‘It is just some stupid wall!’
‘It’s not some stupid wall, it is a wall on my land.’
The dispute, over several years, and the wall had been knocked down and rebuilt three times already. Her neighbour, Walter, ignored all the warnings, and today they were going to court.
‘Why don’t you just talk to him? I mean, you got along once.’
‘That was before he decided to build an eight foot wall in my back garden. I mean who does that? I can’t see the view of the fields any more. I loved that view, he knew that!’ Her blood carried the old anger around her veins until they were on the verge of popping.
‘Mum, this court case is costing a fortune, and I think you two need to talk. I mean do you want the lawyers to take all your pension. Please, Mum, he used to be your friend. You went out together, and then, overnight, you build imagery walls as well as real ones.’
A knock on the door, and Maurine shrugged her shoulders. It couldn’t be the taxi, they would send a text. It couldn’t be Tom, they hadn’t spoke in years. Her daughter answered the door, and minutes later a younger version of her neighbour stood in the doorway.
‘Mrs Watkins, Maurine, can I have a word?’
He looked different to the awkward teenager, who used to kick his ball into her garden. How long had it been? Ten years, maybe more. He resembled his dad in so many ways.
‘If you’re here to persuade me . . . ‘
‘I want to explain, about Dad, I mean, can I sit down.’
Maurine gave the briefest of nods.
‘Can you sit with Dad? I don’t want to leave him alone.’
Charlie set an arm on his shoulder, and she left the room. Maurine didn’t want to be persuaded to change her mind, but there was something about his expression she couldn’t quite understand.
‘Dad, he has Alzheimer’s. I only found out this week, when he rang me out of the blue. He thought we were still speaking, and I thought he was reaching out. Once I spoke to him, I understood. In the last week, we’ve seen doctors, and . . . please can you stop this court case. You haven’t the money, he certainly hasn’t.’
‘I . . . I’m sorry about, I mean . . . how long?’
‘I don’t know, but he’s been building a wall in his mind for a long time. The doctor said, because he has been alone . . . he talked about the wall, and said it was because you wanted a barbecue built, but he just kept on going.’
‘I’ll go speak to him, I’m so sorry . . . I mean, of course I will stop the lawsuit.’