“I’m not going in there. Not if there are great, big, ferocious tigers,” Gemma cried.
Eight-year-old Abigail tutted at her younger sister and shook her head.
“Tigers, indeed. Of course there aren’t any tigers. It’s a garden, not a jungle,” she said, folding her arms.
Sarah tried not to laugh. Despite her bravado, Abigail didn’t exactly look keen to set forth into the garden and lead the way.
She sighed. But then, neither did she. She looked from the overgrown garden to the house. Each time she looked at the building, she noticed something else wrong. First she had spotted the chipped paintwork. Then she noticed a tile had fallen from the roof and been left smashed to smithereens on the path. And now she could see that the number two on the door was hanging listlessly, as if it were making up its mind whether to stay put or to leap into the tangled mass of moss, earth, weeds and grass beyond.
Sarah pushed at her eyes with the back of her hand. The tears weren’t going to come. She wouldn’t let them. But it wasn’t supposed to be like this.
“I want to go home to Spain. It’s cold here and there isn’t a swimming pool. I want to go home,” Gemma said, stamping her feet.
“This is home,” Sarah said, feeling the anguish building inside, “this is our house. We lived here before we went to Spain. Our house has been looked after while we were away and now we’re back home.”
“Well, whoever looked after it hasn’t done a very good job,” Abigail moaned.
Sarah shook her head. She couldn’t argue with that. She closed her eyes and eighteen months fell away.
The four of them were standing there: Sarah, Abigail, Gemma and Duncan. Oh, how she needed Duncan now, right now. They were looking up at the house – the house they had cared for and loved for the past ten years. It was perfect. They had worked so hard to get it just as they wanted. And there they were leaving it behind.
“Are you sure about this?” Duncan had said, wrapping his arms around Sarah.
She had looked into her husband’s eyes. She hadn’t been. No, she hadn’t been sure at all when he’d first come home from work and told her he was being transferred to the Spanish office.
But she had seen the fire in his eyes, the passion and the love for his work. She didn’t want to stand in his way. And she loved him. She couldn’t imagine being anywhere other than by his side. She had smiled that day, standing there, staring up at the house.
“It’s only for two years. Then we’ll be back home. Our home. It’ll be just as we left it, you’ll see,” Duncan assured her.
But it wasn’t. Not at all. And she hadn’t even been inside yet. Goodness knows what state that would be in.
She knew they shouldn’t have agreed to let it. She should have stayed here. Everything would be all right if they hadn’t gone to Spain.
Part two next week