by Jenny Palmer
a cup of Assam tea
Terry went fell-running whenever he and Amy rowed. It had been happening rather a lot these days. Running was a good way of working off the surplus energy and it helped him restore his presence of mind.
Recently he’d written an article exposing the evils of social media and how the tech giants had got too powerful and were manipulating people into buying products they didn’t really want or need. He’d gone on to criticise the ethos of sharing as a way of creating a better world.
‘You’re such a pessimist,’ Amy had said. ‘Glass, half empty, that’s you.’
‘Well, I am a journalist,’ he’d said. ‘So, I’m in the business of bad news. And anyway, what happens if social media gets into the wrong hands? Any old despot will be able to control our lives. 1984 here we come.’
Their arguments always ended up the same way. They both took up extreme positions. These days they found it hard to be in the same room together.
After writing his latest article Terry had been on the receiving end of a load of hate mail. Some Internet trolls had been threatening to do all manner of nasty things to him. He would need to stay out of the house for some time to get the images out of his head.
His mobile pinged. It was Amy.
‘It’s a miracle,’ she said. ‘They’ve started getting the boys out.’
‘Not that again,’ he thought. ‘Clinging on to false hope.’
‘I don’t believe in miracles,’ was the last thing he’d said before he left.
‘Have it your way,’ she’d replied.
‘Don’t you think it is a little bit ridiculous the way everyone is glued to the box watching a rescue attempt on the other side of the world,’ he’d said. ‘They’re pinning all their hopes on this one event. Realistically, what difference will it make to their lives?
‘There you go again,’ she’d said. ‘Ever the rationalist. You’re such a killjoy. I suppose you’d rather we all worried about the state of the world 24/7.’
‘Well, I don’t have to remind you that there is a summit meeting taking place soon between two of the world’s superpowers who just happen to own ninety percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. I should have thought that was cause enough for some concern,’ he’d quipped.
‘Trust you to focus on something like that,’ she’d said.
He’d left the house then. There was no use pursuing the conversation any further. They’d only end up rowing all night. This way he’d might be able to salvage something of the evening
Since his article had come out, he’d been on the receiving end of a load of hate mail. Some Internet trolls had been threatening to do all manner of nasty things to him. He hadn’t been able to get the images out of his head. He needed to get out into the open air. He needed to mull things over.
There was one thing about Amy. She always saw the good in everybody. She’d seen the good in him, when his life was at a low ebb. There was a time when he hadn’t been able to make his rent payments and was virtually living out of his car. She’d taken the trouble to get to know him and had encouraged him in his writing.
‘Write about your situation,’ she’d told him. ‘Write about what it’s like to be one of the working homeless.’
It was Amy who had helped him turn his life around, he knew that. They were living together now, and he had a job with prospects. So how come she had such a low opinion of him suddenly? It was probably his own fault. He shouldn’t have brought his work home. She didn’t want to hear him banging on all day about the problems of the world. She was starting to see him in a negative light. He was the bringer of bad news, so he was tarnished with the same brush. Somehow or other, he needed to change her perception of him.
He hadn’t told Amy this, but he was just as interested in the rescue attempt as she was. He had been following it on his laptop when he should have been working. He had witnessed that very moment when the divers had first discovered the boys, clinging to the ledge above the rising flood waters. He had shared in their joy, and then their fear of the risks involved in getting them out safely. He knew it involved the men swimming through mud-filled waters, clambering over slippery rockfaces and squeezing through narrow, jagged crevices, all in the pitch black. He didn’t want to miss seeing the boys come out. He texted Amy back to say he was on his way home. He would join her in the living room, so they could watch the drama unfold together.
Later that evening they both marvelled as the rescuers brought the first of the boys to the surface.
‘I told you it was a miracle,’ said Amy.
‘Well, I put it down to human agency myself,’ he said. ‘It took courage and human ingenuity, combined with precision planning and teamwork to pull that off.
‘Call it what you like’, she said, ‘but we could do with more of it in the world.’
And on that they were agreed.
About that author
Since she returned to Lancashire in 2008, Jenny Palmer has self-published ‘Nowhere better than home’ a childhood memoir about growing up in rural Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s, its sequel ‘Pastures New’ about the heady day of the 70s and 80s and a family history called ‘Whipps, Watsons and Bulcocks: a Pendle family history.’ More recently, in June 2018, her collection of short stories ‘Keepsake and other stories’ was published by Bridge House and is available on Amazon.