Steph huffed but her huffing never lasted long. In her pyjamas, she stormed through the woods before turning round, and with her energy sapping, she walked back to the cottage.
She wasn’t sure what she was going to say Lori. Whilst Steph wasn’t angry any longer she still felt alone. A large log provided her with a seat and she sat, holding her head. Tears appeared out of nowhere and she sobbed. There was no real definition to her feelings she didn’t know what she felt or why. This week had brought home that she was going to lose her husband but she was supposed to be happy for the person they became., She didn’t want Nick to be miserable but she wanted her life back. A life where the only real concerns were paying the bills, caring for the kids and getting through the day with her fibromyalgia.
“Are you all right, my dear?”
Oh God I’ve been caught. She wiped her face with her hands and her arm and looked up at the old lady standing there. A watery smile was the best she could manage and she nodded. “I think I am. I lost my husband...”
The woman looked fitter than Steph had been and attired in hiking gear, the old lady sat down next to her and placed her arm round her. A Westie ran up, sniffed Steph’s feet and ran away again, sniffing at the undergrowth. “That’s Tommy, I got him when my husband died. He’s such a comfort to me. You’re so young, dear - do you have children?”
People often thought Steph was younger than she really was. She nodded. “Three.” None of them felt they had lost a dad, at least she didn’t feel that way.
“Are you staying with the other nice lady at the cottage?” She smiled. “I run the Post Office and she came in earlier. Really kind.” And then in a conspiratorial way she whispered. “I think she’s one of those.”
All Steph could do was swallow. She nodded. “Lori is...” Jesus, what do I call her? “My friend. She is very kind.” It was the term her dad used for his myriad of lovers. They were always just his friends even the ones he’d had around for twenty years. Friend felt wrong to apply to Nick but she didn’t know Lori and Lori wasn’t Nick in a dress. Lori had a personality that was distinct from Nick.
“Are things all right... well you know financially?”
Steph nodded. “My husband well he is still providing for us.” That was true. She stood up before she was asked any more awkward questions. “I ought to be heading back. The children are... well they’ll be wanting breakfast. Thank you for your concern.”
The older lady stood up and held out her hand. “My name’s Cynthia. If you need anything please come down to the Post Office.”
“Thanks, Cynthia.” The brief encounter had helped Steph gain some perspective and she trudged back to the cottage. She walked into the kitchen. Sweet smells and laughter greeted her.
Round the table Lori sat with Jake and Luke, they were playing Monopoly. A stack of pancakes sat in front of each of them. Lori gave her a shy smile. “Want to come and join us? The pancakes are everything free. And I put out some agave syrup for you.”
Steph nodded. She got herself a plate and sat down. “I’ll be the top hat if no one else wants it.” She peeped under the table. Lori was wearing the pink hiking books that Steph had put in the welcome to womanhood box.
Lori winked and mouthed, “Sorry.”
"Best Possible Taste" is very loosely based on real life events.