The Pearl Giver Ch2
By lisa h
I ended up cancelling the taxi coming for Amy and taking her home myself. She had me pull up to a terrace in a row on the edge of Birkenhead. Neat and tidy and off the main road, she lead me by the hand through the tiny entryway and into the living room.
“Welcome to my home!” Amy said and gave a twirl in the middle of a circular rug. From the wear marks, I could tell this was something she did all the time.
It’s lovely.” I glanced about. This was a room decorated by woman, not a man touch to be seen. “You all alone here?”
“No, there’s my mum. I’ll check to see if she’s in.”
I expected her to dance up the stairs that had lead up from that tiny entryway, but no. Elfin Amy opened her mouth and bellowed into the house: “Mum, you home?”
After a moment’s pause to listen, Amy turned to me. “Nope. Looks like she’s not here.”
Her mobile phone went at that point, buzzing and making a finger-clicking sound. She glanced down. “Oh, that’s my friend Stephanie. She checking to make sure I got home okay. She’s so kind.”
Amy tapped off a quick reply before lying down on the sofa.
“Do you mind making me a cup of tea? I’m ever so tired now.”
“Of course, kitchen through here?”
Amy nodded, her eyes already closed. “Milk and three sugars, please.”
I went through the door at the back of the living room and into a pretty kitchen. Large and light with multi-coloured tiles on the walls and cartoon pictures on the wall, it all came together in a very tasteful way and for the little I knew Amy, I recognised that it was entirely to her taste. I quickly found the tea and got the kettle boiling.
I poked my head back through the door. “Do you want anything to eat?”
“I feel a bit sick. There are some ginger snaps in a cupboard to the side of the tea. I’d love a few of those.”
I found the biscuits and put a few on a plate for her, made tea for the two of us and took it through. Amy was tapping away on her phone.
“My friend Mary checking up on me. She’s so sweet. I know her from the church. She’s really old, and learned how to text just so she could keep an eye on me. Isn’t that wonderful?”
I smiled and nodded as I put the tea and ginger snaps on the side table next to her.
“Her son is in the army. I’m not sure where he is right now, it’s all hush-hush. She worries all the time that he’s going to be killed. I keep telling her he’ll be fine, but she won’t listen. I hate seeing her so anxious.”
I sat down in an armchair. “Being in the army does sometimes mean injury or death, I don’t blame her for being worried.”
“Yes, but I know he’ll be okay. I keep telling her, but she refuses to believe me.” She sat up, grabbed a ginger snap and started nibbling. “Bloody nausea. I hate it.”
Her phone finger-clicked again and after a glance and a grin at what she read, she was tapping out a response.
“Dave from the pub where I used to work. Asking me if I want some dinner.” She grinned as she sent off the text. “Such a nice man.”
“I could fix you something while I’m here.”
“Oh, there’s no need.”
As if on cue, the doorbell went.
“You stay there and get your tummy under control, I’ll answer it.”
A middle-aged woman stood on the doorstep with a plate covered in tinfoil. “Hello, I’ve come to give Amy her tea.”
I was getting more astonished by the second as the love bubble around Amy expanded. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I think I fell in love with Amy the moment she waltzed out of Bay 2.
“I’m Jackie, I live next door.” She bustled past me and into the living room. “Hello darling,” she was talking to Amy now, “how are you? Not feeling too rough? We’re having chicken and mash tonight, hopefully it’ll be easy on your stomach.”
I closed the front door and followed Jackie through. Amy was already sitting up, plate on her lap and peeling off the tinfoil. “This looks totally delish. Thank you so much. You spoil me.” She reached up and grabbed Jackie’s hand. That shadow came across her eyes for a second, like it did when she first touched my hand.
“It’s nothing, honest. I made too much as always, I’d rather it go to you than in the bin. I’ll get you some cutlery, darling.”
The mobile was at it again, clicking away impatiently.
Amy leaned closer to me and whispered, “That woman throws nothing away. Leftovers are frozen, there’s never any waste. She’s immensely kind. Brings me dinner a couple of times a week, and always after my chemo. I do love her so.”
Jackie came back in with a knife, fork and a paper napkin. “Here you go, darling. I’ll leave you to it. Nice to meet you,” she said to me as she moved to leave.
Amy raised a hand in a stop motion. “Hang on, before you go, I need to tell you to get your boiler looked at. It’s about to conk out on you.”
“Will do, darling, you really are a wonder.” Jackie kissed Amy on the cheek and gave her a gentle hug before leaving. “Bye,” she called out as the front door closed behind her.
“She when will your mother be back?” I had a growing suspicion about her mum, the single dinner, the endless texts from people checking up on her, but only Amy could confirm that.
“Oh, later.” She scooped up a little mash and put it in her mouth.
“Where is she, maybe I could fetch her?”
“Please, you’ve gone to so much trouble already. Mum’s only out. She’ll be back soon.”
I didn’t believe Amy for a second. My handbag vibrated along with the popping-bubble noise of an incoming text.
“I bet your husband is looking for you.” Amy gave me a sly look before starting on the chicken.
She was right. Colin’s text read: You’re taking a long time, everything okay?
I replied back: Sorry, helping out another patient in need. Be home in fifteen.
“You need to go. Thank you ever so much for helping me today.” Amy stuffed in another mouthful of food.
“I do need to get going. The other half finally noticed I was missing in action.”
“Wait, before you leave, I want to show you something.” Amy put her plate to the side and skipped out of the room and up the stairs.
She was down again almost immediately, except now she was wearing a pair of fairy wings. They were like none I’d seen before, made from a delicate lace and decorated with sparkly sequins and beads. Patterns had been embroidered into the lace and they were exquisite.
“I made them. I love my wings. They make me feel free.” She danced on the rug for a moment, but I could tell her energy really was fading now.
“You should eat your dinner while it’s still hot,” I said, unable to stop from ginning. Amy really was the most lovable person I think I’d ever met.
She nodded and sat back down and started in on her dinner again.
“I’ve written down my number for you.” I put a slip of paper beside her tea mug. “I don’t do much on a Monday. I can bring you to Clatterbridge and stay while you get your meds. No one should go there alone.”
“That’s so sweet of you,” she said through a mouthful of chicken and gravy. “But I couldn’t ask that of you.”
“You’re not asking, I’m offering, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to.”
“Your husband’s waiting for you.” Amy said, almost as an aside as she continued to eat.
I glanced at the clock on the wall and sighed. “I know, I know. You take care, and if you need anything, text me, okay?” Somehow I knew if Amy ever needed anything there’d be a queue around the block to help, but I put the offer out there anyway.
“Thank you so much for today.” She opened her arms wide for a hug, and I leaned over to oblige. For a tiny girl, she sure packed in a giant bear hug.
“See you in a couple of weeks. I mean it. Let me know what time I need to pick you up.” I gathered up my coat and bag, searching for my keys as I walked out the room.
“Will do!” Her phone was finger-clicking again, and before I’d even closed the front door, I could hear her tapping out replies.