Chapter 10. Maeve’s question.
It was still pitch dark when Maeve made herself some porridge. Before she left for Ada’s, Maeve wanted to have at least started the conversation with Edward. He seemed to be avoiding her, but she knew he couldn’t resist making some comment on the state of the saucepan. She was right.
Edward hovering over her shoulder as she stirred the pot,
“Em, of course it’s none of my business, but less heat would save the pot.”
Taking the saucepan off the heat, trying not to make him feel cornered, Maeve went about her business as she addressed him, pouring out the porridge and putting the pan in water to soak,
“Edward, we haven’t really talked about why you like to be here. I mean this house was built long after your time.”
Edward fell for her ploy and answered,
“I suppose it is. I was here in Place Hall, built by Sir Roger Manwood, not a kind man but a godly man. Sir Edward, my master, will build a grand new house, but we use the old Hall, here. And this is the kitchen.” With that he disconcertingly waved his arms through the wall showing Maeve the outline of his kitchen. She understood that it was large, about the size of her home. That would make sense, her pre-war home could be built on some old foundations, even though there would have been no traces of Place Hall by then.
She tried again,
“So your Sir Edward was he Sir Edward Hales?” She was slowly drawing Edward in.
“Yes, yes, of course. Sir Edward Hales, son of Sir Edward Hales and great grandson of Sir Edward Hales.”
Maeve thought they didn’t have much imagination when it came to names. She tried a different tack,
“So was he a Parliamentarian or a Royalist?”
Edward almost exploded,
“Shhhhh, don’t say that, we don’t talk about that. No, no, no we don’t. NEVER!” And with that, trembling from head to foot, he was gone.
Maeve sighed to herself thinking that it was a lot harder to get information from spirits who didn’t want to share it. She was going to see if Ada could give her any tips, then as she thought about it reminded herself that she wanted tips that were actually useful this time.
The sky was beginning to lighten as she took the A2 towards Dover and then joined the A20 to the M20 motorway by Folkestone. She avoided the cross country roads this morning, she hadn’t been back to see if Kamal the Iraqi spirit was still there. She needed to have better control over her gift before trying to sort that one out.
It was a clear run right through, and the light changed as she drove, the stars disappeared as the sky brightened. Maeve wondered what would happen after the Brexit transition was over. Deal, or no deal with the European Union, there would be an impact on the roads around East Kent. Operation stack had not been fun for anyone living around here, with lorries parked on the motorway and traffic delays of up to five hours. That was just with the normal cross channel traffic before anyone had even heard of Brexit. The divisions that Brexit had caused upset Maeve, it made her sad, but regardless of anyone’s politics the practicalities of life for everyone she knew would be impacted. And now with COVID-19 and Brexit, they were a double whammy. For Maeve they brought home the fact that you have to enjoy each moment, of each day, as you live it. There is no knowing what might happen next.
She arrived and parked in good time. The sunrise was beautiful, straight up over the sea, clear horizon with a slight misty haze to provide fabulous colours. The coffee was delicious. Maeve’s photos were perfect. Ada was in sparkling form. Maeve was very glad that she had come over. They were social distancing, and they were in the open air, and this was a business meeting. Regardless of the rules, Maeve would never want to unintentionally infect Ada, so they still kept their distance. Maeve had brought her own cup, Ada filled it from a flask before stepping back. Maeve wondered what life would be like when all this was over, would everyone forget these gestures, and the impact on everyday life, or would we carry on like this as the new normal?
Picking up on their conversation about Edward, Ada said,
“Well, I don’t know. You could fit my knowledge of English history on the back of an envelope. Get Orla, or if Marianne comes back, get her to look it up for you.” Ada drifted from subject to subject as they occurred to her.
“Aren’t they two great girls? You are lucky to have them, and if they do a bit of work for you and feel like part of the team, it helps them too. They are changing from teenagers to full blown adulthood, but it takes a lot longer than you think. One minute they are out changing the world, the next minute they need a hug from Mum. Sure aren’t we just coming to terms with each other? My mother always said people don’t mature till they are forty.”
Maeve said nothing as Ada chatted,
“It might not be that bad but it can be tricky to keep the relationships on good terms as they transition. For one thing you will have to deal with boyfriends, men. Have you thought about that? Sex in the house?”
After a pause as Maeve nodded, considering the prospect.
And Ada added
“..or girlfriends. That’s a point though Maeve, as their mother, somehow you will have to let them know that whoever they bring home, or whatever they do, they will always be welcome.”
Maeve was thinking that hopefully these were issues that she could put off for a bit, whilst at the same time recognising that Ada was spot on. These were things she didn’t know how to deal with and would have to work it out. Maybe she should have a call with Pascal, their father, it would be better to talk it over in person but, needs must, it would have to be another Zoom call. Preferably when neither of the girls were in the house.
To move the conversation on she said,
“Yes, I know you’re right, and I’m not ready, so let me think about it. In the meantime how about I practice subtle relationship management on Edward? I can try dealing with him without being too direct.”
“That’s a great idea. If you are up to it. It hasn’t really worked so far has it?” Ada was never one to hold back on her opinion. Maeve registered this, and without saying anything thought that she might have inherited this trait from Ada which would explain why she didn’t find relationships easy.
Ada went on,
“Actually I have still been thinking about whatever it was you met in the woods. Why don’t you take Orla there with you? She will sense things too. That way with two different perspectives, you can see if you can work out what you are dealing with.”
Then lowering her voice as if she was talking to herself Ada added,
“And if it gets too heavy she can bring you back from the other side.”
The mention of Orla, made Maeve look at her watch,
“I have to dash. I was hoping to get back before Orla woke up. Actually I had already been thinking of bringing her with me to the woods. I thought of it as a time to bond before Marianne gets back. However I’m not sure if I have time this morning, I have a lunch date in town.” It had slipped out before she could stop it.
“A lunch date. When were you going to tell me about this? And with whom, I might ask? And how are you going to manage it in lockdown?”
Maeve wasn’t awake enough to think of any evasive tactics, she knew that she had been rumbled,
“It’s with Steve. It’s business. I didn’t want to say anything because right now there is nothing to say.”
That didn’t stop Ada,
“Oh, he’s such a lovely man. Now why wouldn’t you settle for someone nice like Steve?”
This is exactly why Maeve had not wanted to share the information that they had met again.
Ada was on a roll,
“Of course, I should have guessed you would come across him when you found the body. Yes, yes I can see, of course it’s business. Still you could sharpen yourself up a bit. Refresh the make-up, and maybe get something with a lovely bit of colour from Clothesline. You know, I have a beautiful Charles Jordan scarf that I got from Pam when I moved here, and I still get great compliments. You could do with a bit of juz-ing yourself up. Good for the morale at least.”
Maeve knew that Ada meant well, and maybe indulging in a nice scarf was a good idea, however non-essential shops were shut, so you had to buy online and pick up later. She probably wouldn’t have the time this morning. But Christmas was coming, so still not a bad idea.
“Alright, I will think about it, but you know Christmas is coming…. we will have to talk about that too. But not now. I’m off. I have the prints and I will let you know as soon as they have been safely dropped off.” With that Maeve walked round by the beach to the car park which was still empty