OK, Sarah, so it's more than 500 but who's counting?
he estate agent was uncomfortably close to Beryl, cloaking her in aftershave whilst blinding her with the glint from his shoes, one smartly cuffed arm hovering behind her back, the other gesturing over the fence to the allotment as if thanking an orchestra for their contribution to his concerto.
He plucked his eyebrows, she was sure. No man had eyebrows as neat as that. Bernie would have pruned the hedges with that kind of precision but not his eyebrows. He was gone now but the mark his hands had made on the earth would keep touching her; little seedlings germinating from plants he had nurtured, even the piece of soot that blew down the chimney in the storm would have been because he had lit the fire and sent it off to wait for that moment, timed to fall and remind Beryl that he was still with her.
In springtime, the daffodils appeared, shouting out 'Spring', echoing Bernie's excitement at the list of gardening jobs ahead; she almost expected his hands to rise right up out of that soil and say 'Pull me up dear, I've got work to do' but of course, this never happened. It was just a feeling she had.
Beryl was reluctant to consider moving house, especially so early on in the year. Aware that their décor was old-fashioned and flowery, she hadn't really expected to get a buyer so soon. She was unsure about leaving before the daffodils had reached out of their winter coffins or if their voices may be lost in the wind of change brought about by young, minimalist-loving new owners. Would she still hear them?
The estate agent was still going through his act. He'd made a remark about his girlfriend and her mountain of clothes. He probably had a whole repertoire of little anecdotes to demonstrate the virtues of various features. As he threw his head back laughing loudly, his sparkling teeth were more mesmerising that his sharp wit.
'So, shall we make an appointment for Mr Williams to come and view the property? Where are we? Yes, goodness, I can't believe we're at the end of February already. We have had a lot of interest so it really would be better to get him along pretty soon. A house like this in such a great area is just bound to ....'
'No, it's okay thank you. He's ....'
'Let's go back into the house shall we? We'll get warmed up and I'll give the office a buzz. We can sort out a time to suit you. Any of my colleagues would be more than happy to come out with your husband.'
They turned their backs on the sleeping allotments and headed towards the kitchen. The estate agent ushered her with much grandiose over the threshold. Just as he followed her through, a sudden gust of warmth caught the door from behind him and slammed it shut. At the same moment, the grip on the ceiling of a cold, clammy pancake was loosened and it landed square on the top of his perfectly coiffured head.
The way in which the pancake hit the estate agent implied a speed of impact disproportionate to the momentum you might expect it to have gained travelling from the ceiling. Beryl took the estate agent's silence and obscured vision as an opportunity to slip out of the front door. It wasn't the house for her. It just didn't speak to her in the same way as her old one. The door slammed hard behind her.