I've been busy with my mind in hundreds of different places, in addition to not finding the necessary quiet to write. I'd opened the doc a few times, but closed it again when inspiration didn't strike. It happens. I'm worried I may lose interest and give up. Then again, I have Mr Obnoxious who's a great character who gives me plenty of material, plus Elaine, who has to heal at some point. And there are secrets to uncover, shock, anger, and other emotions waiting to come out; I just need to overcome my stupid fear of writing. How can someone, who has written seven books--four of them being novel, be afraid of finishing a novel with so much going on? What is it that stirs those feelings in me? I think I'm terrified of the void I'm staring into, every time I open the file to continue writing. I'm literally gazing onto the page, waiting for the film to play in front of my eyes, so I can type what I'm seeing. Does that make sense? In the past, I sat up to two hours in front of the laptop, writing a sentence, delete it, write something else, delete it again; I even wrote and deleted whole paragraphs because they weren't good enough. Anyway, it's going slow, but I'm satisfied with what I have for you today. It's not a lot, but I'd rather have a little good than a lot of shite.
The dining room was filled with laughter and chatter. I looked around and all I could see was a sea of happy faces. The young couple held hands over the table; they didn't seem to notice anyone else. Just when my eyes wandered to the next table, Mr Obnoxious stuffed a large piece of bread into his mouth. Impressive, I thought. One of the girls smeared some gravy on his cheek and the others giggled.
'Oh dear,' I muttered under a sigh. In the back of the room was the elderly couple, who looked content, as if they were watching their children and grand children, patient smiles on their faces. It made me wonder if they had a family, or maybe they opted against kids and had a blast of a life instead? I could imagine it being John and I. Wishful thinking. Before the thought of it could bring me down again, I waved back at Ben who'd spotted me and made my way over to them.
'Oh, I love your jumper!' His red face gave away that he lied.
I grinned and replied. 'Yeah, I finished it last night. I'm so proud of it.'
Ben quickly grabbed his wine glass and noisily swallowed a huge gulp. Ronnie just stared, open-mouthed.
With a dead-straight face I said, 'What, you don't like my precious knit-work? Took me a whole year to get it done. And two years of planning!'
'Of course, of course, it's gorgeous,' Gary's voice was shaking and I could tell he had a hard time keeping it together.
I slumped down into my seat and shook my head. 'All the work and nobody appreciates it.'
That was when Gary burst into a booming laugh. Ben's eyes rolled from left to right to check on me and Ronnie, before joining Gary, and seconds later, we were laughing until we had to wipe our tears. The other tables turned to see what caused the hilarity, but didn't seem to understand. I caught Mr Obnoxious eye, who, for a few seconds ignored the girls, and studied me—head cocked, eyebrow raised. He then winked and that's when I turned my attention back to the company I was with. Did he really think I'd flirt back? Idiot!
Gary tugged at the yellow flower. 'Used a lot of manure to get them this big?'
'This beauty here.' He tugged a little harder.
'No, I drank too much that evening I knitted it.'
'You don't say,' Ronnie was deep red and tried to catch his breath.
'Okay, okay, you caught me. It was a competition for the ugliest present. What can I say, I lost.'
'And you thought of wearing it tonight, because?' Gary asked.
Because I want my husband to be as close as possible today, I wanted to reply. Instead I said, 'Oh it was just a spur of a moment thing.'
'It amuses. So thank you,' Ronnie said and Ben nodded, pressing his lips together; the image of a pressure cooker popped up in my head.
'Well, I aim to please,' I said lightly and filled my glass with wine. When I lifted it up to clink with the guys, I mentally toasted with John, too.
They didn't ask further questions and I was relieved that they swallowed my explanation. Every now and again, either of them tugged at the biggest of all flowers and giggled but, after an hour, the joke became old. Only when Susan came by to replace the two empty bottles of wine with new ones, she grinned and nodded, seemingly recognising the jumper, but didn't say anything. We understood each other and I was thankful for that.
'Jesus, fucking Christ, I'm so stuffed, I'll need a crane to get me out of here,' Gary said, burping behind his hand. 'Excuse me.'
Ben shook his head. 'Manners!'
'It's really delicious,' Ronnie said before shovelling another piece of pork into his mouth.
'Agree,' I said. Susan must have worked days to prepare such a spread. There was roast, turkey, stuffing, carrots, parsnips, sprouts, potatoes, croquettes, potato gratin, gravy, trifle, Christmas pudding with plenty of alcohol and a kids' version, Eaton Mess and plenty more. The room was constantly busy with people refilling their plates. I went to get a seconds of a cheesecake and again wished John would be here.
'So, new year's resolution has to be a lot of walking, then, eh?'
He stood that close to me, I could feel his body heat. 'Way to go with insulting others.'
'Ah, come on, lady, don't take it personally. We're all behaving as if you'll never get to eat again.'
'I didn't know that the food control is watching.' My voice was a tad sharper and I hoped he'd get the drift.