Something I have learned from earlier in the week is that fiction is better than real life.
In fiction, the landscape can assist with all manner of emotion, tension and the sense of foreboding. If you read a novel and in chapter one, the sky is dark, there are dollops of grey clouds, swollen and burgeoning with thunder and oceans of rain, the birds have stopped singing, you get a sense of: something bad is happening, or has happened.
In real life, a person’s whole world can split apart but if you look out of the window: everything is much the same.
It may be a sunny day, cloudless and sharply blue, freckles of sunlight dancing on the pavement between fresh green leaves, a warm breeze scattering thoughts of summer, and all seems right with the world. But it isn’t.
Yesterday, minding my own business, typing and deleting chapter one, two police cars tore past my house at speeds hitherto unwitnessed in the history of the village. They were going well over the thirty miles an hour to which the rest of us have become accustomed.
Mid-afternoon, a slightly grey but warm-enough day, and there were sirens screaming along the road and bright blue lights flashing through the frosted windows.
Aimée was walking the dogs, and we know how this goes, we’ve watched TV dramas. It’s always the dog walker who finds something awful in the undergrowth. Thank the lord, nothing quite so grisly. However, she did see that at least one of the police cars came to a halt outside a house, just up the way from me, and she could hear a woman crying.
We don’t know what happened. It doesn’t sound like there had been an accident, because the police don’t use the sirens to deliver bad news.
There must have been a crime, and one which required a rapid response, but if this feels like a terrible intrusion into a personal grief, or even if it sounds like gossip, I should explain.
I was raised to make tea, in times of emergency. I know my way around a kitchen, and can make a lasagne that will last for days in times of trouble, and will defeat a lacklustre appetite.
Through my years at the Legion, I know exactly who is and who is not practical in times of crisis. I know piles upon piles of workmen and chancers, and I like to think I know the difference. I can’t help if I don’t know what happened.
And as I look out of the window today, the world is close to sparkling. The weather is warm, the sky is a deep, social-media blue, the village is quiet and, from the look of things, absolutely nothing has changed.
Of course, there’s every chance that, for somebody at least, everything has changed. Such is the nature of life.
Where’s a storm and purpling sky when I look through the glass in desperate need of a hint?