Clement takes a look real close in the mirror at his pale skin, tiny black points coming pricking through on his chin again. Dang that razor, and that there interfering besom, his mater, thinking she can still tell him how to wash his smalls. After all this time, him being married three times and all, he sho’ knows how to look after his own clarts without no dame telling him what’s what. But he sho’ wants to look his best when she appears on that thar box. He has just enough of time to scrape them ole tacks off his throat afore their reg’lar chinwaggin session.
A similar ritual is occurring four and a half thousand miles away across the pond, and some. How tiny is small town earth in the twenty-first century, and a lady of a certain age, also twice married but now decidedly single, presses black honey almost by Clinique onto her ageing lips, and blushes her cheeks unnecessarily, but for it makes her feel young. For young she isn’t. In fact approaching sixty fast makes the earth tilt a little. And much as her house isn’t rambling (a neat and tidy new build semi-detached with pure white walls throughout, a loft conversion and a conservatory that she tried to fill with cats) it’s far too big for her now her only son has flown the nest.
Ever since Jesus visited her in the guise of a floating baby in her early twenties after some extravagant adolescent wildness, she has been a vigorous evangelist, eschewing the evils of that past life to embrace the healing power of the Lord in a hired hall twice a month with Pastor Marigold. And since then, with much laying on of hands, the Lord has sorted out some worrying tax affairs, fixed her broken boiler, and now sent her a like-minded fiancé, albeit hundreds of miles away. How wonderful!
Since learning how to pick out a bargain in the thrift stores, she has a certain kind of glamour, but the sapphire silk knee length at the school reunion didn’t quite bring in the right type of suitor, nor did the holiday with two BFFs in the Hebrides, nor did the earnest conversation till three in the morning with the newly divorced and slimmer version of a friend of a friend of a friend at her former sixth form bezzie’s oddly cannabis laced party in a notable cathedral city in the north. But the Lord works in mysterious ways. And compelled to visit a Christian lonely hearts website, she found dear Clement.
Now she is lipsticked, rouged and foundationed, she is ready to roll. She never bothers with a backdrop, just puts the laptop on her knee sitting on the sofa in the lounge and awaits the breathless moment when she can see Clement’s nervous smile at least seven seconds after it has moved on to his cheeks. She can see him peering into his screen wondering what he has done to deserve this veritable angel at his time of life. She hardly dares to move as she sees his image flicker and buffer, and he spends several minutes just staring at this vision of beauty.
She has never been adored like this. She too peers at the screen and notices a window in the background. She has already spent two weeks in his cabin and knows that the rest of her life is in that screen, beyond that window.
If y’all can be born agin once, y’all can be born agin twice. Doan you forgit it, li’l lady.