We get to the car, I pass him the key and he effortlessly unlocks and lifts the roofbox lid. The one that took a whole lot of huffing, puffing, effing and jeffing for me to sort out the night before. I look on, standing on tiptoes and still barely able to reach. I am starting to hate him, a little tiny bit.
In the end I give up on my ineffectual stretching. It’ll be easier if I just let him get everything out and then the rest of us start to carry it back to Hyacinth. Of course, what I’ve temporarily expunged from my mind about the roofbox is the way I’ve packed it.
Actually, ‘packed’ might be too generous a word. What I’d actually done was put masses of the kids’ clothes and shoes into bin bags, put breakables and electrics into a cardboard box, added a few essentials like coffee and bog roll in one of those big reusable shoppers and then shoved most of my stuff down the sides, squeezing it all in to whatever spaces were left.
It had seemed to make perfect sense at the time, but as the man tugs hard at one of the tightly packed black bin bags, I start to regret it. It’s a mess, frankly. The kind of mess you only ever want to see yourself.
I start to regret it even more when he finally manages to pull the bin bag away, with a grunt of effort. As it pops free, it brings with it a big, squashed clump of my underwear, which promptly scatters around us like an explosion of over-washed cotton being shot from a knicker cannon.
One pair of briefs gets stuck on the car aerial and another is caught mid-air by Nate, who immediately makes an ‘uggh’ noise and throws them on the floor. Jimbo, who has ambled out to see what all the fuss is about, straight away makes a beeline for the pants that Nate has just discarded and gobbles them up into his mouth. He runs away as fast as he can, a disappearing black blur with a limp pair of white undies hanging out of his muzzle.
I screw my eyes up in embarrassment and clench my fists so hard my fingernails dig into my palms.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the summary of my life since David died – incompetent, incomplete and incapable of being even a fraction as much fun as he was. If my knickers had come flying out of the roofbox with him around, he’d have made a game of it. He’d have organised the Underwear Olympics. He’d have had everyone laughing, even me.
Sometimes, at the most unlikely and inconvenient of moments, I miss him so much I could quite happily lie down on the floor and go to sleep for a thousand years. I could use all my old drawers as a blanket and just sleep.
I open my eyes again, as going to sleep for a thousand years simply doesn’t seem to be a realistic option. I see Lizzie, bless her, running around the driveway snaffling spare scraps of underwear from their new homes hanging off bushes and splayed over solar lights, and I see Nate chasing after Jimbo the Knicker Snaffler.
‘So,’ says tall, dark and helpful. ‘I’m Matt, by the way. As I appear to have one of your bras wrapped around my head, it seems as good a time as any to introduce myself.’
I look up at him and see that he is grinning. It’s a nice grin, genuine and playful and from what I’ve seen of Matt so far, quite a find. The lesser spotted Dorset Matt Grin.
I have to grin back, I really do, no matter how dreadful I’m feeling. Because what woman could resist a smiling man with a pair of 36C M&S Per Una bra cups hanging around his ears?Want to read more? Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson is just 99p on Amazon!