It will be a warm day in Hell...
It was the largest meeting in Hell (Michigan) that I could remember. The Town Hall had been taken over by TV crews from all over, for their annual conference. They had been snowed-in for the last three days. Yes, they were supposed to leave last Sunday but here we are on Wednesday and they are still here. I say this through gritted teeth...I mean, they are welcome – any extra business to the town is of course welcome – but the town is heaving beyond breaking point. Produce is running out at the store, rooms are full at every guest house; there are no parking places in the street. Let’s face it: it’s an annoyance now. They are all so bloomin’ cheerful! I get a, “G’day, Ma’am” at the market; I get a, “G’day, Ma’am” at the hairdressers; I get a “G’day, Ma’am” as I step out of my front door. I daren’t sit on the veranda, oh no! They would come up to me and ruin my day.
Now, if these intruders came from Hell, they would know I am the most miserable woman in the town. I’m not proud of that but I know it’s a fact. I hear them talking. I know what they say. I’ve been alone a long time; it makes you miserable. I lost Arthur 20 years ago tomorrow: Thursday 14 th January. I thought I would be able to mourn in peace – I shall barely be able to get in to the cemetery at this rate!
If it wasn’t for the weather, they would no longer be here. We would have been free of them. I would have been able to mourn in peace. I won’t even be able to honour my Arthur properly because of them.
One of the TV crew told me in the store that tomorrow was going to be the start of the big thaw. The temperatures had been climbing slowly since daybreak and by tomorrow would be above normal, even warm. They would be leaving soon but not in time for me to have peace at the cemetery in the morning. Not soon enough for me to chat away to Arthur without people joking and laughing when perched on the benches in the beautiful cemetery grounds. Oh it was far more important for them to have a rest in the morning sun than to leave us town-folk in peace while we visit our loved ones.
I know I shouldn’t have done it, not really, it’s not like me. I just visited the conference hall down at the Town Hall building. The doorman let me in without a problem – I’ve known him since he was three years old. I used to work in the Kindergarten and he was one of my favourite little boys. He had no mum you see, so he kind of latched on to me. I didn’t mind. I liked it truth be told. Arthur and I hadn’t been blessed with children. Sadness filled our house for many years because of it; I managed to receive so much love from the little ones at Kindergarten that it took a lot of the pain away. Most of the time.
I retired to look after Arthur when he was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. We came out of the Oncologist’s office in stunned silence. Part of our life ended right there. Arthur had only weeks to live and I had to nurse him at home (we didn’t want him going to any hospital) so my time at the Kindergarten came to rather an abrupt end. Two hits of sadness in one.
At the Town Hall, with my full picnic basket, the doorman let me in, giving me a little peck on the cheek as I squeezed passed him; I wasn’t getting any thinner in my old age! I had made the TV crews some of my best-loved wares: cinnamon buns; doughnuts filled with custard; chocolate cookies; flapjacks – the basket’s lid was bursting. After all, I wanted to make sure as many of them could have one. They said they had been working hard and they were leaving tomorrow, when it was warmer.
Many grateful noises were oozing from the mouths of the visitors. Smiling at them in thanks, I left the Town Hall as soon as possible. I couldn’t get out of there quickly enough, I’ll tell you that. For all of half an hour, I was the most popular woman in Hell. I have to laugh. That could be written on my head-stone: “For half an hour, she was the most popular woman in Hell.” I like that. I didn’t like being there with them though. They made my skin crawl with their niceties.
I expect tomorrow will be another hectic day in Hell. Most of the TV crews will be set to move out in the warm, glorious sunshine but I imagine it may be hectic for another reason. On the anniversary of my Arthur’s passing, I suspect the streets will be full again – of paramedics, police and coroners’ cars.