Dee slumped into her chair on the back porch. She was dog-tired. It had been a long week. The last rays of the setting sun felt very pleasant on her skin. She felt drowsy and soon, she was asleep.
A noise woke her, and she sat up with a start. She looked up into the eyes of a man who had poked his head over the side fence. He had a shaved head, a button nose, and brown eyes behind round-rimmed glasses. He waved a hand and said “Hi. Erm, sorry to bother you…”
She was busting and had to go. She struggled to her feet, cut him off and called, “Sorry, gotta go,” and bolted for the back door. She just made it.
She realised she’d been rather rude, but the need was urgent. She wondered idly what he wanted, but she had only been living there a few months and had no interest in getting friendly with the neighbours, especially a male one with no hair. She had sworn off men since her recent breakup with Simon.
She was hungry and rummaged through her freezer for a frozen meal. She enjoyed cooking as a rule, but couldn’t be bothered tonight. She pulled out a lasagna, stuck it in the microwave and poured herself a glass of red wine. It was while she was sitting at the kitchen table digging into the rather tasteless meal that she heard a noise at the front door. She rose, walked to the door and saw a folded sheet of paper on the floor. She picked it up, debated whether to open the door, and then decided to finish her meal. She read the words on the paper, eyes widening as she took in the message.
It read ‘What I was trying to tell you before was that I saw a large carpet python going under your back porch earlier today. Just thought you’d like to know.’ It was signed ‘Greg from next door.’
She shrieked involuntarily and dropped the note. She hated snakes!
What was she going to do? Meal forgotten, she shuddered when she realised she’d been sleeping on the porch above the snake for ages. By now it was dark. She walked back to the front door, snapped on the front porch light, and then turned it off again. What if light attracted it and it made its way under the house to the front porch? Trying to calm down, she thought, ‘I’ll google it’. The fact that the snake was pretty harmless from what she read, didn’t comfort her one little bit. Maybe bald Greg could help, although she had been exceedingly rude to him, but he had taken the trouble to leave her the note.
She decided she would rather face him than spend all night worrying about where the snake might pop up. She turned on the porch light again, opened the door, and peering fearfully from right to left, fairly ran down the driveway and up next door’s pathway to Greg’s front door. She stood there, heart racing and rang the bell. It opened abruptly, and a small, tousled-haired little girl, about five years old, looked up at her.
“Hello,” she said breathlessly.
“May I speak to Greg please?”
Two bright blue eyes regarded her thoughtfully, and then the little girl turned and bellowed, “Greg! It’s for you!”
Dee couldn’t believe such a loud voice could come out of such a small person. The other thought she had was, ‘She calls her father by his first name.’
Footsteps came down the hallway and Greg hove into view. He was about her height, a bit tubby, wearing a ragged shirt, baggy shorts and flip-flops.
He peered at her owlishly over glasses perched on his nose.
“I’m so sorry about earlier, but I really needed to go…”
She trailed off. He smiled at her, a rather attractive smile that empathised dimples on either side of his mouth.
“That’s ok,” he said.
He looked down at the little girl.
“Did you have to yell so loud? I was only down the hall.”
She smiled sweetly at him.
“But you’re always telling me you’re getting old and deaf and you never hear me when I call you.”
He looked at Dee and shrugged helplessly.
“Come in. The place is a bit of a mess…”
“Oh no,” she protested.
“I only came to ask your advice about the snake.”
He said amusedly, “So you want to go out there again do you?”
She shuddered involuntarily.
“Come on, I’m Amy,” the little girl said, taking her by the hand. Dee allowed herself to be dragged down the hallway into a large family room, containing a shelf laden with books, two couches, a rectangular table and chairs and a huge flat screen television on one wall.
Greg gestured, “Grab a chair. Would you like a drink?”
She shook her head and said diffidently, “I should introduce myself. I’m Dee.”
She paused, and he said, “Yeah, well, you know I’m Greg and this is Amy.”
Amy regarded her silently for a moment, then said, “You’re very pretty. Would you like to marry Greg?”
The adults stared speechlessly at her, then each other.
Greg found his voice.
“Pumpkin, we don’t know each other. We’ve only just met, and you’ve just embarrassed Dee…”
Amy turned to her.
“Your not embarrassed are you Dee?” she asked.
She struggled to respond.
“Oh no, but your Dad’s right. We’ve only just met.”
“Greg’s not my Dad, silly. He’s my uncle and he’s the best uncle in the whole world. He looks after me when Mum’s at work. My Dad’s in the navy.”
The adults looked at each other. Greg looked into her grey-blue eyes. She had full red lips, a heart-shaped face and a beautiful hourglass figure. He didn’t stand a chance, he thought sadly. Girls like her didn’t go for guys who looked like him.
He smiled painfully.
“You wanted to know about the snake. I’ve got a friend who’s a snake catcher. I’ll call him if you want and he’ll come out. He’ll find it and you won’t need to worry anymore. If you like, I’ll escort you home. It’s unlikely to come into the house so you’ll be pretty safe.”
She was strangely reluctant to leave. Somehow, she already felt safe in this house, with this precocious little girl who wanted her to marry ‘the best uncle in the world.’
She had had worse offers, she reflected, and looking at Greg, said, “If it’s ok with you, I’d like to stay, and I wouldn’t mind a drink.”
Greg blinked at her, then looked into those grey-blue eyes and he knew he was gone. He had no idea where this was going to go, but he knew he would always regret it if he didn’t travel down that road to find out.
“What would you like?”