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Lizards and Old Slippers

21 May

 

 

Washing the dishes and there he is again, skittering up the sink and under the dish rack. He thinks I don’t see him, same as do the rest of his reptilian friends and family in residence here in my villa. They dart around the place and sometimes have the cheek to stand and stare. But they were here first, the lizards, and will be here long after I’ve gone; for they belong here, in the tropics with the banana and palm trees, the noisy frogs and cicadas, torrential downpours and steamy hot nights. They are a friendly presence, chuckling amongst themselves as I fall asleep to the hum of an electric fan, doused in mosquito repellent.

Strange really, being here. Not where I imagined myself a decade ago, fifty something, walking the dog around the village back home, navigating icy winter roads across the English countryside to work, returning, tired in the dark to the little brick house on a hill, where the evening commenced, a shared meal and the day’s happenings discussed. Like old slippers; we were comfortable and settled.

Then at the village pub one night all aglow with warmth from the blazing fire and the company of other old slipper couples; neighbours since the year dot, laughing as you do with old and trusted friends, I saw something. Like a skittering lizard, so quick you’d think it wasn’t there. But it was; a glance between them, the flicker of an intimate smile, a betrayal.

So there it was; the life changer. Two trusted people conspired to hurl me into an abyss of hatred and self doubt.

Writing on my veranda at twilight, with a bright full moon peeping through palm leaves and the distant echo of an exotic melody, with the chuckling lizards and friendly frogs who hop in and out of the villa, I feel only gratitude that I perceived the almost unperceivable that cold night in the village pub.