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Above him in the dreary overcast sky, two sparrows glided effortlessly on the light breeze. His sodden boots, caked in mud disturbed the damp blades of grass, sending a host of ground bugs scuttling in all directions. Eyelids heavy, he blinked slowly - like a cat in the early morning, and catching glimpses of his plodding feet, hypnotised by the rhythmic but stilted movement. Resting his chin on his chest and almost staggering, eyes closed, he could feel sleep coming - sure as the night.

Coming towards him now, and clambering slowly over the old stile was Barry; Swandri jacket hanging loosely over his slumped shoulders. The two men walked together, heads down, arms hanging by their sides, stumbling wearily through the wet clumps of grass. No words passed between the men as they made their way towards the comfortable farm-house. There was no need to talk, they knew each other well, and there was that un-explainable phenomenon where two good friends felt a sense of communication and understanding, speaking just through their eyes as it were.

From behind an ominous swathe of dark cloud, a warming streak of sun-shine lit up the scene, the burden of misery lifted off the shoulders of the horizon. From the direction of the approaching farm-house wafted the faint aroma of some darn good stew cooking on the range - and mingled with the priceless smell of a batch of cookies asking to be taken out of the oven. The men raised their heads - a whisper of a smile bringing life to their tired, dirty and sun-burnt faces.

Stretching his arms and swinging his head around to free up his neck he turned the knob on the old door and swung her open, Barry following him in. Lizzy was lifting the biscuits off the hot trays so they wouldn't stick, while Jane hit the switch on the good old Russell Hobbs Kettle. He let his knee-length leather jacket fall off his shoulders, caught it and hung it on the hook on the back of the door. Barry lay himself on the window-seat and lay exhausted, occasionally letting a low groan escape from his lips, and then a sharp intake of breath.

Lizzy looked up as the men entered the warm cottage "How was your day?" They always ask that question, bless 'em. He looked across at his sister, "good... yeah, pretty good". "Coffee?" Jane shot a look across the room at the frame of Barry, draped across the window-seat. She was upset that he was lying on the mending and bits and pieces she'd left there - but didn't say anything. "Yep, oh that would be great - he could use one too".

Raising his hands to his face he vigorously rubbed up and down. Better. Lowering himself into the battered old chair by the fire, he sunk back, sleep threatening to overcome him any second, like Odysseus and the sirens. A hand on his shoulder. Lizzy. "Thanks!" What was that, two minutes shut-eye, wow it helps. He accepted the cup, looking up at his sister - winking and then rubbing some of that sleep out of his eyes. The coffee was good as usual, strong and just the right amount of milk. It burnt the back of his throat as he took a sip. Barry had sat bolt upright at the smell of the boiling water being poured into the cups, mixing with the coffee powder. He tilted his head back and poured the burning liquid down his throat.

His sister's friend Jane had been over, helping Lizzy out while the rest of the family was away. She and Lizzy stood at the bench, giggling about something. "What are you two up to?" He pulled himself up in the chair and looked over. Jane turned round, holding a plate of the cookies. "Thanks". He took a couple - they were hot and stuck together - he couldn't help it. Almonds on top, good. But what on earth was this, green specs of stuff all through the biscuits - jelly crystals maybe. He let out a somewhat pained laugh and dug into the biscuits. They were good with the coffee. He looked across at Barry, and they both raised their eyes in puzzlement. "What's the green stuff?" Barry put the question to the cooks.

The girls turned their heads, eyes dancing with mischievous laughter, and said nothing.



Anonymous Lizzy & Jane said...

hahah, just as well you didn't know what that green stuff was, aye...

11:52 am, June 11, 2008 

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