The phone buzzed, cycling through a monotonic triad of no answer. In less than a minute, there rang out a definite click and a voice began to speak into Andrea’s ear:
“Hi, you’ve reached Lucas’ voicemail. Please, leave a message. If you’re calling about the advert, please leave your full name, address and phone number, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I am able. Thanks.”
Although the man spoke in a flat, official way, his voice clearly held an accent of the towns and cities a little way North of Lansdale. Andrea smiled; as a British Psychological Society trained student, she was allowed to spot these things. It was cute.
Before she had time to think, a beep like an angry wasp was hitting her and Andrea recalled that she had to leave her name.
Having done so, she hung up. The woman tucked a strand of her hair behind an ear, before engaging the clutch. She had the day off, but now it didn’t seem worth it. Nor did going back to a grey tower-block with windows that faced both oncoming and outgoing traffic.
And people called Lansdale ‘rural’? Maybe compared to some of the larger places such as Swinford, but Lansdale Town itself was quite broad. Here, Andrea lived in a dismal area very unlike her childhood it the outskirts.
There seemed no more point driving through Lansdale town, but Andrea did it anyway, squinting at the buildings she passed, working out the mosaic in her head. The supermarket, the bank, the police-station amongst the multitude of small business and houses that surrounded them.
The city-states whizzed past into a quieter area of the town. On passing the church, Andrea suddenly pulled to a stop. Thank goodness the pastor was welcome to parking anywhere outside his land unless it were a Sunday.
She tiptoed through the neat-kept grounds and the path, along to the rear of the churchyard. Andrea almost caught the heel of a shoe amongst a loose posy, but she shuffled along. Two rows down, she crouched amongst the leaves, beside a gravestone in granite.
In the stone was carved the words:
‘Here lies Mrs. Edith Ford, loving mother taken by cancer’.
“Two years,” muttered Andrea as she smoothed away a tangle of grass and leaves from the headstone. She tidied the mound beyond it, lifting away the dead flowers she had placed there a month previously and twitching a piece of her mother’s knitting. At least, Andrea tried to make the place look cared for, even if she didn’t know how to handle floristry.
With a confident nod, the woman lifted some dying Chrysanthemums and put them down behind the cluster of pink Primroses, so that the two colours blended softly, quietly. What was needed now was some Lilies – blue – but Andrea wouldn’t know where to get them, short of driving to the garden centre between Lansdale and Swinford. That wasn’t going to happen. Not today of all clouded days.
At the sound of footsteps approaching, Andrea blinked away the tears at the corners of her eyes. The minister of the church lent a smile to Andrea as she climbed back up to her feet.
“Good afternoon, Andrea.”
“Good afternoon, Pastor Clark.”
“I hope you are having a good day.”
“As best as I can, thank you.”
“Will I see you at the service this Sunday?”
“Umm…I’m afraid not; I’m out of town visiting a patient…” Andrea frantically searched for some excuse that would keep her from having to listen to the drone of the sermon. The one problem with visiting her mother’s grave had to be this insistence by the pastor that she relive the days in her childhood when the whole family was expected to attend the church for something none of them believed in.
“Of course, Andrea. Remember, you are welcome in any of my services or even to pop around to the cottage for lunch. It is said my wife makes a delicious Pavlova like your grandmother used to.”
“Yeah,” Andrea smiled sadly at his reference. “I still have Grandmother’s recipe if you would like-”
“Oh, no need, but thank you, gentle girl. Mrs. Clark has her own special recipe.”
“That’s lovely. I should get going now.”
“Of course,” the pastor replied. Her clasped at Andrea’s hands, a second too long for her liking, and then waddled off in the direction of his church once more.
Andrea shook her head to clear the clerical buzz that had swept in. Home. That was all that mattered now.