Yesterday evening was lazy and still. I sat in the back garden and listened to somebody somewhere playing tennis against a wall. In Dómhnall’s house next door a radio was turned on and down the road in the hotel, empty bottles were being clink clinked into crates.
I leant back in the wrought iron swing seat resurrected from Aunt Dee’s shed and closed my eyes. This was the life, I thought.
‘Do you know how to make a gin fizz?’ a voice behind me said.
I sprang up and span round.
Dómhnall’s mother was hovering nervously by the back door, a large carpet bag in one hand and a tray of lettuce seedlings in the other.
‘A what?’ I said hesitantly.
‘A gin fizz,’ Dómhnall’s mother said, frowning slightly. Her hair stuck out in odd clumps and she was wearing a bunch of multi-coloured cotton scarves, all wrapped around her neck like a fat serpent.
‘Are you alright?’ I asked. Her face crumpled.
‘No,’ she whispered. ‘That’s why I need a gin fizz.’
So we went into the kitchen and she showed me where Aunt Dee used to keep the silver cocktail shaker and glasses and then she showed me how to make a gin fizz.
Lemon, sparkling water, crushed ice, and gin.
And I have to say, there is possibly no nicer drink to sip on an early summer evening, sitting on a rusting swing-seat with an intriguing visitor you somehow suspect might just become a friend.
‘I’m Clementine,’ Dómhnall’s mother said as we started on our second gin fizz.
‘I’m Dee,’ I said.
‘After her,’ Clementine said simply.
I didn’t tell her what Dee was short for. I couldn’t. Not even my ex-husband knows that.
‘Can I stay here?’ Clementine said. I took a large gulp of gin fizz.
‘Certainly,’ I murmured, wondering what on earth I was saying, a strange burst of excitement blossoming in my chest. ‘A friend of Aunt Dee’s is a friend of mine. And besides, you know how to make gin fizzes.’
And Clementine murmured ‘thank you. Thank you so much.’