11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 19

Next morning, she stood at the rear door of Number 11, gazing out at the space behind. Garden? Yard? She wasn’t sure which to call it.

“Jungle might be a more apt word,” she said as she started to take in the full extent of the neglect.

She’d thought she was there alone, so she jumped when a voice greeted her.

It was Alex. She wondered a moment. Was he the right person on whom to try out her idea? He was a sensible man – an accountant! – and might not be able to take the necessary leap of imagination, for at the moment the area really was a shambles.

In the end she went ahead anyway.

“I’m wondering,” she told him, “about spending the balance of that money I got improving things out here.” She held up a hand, anticipating words of protest.

“I know how it looks right now, but if it was prettied up with a few tubs of plants and maybe a couple of benches and tables, I reckon it could be a nice place for us to have our lunch outside in the good weather, or just sit. What do you think?”

To her surprise, he immediately nodded in agreement.

“I’ve sometimes thought the same when I’ve looked out at it. It gets the sun about lunchtime, and that tree there looks like it’s on fire in the autumn. Beautiful.”

They stood together for a while, trying to name the huge creeper which was doing its best to wrestle to the ground a section of the aged fence, and identify the singer of the birdsong that kept coming to them in tuneful snatches.

Alex seemed so interested that Georgia almost told him about the thoughts she’d had when her grandad had first passed the old building to her – that it would make a lovely house.

Then she changed her mind. Everyone she’d ever mentioned it to had said it was the craziest thing they’d ever heard. She didn’t relish Alex doubting his new landlady’s sanity!

But, heartened by his response to her current plans, she set about consulting her other tenants.

Brett was enthusiastic.

“It’ll be a good background for my photos. Yes, I’m for it!”

And Eloise was, too.

“I could offer outdoor meditation classes! Could we have a water feature somewhere, please? Water’s very calming.”

Jason, the young man from one of the upper offices whom she’d already met briefly, was keen as well, as was a much older chap called Benjamin who also rented upstairs.

Georgia knew that one of them was a website designer and the other a dealer in antiquarian books.

With Jason’s spiky orange hair and T-shirts with profound messages emblazoned across the front, she expected him to be the web designer, while Benjamin, who looked old as the hills and had a long, curling grey beard, must be the book man.

In fact, it turned out to be the other way round.

“Well, that’s Ladysmile Lane for you!” she said when Mel put her right on this.

Harrison, when she sought his opinion, nodded but looked miles away. Well, perhaps that was Harrison for you!

Before plants and furniture could be considered, there was a veritable mountain of accumulated rubbish to shift. Standing at the back door with Mel this time, Georgia shook her head.

“Departing tenants, I suppose, throwing stuff away. Since no-one has ever come outside much recently, it’s just all been left. There are all those brambles and weeds to clear, too. I’ll have to see if I can get someone in to do it. You don’t happen to know anyone, do you?”

“Yes,” Mel replied thoughtfully, “I do.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.