Well, I suppose I have to write something today.
I can’t just post a picture of shoes. Not even Nicky’s pretty pink ones.
You remember Nicky, right? Her and CheesyMike over at We Work For Cheese are running a writing challenge throughout February.
So I’d best write something. No pictures of shoes.
They really are very pretty, mind.
Friends keep me sane.
Their actual efficacy in this respect is debatable I’m told, but for me, it’s a fact to say that without them, I’d be a wreck.
For example, take Max. We’ve been friends since we attended St. Mungo’s Boarding School back in the Seventies, and he’s been a rock in all that time. And occasionally a tree. And sometimes the Pope; that was an odd fortnight. But mostly, he’s been a rock.
I knock quietly on Abbey’s open back door and with a brief halloo, I enter her kitchen. I always marvel; as neighbours, we have identical houses, but they couldn’t be more different. Take this kitchen; it’s a neat and scrupulously clean affair, with dazzling work surfaces, immaculate appliances, and vibrant fresh flowers standing on a gingham-clothed table.
Mine is a little more relaxed and male, even when I have company.
I’ve not seen Abbey for a day or two, and I’m just checking in, making sure she’s okay; it’s what friends do. And I’m relieved to hear bright laughter coming from inside the house, and again I offer up a shout of welcome.
The laughter stops, and I hear a clear, happy voice.
Through here, Indigo!
It’s Abbey. I smile. I’ve only known her for a couple of years, but my neighbour and I have become close friends. She’s like a sister somehow, a warm and supporting presence under any circumstances. In return, she seems to enjoy being my neighbour, and will drop by for tea (and bring home-made savouries and cake) most days. It’s lovely.
I follow the signature scent on sunflowers through to the front room, and peep round the door.
Abbey is there, sitting on her pretty floral sofa. Again, I’m struck by how lovely her own version of our front room is. But only momentarily; she has company. My neighbour, freshly blonde, is fussing the ears of a magnificent Siberian tiger who sits like a big happy dog on her bare feet. His back leg and tail twitch appreciatively.
Sitting next to her on the sofa, gently stroking the back of the tiger is a pretty brunette with a thoughtful, inward smile. Her dark hair tumbles loosely, almost touching her knees as she bends to fuss the big cat.
It’s Ziva. I smile. I’ve only known her for six months, but it seems like longer. She’s strong and determined and focused, and a source of encouragement and kicks in the arse when I need one. In return, she seems to like my stupid jokes, occasional words of wisdom and, as my literary agent and occasional muse, she seems to like my writing.
I had no idea the two of them knew each other.
Somehow this makes me nervous.
Indigo! they chorus and laugh, waving. Their hands touch briefly, and they exchange a smile.
Hey Abbey. Hey Z. I say, my smile a little crazed. The tiger looks up at me, expectantly. And hey, to…
This is Tiger, he's with me. says Ziva. It's a statement, not an explanation; it doesn't invite further questions.
He’s so beautiful, cooes Abbey, and on cue, the big cat rolls onto his back and offer his tummy, hopefully; my neighbour does not disappoint him.
Well, this is a nice surprise, I say, uncertain; I hope it doesn’t show. I had no idea you two knew each other. Nope, I definitely sound worried.
Abbey smiles warmly. Ziva dropped by to introduce herself as she was in the neighbourhood, but you were out.
Out? I’ve not been out today.
Yes, I dropped by after lunch yesterday, says Ziva, as insightful as ever, I would have headed home after coffee, but I was having such a lovely time getting to know Abbey, she touches Abbey’s knee, and then that charming Mr. King came home from the Embassy and insisted on taking us out for dinner.
He’s sweet that way, a real gentleman, interjects Abbey, appreciatively. She’s soft on the lion; they’ve dated on and off for some time now.
You’re not kidding, whispers Ziva, and he’s so handsome!
That gorgeous mane!
And that beautiful silk tie!
Well, it was probably one of Indigo’s.
Yeah, Roth always looks so smart in them, but King? she cracks a mischievous smile, Yum! You know? The pair laugh like old friends, not-quite-oblivious to me.
Oh good grief, big cats will be the death of me.
I cough politely.
Tiger rolls again, lost in heavenly friction.
Friends like Abbey and Ziva keep me sane.
As individuals, I feel so lucky to know them both. So much so, that I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And as I see them together, I’m pretty sure I just heard it.
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