Not my most current project, since I'm out on a Granma Grace care week and can only bring my l'il Chromebook with me, which limits projects and keeps logging me in on the wrong Google account and suchlike minor mischief. An opportunity however to work on something that could take another decade to finish but if this seems daunting I must remember that the time will pass anyway. Also I have got a little more blogging done which I have enjoyed and hope you have too.
This developing chapter is written in the past tense which I struggle with, please do pick me up if I've unwittingly swapped anywhere. It is not a dramatic scene as this is a calm point, which will suit this book (but no spoilers, I want the finished article to surprise you). Any feedback is valued.
Mr Longhi wiped his brow. The heat grew heavier each year, he thought, little by little, a courtesy so he could get used to it; or he was slower and that was why the ice cream seemed to melt faster. Here I am: heavy limbed, old, warm and weary, happy to open the door of my walk in freezer. If I were a plant all my flowers would be dropped, all my seeds scattered out, and I would be photosynthesising to feed a rootstock. If that’s how it works? But if I were a plant that is what I would do. Yes, I would be feeding something and soaking in every hour of light, soothed in every dark hour. He huffed, laughing also. The heat made him fanciful. He checked his list. They were low on mint, vanilla, strawberry. He stacked the tubs, lifted, hugged them in for the cold before going back up the steps to restock. There is only good ice cream here, he said to himself. It tastes of real things. And I have kinds for everyone - no dairy, no sugar, no fat, full cream, sugary, all kinds. In cones, in tubs. Recyclable tubs, wooden scoops. He had tried to think of everything. Not just because of competition, although one must pay bills, pay wages, and think of this too. ‘Yes.’ He nodded, and looked out of the window at the street down which many people walked. He could see his customers sat under the canopy; bowls of ice cream, little cups of dark roast, tall glasses stacked with ice cluttered little tables; he heard their chatter, smelled coffee, a blend of fragrances, the river water. He looked beyond to the rails that edged a drop to the wide river, the troughs of flowers bursting bright, the benches where a few folk rested under the shade of pollarded trees. Older folk. A pregnant lady with a toddler sleeping in a pram; she looked half asleep herself. ‘Such a long time ago,’ he whisper-sighed, all of his children being grown up, being far away. Funny how you have such a longing. The love has not diminished, of course not. It is not so - visceral? They were once in your arms, the mess of them everywhere. The physical connection. But they have good lives, are good people. It feels like a reward. But of course, there is also luck. His nephew, for example; his brother in law. But he does not want to think of that now. He looked at the painted mirror behind the counter, at the map of his face: a patient terrain, that too is good. He will phone his sister this evening. Invite her down when the heat is easing. They will remember being children themselves. Going to get ice cream. She loved mint best then but she was more inclined to chocolate now, or rum and raisin. A scoop of each! The door was propped open so no bell rang when the young woman came in. She flicked her gaze over the cakes as Mr Longhi washed the ice sheen from his hands. He saw her in the mirror and guessed she would not order cake, nor ice cream. He thought mango sorbet, but the blackcurrant, the lemon, the rose petal: all the flavours were worth having. She lingered over the choice. ‘Let me know if you want to taste any, they’re all delicious of course.’ ‘Thank you.’ Only good food here, he was pleased to repeat to himself, but it depends how you think of it, of course; some people choose not to eat cake, to keep healthy. They order the light meals, which is right for them. If they ate cake maybe it would seem like defeat, like a snub to their own choices. The joy for them is in physical health. Though those people are rare. More common is the struggle to choose health when the joy is in pudding! Moderation in all things, the old man smiled, including moderation. Keep balance. Lose balance to know balance. ‘The mango is sugar free,’ he informed her, ‘the rest have a little to sweeten and preserve, all organic.’ ‘Oh,’ she looked up and smiled, ‘the mango then please.’ ‘Anything to drink?’ She reminded him of someone, but perhaps she had been here before. ‘Could I have just water?’ Yes, plain or sparkling?’ ‘Tap is fine.’ ‘Where would like to sit? I’ll bring it over.’ She looked around, pointed to the round table in the corner. ‘There please.’ ‘Good choice, do take a seat.’