.” and Christmas cards were exchanged. This is how, to the horror of many Americans, Brits endure propinquity in the suburbs.
Last night, when Zach arrived, I noticed strong winds had blown over our outdoor Christmas tree. I re-erected it and it blew over again. Eventually, in my PJs and my new fleece dressing gown, I tied the top of the tree to the wall.
Zach is here for the Hereford panto, VR’s treat. He entered my office this morning at 7.30, half an hour earlier than had been agreed. Breakfast time for him. Two Weetabixes swimming in milk (my anti-milk hand trembled, doing this), a small carton of apple juice and a satsuma. I also turned on the downstairs telly for him, sound almost inaudible. As I returned to my office I saw the tree had remained upright.
One reason I persisted with the tree is because its flickering light might, conceivably, have been a nighttime reassurance of normalcy for Wendy, alone in her house. It might, but never in a million reasons would I have pre-rationalised such an idea. I am up here writing fiction and that, if ever I saw it, is fictional reasoning. I am desperately sorry for Wendy and will, I hope, attend the funeral. But I re-erected the tree because the lights look good at night.
Fiction, by definition, is not truth. It handles truth, but fictively.