Eve awoke to a room full of sunlight. A fresh morning breeze lifted the muslin curtain then dropped it playfully as it rippled through the material. She had slept well and yet she felt as if she could lie there all day. The past few days had been emotionally draining and trying to replace the unexplainable void was going to be challenging to say the least. She found herself wondering what type of day Rosemary would be facing and asking God in a silent prayer if he would make sure she was protected and rewarded for bringing so much into Eve's life. The sapling of an idea had begun to sprout its branches, firmly rooting within her thoughts. For now it had to be quashed as she prepared to face her day. The birds’ morning song in full chorus and the smell of pancakes was more than enough to entice her downstairs. Throwing back the bedcovers, she yawned and stretched. Her previous night’s sleep was still playing a collection of visions into her mind. None of which made much sense to her, yet. ‘Good morning sleepy head,’ greeted Richard in his usual chipper manner. She could not help but smile as she noted all he was wearing was a black and white frilly satin apron. His manly jewels were pronounced against the flimsiness of the satin. Noticing her eye line, he blushed with delight. ’Come and sit down, I have a surprise for you.’ Taking her arm he glided her over to the cosy breakfast kitchen. Sitting her down, he opened her napkin and placed it over her lap. Hot crumpets with her favourite butter, some scrambled eggs and tea in a fine china cup, were laid before her hoping she approved. As his strong hands massaged her shoulders, she tipped her head to the side so she could feel his fingers against her face. ‘This is lovely’, she confirmed in a restrained manner. Allowing no more time to pass he sat next to her and pushed a sealed envelope to the side of her breakfast plate.
Her eyes widened with excitement as she set about opening it, reading with intense concentration she discovered it was the printed details of a weekends break to her beloved La Nucia in the Costa Blanca. Each line revealed the exciting itinerary and confirmations of a fabulous farmhouse. Throwing her arms around his neck she thanked him for knowing that this was something she really needed right now. ‘Wow, you have arranged all of this, this morning? You have been busy. When do we go?’ she said scanning the papers again and again. ‘We don't but you do, my darling. You go next Friday morning for three nights. I want you to soak up all that is magical about your time there and bring back a renewed sense of who you are and what you have to do.’ Placing his hand on her face he told her he would miss her like crazy and would be desperate for her return. He stroked the delicate skin on her cheek and reassured her that he felt it was right that she had some time alone. Sometimes Richard spoke in riddles - as if he were some kind of prophet from future times. His ability to make sense of things and create a vision of the future was almost unique amongst men. His belief in her knew no bounds and his sense of timing was impeccable. This gift would be treasured. She felt as if she was about to embark on a journey where revelations were to adorn her like an armour and prepare her for something quite profound. Was this to be the unravelling of the conundrum that was marching noisily in her mind?
Her flight was on time and her new best seller carried her to Alicante airport where a Renault Clio was waiting for her to collect. Studying the exact location of the farmhouse she was pleased to see it was close to her favourite La Rambla bar. On their week away together the previous autumn, Richard and she had spent many a happy a night in there soaked in the delicious home-made sangria. Although she was adamant that she wanted keep free of any hangovers she did promise herself that she would call to see how they were doing. Taking to the Spanish motorway the car almost drove itself as she knew the route off by heart. Passing signposts for Villajoyosa and Benidorm she smiled at thoughts of wonderful moments spent with friends in each respective town. The winding road out of Finestrat led her to idyllic La Nucia. With only a sprinkling of properties there was a real sense of the countryside. As vivid colours took her eyes in many directions her heart felt as if it was home. Arriving at the white finca she was met by Klaus who handed her a set of keys and gave her the briefest of tours. Wishing her a wonderful stay he told her where to leave the keys on her departure and with that he was gone. Unpacking her things she noted Richard had added some vital supplies -teabags, coffee, coffee whitener and a packet of her favourite biscuits were lovingly wrapped in a bag and towel. Accompanying them was a handwritten note declaring his love and a little poem expressing how much he would miss her. She held it to her chest and sighed. She felt totally loved. Opening some windows she tried to let in as much Spanish sunshine as possible. The veranda was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a much needed coffee and after a quick shower she lounged idly outside allowing the country air to seep through her every pore. The finca was set back from the road and enjoyed quite an elevated position. Apart from the occasional cockerels cry and chorus of bird song there was nothing but silence. Sheer bliss!
Enjoying the time and freedom for reflection, her lighter thoughts were soon drowned by the idea that kept turning over and over in her mind. Rosemary’s face became a clear vision as did the initial sadness in her eyes. ‘What can I do to help?’ said Eve out loud. Not only was it daunting but surely not something she could possibly instigate? Why was this message burning so poignantly throughout her veins, like lava rushing to fill every empty crevice bringing with it chaos yet making itself known and unable to be ignored. Tapping a pen onto the table, she began picturing several options. She then started to jot some key words into her diary thinking she could leave it at that until she got home. That wasn't to be. The shoots of ideas began to take her mind’s path on many journeys. One thing was for sure this was past the point of consideration. Maybe she could raise awareness in some way for all the unsung heroes - a charity event to launch the Eve’s Good FEW foundation? She laughed at her ambition, dismissing thoughts as easily as they came to her. Yet something was not allowing her to quash this anymore. It was a concept that was breathing life into her and suddenly she felt totally inspired - but was she capable of such a challenge?
