Matilde was devoutly religious. She prayed frequently to all the saints – at least to as many as possible. She always prayed the same prayer: Dear Saint N., Please give me a happy life.
Saint Hildegard von Bingen thought that Matilde would look fabulous driving around in a bright pink Volkswagen. And besides, it was a German brand. “I can see her now,” said Saint Hildegard, “and I’m sure it can be arranged.”
But Saint Thomas Aquinas thought that a bright pink Volkswagen was frivolous. “Why not find her a little Italian Vespa? She could run around in that and have no parking problems.”
Saint Katharine Drexel was on another venture altogether. She thought if Matilde had a little cottage by the sea she would have much happiness. “And the view! Can you imagine? Especially if she drove an American Ford.”
Saint Cuthbert had other ideas. “Look into the future,” he said. “Don’t you know about dangerous coastland erosion? Not to mention tsunamis.”
The discussion between the saints in heaven about how best to make Matilde happy went on and on. At times it almost became vitriolic. The saints are not talking to one another. Matilda got nothing, and lived a most miserable life.
The world famous violinist had retired. After years of intense concert after concert, László Jovanović had found a nice cottage near the beach (for walks) and close enough to shops (for convenience). He could play his beloved violin all day (or not) without the pressure of concert preparation.
It’s not that he couldn’t afford a great big mansion by the sea, but he didn’t need it. The little cottage was cosy and much to his liking. And, did I say? it had a rose garden.
Every morning he would get out his second most precious violin and play. (His Stradivarius was safely locked in a bank vault somewhere). It was easy to believe that in the past people would pay heaps of money to hear him play. It was as if the ever-surging sea and his music melded into one. All was good with the universe. Well, it was as if all melded into one until the neighbours complained.
“What’s with the screeching cat next door scratching away? If he must learn an instrument why can’t he play a proper one like a guitar or a banjo? Or even a ukulele?”
László Jovanović never played the violin again. His rose garden was a picture.
A little house. Back a little from the road. On a little hill. Near a little corner. A little door. Two little windows, one each side of the door. A little chimney that sometimes smoked, but the smoke went in, not out. A little path to or from the door; it’s all relative.
No one lived there.
Twice someone knocked. Twice the door opened. Twice a visitor entered never to be seen again. But even more strange: the front doorknob was on the wrong side.
Troy was fascinated. So was everyone. Troy knocked. The door opened. He entered.
Thaddeus was a little sad. Sort of. He’d always, since his early twenties, wanted to own a little cottage with an orchard.
He’d worked hard all his life, but with the price of things – the rent, the groceries, his old car always breaking down – he’d never managed to save enough to get a mortgage for a house. He’d never married, but he wished he’d found that other someone. Sort of.
How he loved, when driving around, to see homes as he passed. That one has an orchard! That one has a lovely vegetable garden! Oh the flowers! How pretty is that old gnarled weeping elm! Look at the garden path with its rose covered gate! That house there’s for sale!
How did the people all have homes like that? How did they get the money? He couldn’t have worked harder if he’d tried. He couldn’t have saved more if he’d tried. He couldn’t have done any better than he did.
And now he was old. These days he was on the pension. Even if he had the money there wouldn’t be the time to see things grow. A mature orchard he had planted would never be his. A lily collection! A herb garden to defy belief! An old gnarled weeping elm! A dove cote!
These days, as he drove passed other’s homes, the hope had gone. Thaddeus was a little sad. Sort of.