It didn’t take long for word to get around. The residents of Lingonberry Lane felt that Mrs Richards of number 7 had finally lost her marbles. Early on Christmas Eve she had set a table, a chair and a big beach umbrella in vivid shades of purple at the end of her driveway, right next to her letterbox. A tablecloth in bright red and yellow spots draped across the table, a jug of iced water and a plate of homemade fruit mince pies sat upon it, and an esky, by her side, was full of ice. When Darrell Simpson of number 8 cheekily asked her where she would go to the loo she answered “Never you mind. I’ve got it sorted!” But no one could see how it could be done with dignity.
Around ten o’clock, Mrs. Simpson said to Mr. Simpson, “I’m going to see Muriel and find out what she’s up to. I’ll take a pot of tea and some of your mum’s fruitcake. “
With that, she marched across the road, straw hat on her head, laden tray in her hands. Behind her came Darrell carrying a folding chair as if it was a complicated bomb. Gingerly he set it down and went back home before Mrs Richards told his mum about the toilet remark.
“Now what are you up to Muriel?” asked Fionnula Simpson as she poured two cups of tea, before settling down in the chair. “Everyone thinks you’ve gone doolally!”
“I’m waiting for the post, Fee,” she answered sipping her tea and helping herself to a piece of fruitcake, “Here, have a mince pie. I made them myself.”
Fionnula helped herself to a pie and the two ladies relaxed under the purple umbrella, happy in the comforting silence.
Later, Ms Dodemaide, from number 11, banged her folding chair down with a bump. “What are you doing out here??” she asked, fanning herself with her hat.
“Waiting for the post!”
“I’ll wait with you” said Melissa Dodemaide as she sat down and reached for the water.
“You’ll need more ice in that” said Muriel. She grabbed ice from her esky and the three of them sat back, safe from the sizzling sun, in the shade of the purple beach umbrella waiting for the post to arrive.
When the Postie arrived, she gave her bell a little jingle as she drove on by. “Merry Christmas Ladies!” she called, “No post for you today Mrs. Richardson.”
They watched as she drove up the lane, brakes clicking on and off as she went.
“I suppose my lot will be wanting their lunch” said Fee. She collected her stuff and crossed the road.
“I’d better go too” said Melissa, “Mum said she’d call.”
Muriel sat for a moment before taking her things inside.
The phone was ringing as she walked in the front door.
“Hello Mum. I didn’t post your parcel in time. How would you like a visit?”
“That’d be lovely!”
Copyright December 2019