As eventide stole away the last of the day’s glory she decided to dress for dinner. Adopting a very casual style of maxi dress and gladiator sandals she walked to one of her most favourite places on earth. Soon the enticing glow of La Rambla came into view and as she approached it appeared as welcoming as ever. Pushing open the old wooden door she breathed in many past memories. A shriek of ‘Hello’ was heard from the corner of the bar as Petra recognised her. She hurried to embrace Eve asking how she had been and the whereabouts of Richard. The two women chatted excited and laughed at their many impromptu karaoke performances inspired by far too much Sangria. Tears started to fall down Eves cheeks as they remembered ‘Sergio’ the Russian male stripper and his rather large ego. ‘Oh I have had some of the best times of my life here with you and Helge’ reminisced Eve with a strong conviction. With that he appeared as if on cue. He was quite a stern looking German man that did a more than passable Barbara Streisand impression for the right audience, which for Helga was any group of three or more people even vaguely looking in his direction. She remembered liking him the day she met him, which was rather unusual for her. They just clicked. His sexuality had no importance to her and his large, clumsy frame in women’s clothing did not offend her. She loved him in fact. His eyes showed genuine delight as he held her with such an innocent sincerity. Camping his way back behind the bar he began mixing up the dreaded poison. ‘I will join you for a couple of glasses but I don't want any hangover’ she said realising he wasn't paying a blind bit of notice and resigning herself to the fact she was with dear friends and her swelling heart was grateful to be with them once more.
The following morning was marred by foggy after effects of Helge’s homemade sangria and surprisingly vivid memories of her singing ‘dontcha wish ya girlfriend was hot like me’. Groaning to herself she placed her head underneath her pillow to shield her from the awakening sun. As much as she wanted to hibernate for the day she didn't want to waste one precious moment of her time there. Reluctantly, she forced herself to head off to the shower. The massaging motion of the water helped wash away some of last night’s alcoholic sedative and the smell of orange zest in her body wash brought her senses back to life. She had loved every minute of last night. Some people travel to Lourdes for miracles or visit the Taj Mahal for inspiration but for her La Rambla was the only temple she needed. It was so spiritual and being with such special people was magical. Now feeling more alive, she dressed whilst dancing along to Mayer Hawthorne and Rizzle Kicks. Their light hearted ditty placed her in a much better mood. Make-up lightly applied and hair twisted up and secured with several clips she set off for Albir. Realising she would be over the limit to drive she decided to walk into town. The morning was beautiful. With its rustic charm, La Nucia resembled a town from some old Western. She half expected to see Clint Eastwood riding through the wide open spaces between the cacti which accompanied her as she strolled down the winding road. With little to occupy her mind, her previous demons returned to haunt her as she walked – prodding her every thought, questions repeated themselves over and over in her head. George Michael’s music on her iPod soothed her soul and held her hand as she took her step back in time. He had the ability to hit every emotion and make her stronger. His sexuality meant nothing to her. He was her musical soul mate and by the time she reached Albir, Cowboys and Angels had lifted her spirits and she was strong again. Ideas began to form and soon everything seemed to fall into place. She knew exactly how she could help people like Rosemary. She was so excited to return home and tell Richard exactly what she wanted him to do.
Albir was exactly the same as the last time she was there. Apart from several shops closed because of the recession it was as vibrant as ever with its fusion of Dutch, British and Spanish sun seekers. The pavements were strewn with mismatched chairs and brightly coloured parasols to protect people from the mid-day sun. Small pampered dogs were placed on cushions, each sat faithfully at their owner’s side to be fed the complimentary biscuits that accompanied every cup of coffee sold. Newspapers in many languages were enjoyed and discussed with friends and strangers were welcomed regardless of nationality or status. Eve sat outside her favourite cafe and ordered a Tia Maria with ice and a coffee. The owners were a Dutch couple and their language skills put hers to shame. They would speak with her in English to welcome her and ask how she was then change tongues to speak fluent French for a visiting couple sitting at the table next to her. There was a constant sound of conversations yet it seemed so peaceful. Closing her eyes she gratefully allowed the sun to kiss her face. The warmth was welcome and seemed to cradle away the remainder of her hangover, leaving her feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world. Wandering around the shops she bought a few curios and then couldn't resist the call of the designer dress shops. Armed with several bags she hailed a taxi and relaxed as the scenery carried her back to the farmhouse.
The next day was spent helping an old Spanish couple to collect fruit off their trees. Richard would call her a big softie if he could see her now, she thought, but she couldn't bear to see them struggle. She had passed their house on the way for her Sunday paper and noticed they were in their eighties. On her return journey she saw how their actions were staggered and with the universal use of sign language she pointed to the trees, the baskets and her to gesture she would help. ‘Si si’ they nodded enthusiastically. The old lady delighted in showering her guest with refreshments and homemade magdalenas. They worked well as a trio and even the grumpy old man managed a few smiles around the ‘crazy English woman’. Although not much was said there was a sense of unity and acceptance between the three of them. She felt quite sad when she had to leave and wished she could help them tomorrow too but she would be flying back to her beloved Richard and nothing was more important to her than that. The old woman hugged her with a strong sincerity, thanking her for making light of such a strenuous task. With the fruit all neatly packed in worn out baskets they lined up against the wall ready for collection. The old man shook her hand firmly and his coarseness softened as his eyes recognised she was indeed a good Samaritan. Words were not needed as they all said heartfelt goodbyes. Driving away she waved her final wave and went home to pack.
The plane landed on time and her pretty face broke into a smile as she saw it was raining. She was quite excited at the prospect of the cooling rain against her sun soaked skin. Getting through immigration seemed to take forever and as she emerged into the arrivals hall she scoured the crowd for Richard’s face. Armed with the most beautiful bouquet of lilies he ran to hold her. Kissing as if they had been apart for months she melted in his strong arms. She had missed him terribly. He breathed in the scent of her hair as if his life depended on it. She was indeed his oxygen. Wrapping his arm around her shoulders he listened to her tales of sangria, siestas and fruit picking. She was so alive and full of new ideas about what they should do to help others. Her enthusiasm washed over him and he became as determined as her. How he loved her.