‘If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the back garden!’ Millie calls over her shoulder as she walks out the door.
There’s no response. Not that she was expecting one. They’re all watching the telly, eyes wide, jaws slack and hanging. Millie reckons they’re watching one of those trashy reality shows, like the Bachelor or Love Island or something. She’s not interested in finding out.
From the shed she grabs her tools and her kneeling table. She pauses and takes in the prospect: sun peeking over the fence top, splintering light through leaves and reflecting onto the ground. Her heart surges and fills with pride over her creation. A rambling cottage garden with daisies and lavender, camellias and citrus trees, stone pathways and the seat. Her seat; her favourite place. The novel she was reading yesterday is still there, face down, spine curved and beckoning her.
‘Weeding first, Millie,’ she tells herself.
An hour later, she stands and stretches. Her arms reach high, her eyes close. The meditative aspects of gardening has enlivened her, recharged her. The simplicity of nature caresses her and settles its calm all over her. Millie steps towards the seat and her book; her bum lands in the cushioned plushness of the seat.
‘Mum,’ yells Brooke, her eldest. ‘Where’s the milk?’
And with that, she’s brought back to reality. The stress of family life ensures that Millie will never feel serene for lengthy periods.
‘In the fridge!’ Millie shouts. Where else would the milk be?
‘Nup. Not there.’
Millie leaves the seat and the book, storms into the house. Three sets of eyes are still glued to the telly; she doubts they’ve even noticed her. Brooke stands at the fridge, its door wide open and beeping rhythmically: shut me; shut me; shut me.
‘For god’s sake Brooke, shut the friggin’ door!’ Millie screams. Repetitive sounds jangle her nerves.
‘Alright, alright! Jeez.’
Millie steps into the kitchen. Finds the milk on the bench. She hands it to Brooke.
‘Open your eyes next time,’ Millie says as she turns to go back outdoors.
They’re always sorry. But they never change their ways.