Copyright is held by the author.
BLANCHE LOOKED up as she heard the gravel scrunching in the driveway. The sun was high and she pushed the brim of her straw hat down so it protected her eyes and enabled her to see her visitor.
The immaculate black Mercedes glistened in the sunlight and Blanche thought it somewhat resembled a sparkling hearse, come to cart her away.
“Mum.” Kevin strode purposely towards her with his arms outstretched, his white shirt billowing behind him like the tail end of a comet. “It’s good to see you up and active.”
Blanche smiled. “It’s 11 o’clock in the morning, Kevin. Gardening at this hour is hardly an accomplishment.”
Kevin returned her smile and Blanche noticed the gesture didn’t quite reach his eyes. His visit wasn’t a surprise. He’d become very generous with his time in recent months, ending a decade-long visitation drought.
“I thought I’d take you for lunch,” he said. “What do you think?”
Blanche nodded and resumed pruning the gooseberry bush, the shears making a clip-clipping noise as she tackled the rebellious branches.
Kevin shifted his weight and hoisted his belt over his ample stomach. “So, how have you been?”
“Very well, thank you.” Clip, clip, clip.
He cleared his throat. “And the house?”
“Empty without your father.” Clip, clip, clip.
“I worry about you being here alone.” Kevin’s gold watch made a sharp rattling sound as he waved his arm around. He shook his head. “It’s not safe.”
“Your father’s been gone six months now,” Blanche answered. “I’m getting used to it, and it’s perfectly safe, I had a new alarm installed.” She put the shears down and flexed her fingers.
“Still, have you given my suggestion any more thought?”
Of course she had. How could she not? After all, Kevin had been rather forward during his last visit.
“You really should think about selling. It would be for the best,” Kevin had said with a concerned look, which Blanche didn’t think was anywhere near Oscar worthy. “There’s no sense staying here alone.”
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she’d replied. “I enjoy the space and my garden.”
“The nursing home’s a far better option,” Kevin had insisted.
“I don’t need a nurse. And this is my home.” She’d said. “I’ll consider it.” And she had done, frequently and in-depth, over the past week.
Blanche resumed trimming the gooseberry bush. “Tell me again why you think it would be better, dear?”
Kevin sighed. “Well to start with, you’d have far more company.”
“More company?” Blanche chuckled. “Why, only yesterday morning I played bridge with Darcy and then Elizabeth joined us for lunch. We’re going to the farmer’s market tomorrow.”
She noticed how Kevin’s right eyelid twitched, but he pressed on, undeterred. “Well, the housing market’s more stable than it was this time last year.”
“Don’t you think that if I wait longer then it will continue to recover?”
“It could dip again,” Kevin said firmly, wagging a finger. “They’re still talking about a housing bubble and nobody knows when it will burst. Best to sell now and get what you can, while you can.”
“But what would I do with the money? I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
Kevin smiled and patted her hand. “Don’t worry, Mum, I’ll help you. We should consider putting it into my name.”
He waved his hand dismissively. “Tax reasons. You know. It’s complicated.”
“Tax reasons? I see,” she said. “I suppose downsizing could make sense. I hear it can be therapeutic to get rid of the excess in one’s life.”
As Kevin’s eyes lit up she wondered if he was going to start rubbing his hands together. Instead he put them in his pockets and nodded, his entire body rocking backwards and forwards in agreement.
“Excellent. I’ll find a realtor for you next week.” He puffed out his chest. “I have connections.”
She smiled. “That’s wonderful, dear. I wonder what price range we’re looking at.”
Kevin pulled out a monogrammed handkerchief and mopped his brown. “I’ve done some research and comparisons already. I reckon half a mil, maybe more. If we find the right buyers, the sky’s the limit”
“Goodness.” Blanche put a hand to her chest and touched her locket with Henry’s photograph that had been taken the day they’d moved in. They’d spent the last 50 years in the house, raised their only child in it and it was the place in which Henry had passed away. Home.
“Indeed,” Kevin answered gravely. “It’s a lot of money, a lot of responsibility. But don’t worry. I’ll help you. I’ll handle everything.”
Blanche nodded and patted his arm. “I’m sure you will. Like you said last time, I don’t understand the intricacies of money planning and the, what did you call it, the stick market?”
Kevin clicked his tongue. “Stock market, Mum.”
“Yes, that’s it. Well, you did say it was frightfully complicated, far too difficult for me to understand.”
“That’s why I’ll make all the decisions for you.” He flashed his white teeth. “You can count on me.”
“Wonderful, dear. You can make the first decision right away.” Blanche smiled at Kevin, making sure that this time it was hers that didn’t meet her eyes.
“Oh?” Kevin ran his fingers through his thinning hair and a line of sweat trickled down the side of his head towards his ear. “What’s that?”
“Shall I donate all the proceeds to the Red Cross or Unicef?”