Florence occupied her usual chair on the veranda, its old white bones bleached in the s
un. “I’ve brought you a hat, Florrie,” the staff here was always attentive, “and something cold to drink,” but it wasn’t the same as being home.
The top of the glass was lemon frosted and two straws, one yellow, one green, bobbed in the bubbles. A wedge of orange teetered and ice chinked as the girl set it on the side table.
How had bees the energy to buzz in this buddleia scented torpor?
Florence allowed her eyes to close. She was doing backstroke. The cracking ice cubes became splintering, crystal-underwater bubbles rushing past her ears as her arms butter-flied upwards, backwards, foamed and gushed so that all other sound was subsumed and watery. Her shoulders loosened. Her body relaxed.
She became keenly aware of a high pitched shimmering sound. Her skin tingled like a shiver of sherbet, sour but sharp to the senses and then Saul was there - Saul, like an ocean of golden hair, wagging his tail and panting excitedly.
“Saul? That you, boy?”
Saul put his wet nose to her face and licked her.
“You want a walk? But it’s so hot today.”
He sat and put his head in her lap and she stroked his nose the way he’d liked.
“Tell you what, good boy - later...”
“Florrie, you haven’t touched your drink.” The evening air was cool.
Saul ran ahead along familiar paths. She was home.