My Daft Boyfriend
Iam going up after him,” Jack called from the bottom of the garden – just before he sneezed. “Achoo!” He fished out his hankie and blew his nose.
In sweet September a stray sneeze could feel very poignant to Ellie. She abandoned her job of snipping off dead flower heads in the border and charged down the lawn.
She found Jack tilting back his head and squinting up into the boughs of the old ash tree.
“I can’t just leave him, can I? He’s been up there all day.”
She gazed up too. “He loves climbing. He’s a cat, it’s what cats do. He gets down himself usually.”
“Even so… he still might be stuck for all we know.” True. Although normally Sylvester could climb upwards, sideways and backwards, he might have lost his nerve this afternoon.
Jack SHUFFLED backwards so that the CAT would FOLLOW him
“What’s your plan then?” Ellie asked Jack. “You do have one, don’t you?”
Is he worried about falls and broken bones? Have all the consequences of this passed him by? Ellie wished she could blame all her shallow breaths on the pollen floating about the lawn.
“I’ll climb my ladder up to the branch he’s on,” Jack said. “I promise I’ll be careful.” he added. “Honest.”
“I hardly call that a plan. Maybe you need to… to..…”
Too late, he charged off to get everything organised.
As soon as Jack set his big metal ladder against the tree’s wide trunk, Ellie took a good hard grip on its sides. “I’ll hold it steady for you.” She watched as up the rungs he climbed.
“Come on, Sylvester. Come here!” he called when he stood at eye-level with the right branch. “He’s not moving. I’m going to have to go and get him.”
Jack stretched up, took a good grip then, monkey-fashion, clambered into the leaves. Settling himself astride the bough he wriggled down it.
“Sylvester. Come on. Come here.”
The beige blob that was Sylvester did actually edge closer. As he did so, Jack shuffled backwards again so the cat would follow him. At the point where the branch met the tree he peered down.
“What are you going to do now?” Ellie called. “You can’t carry Sylvester and get back onto your ladder, can you? You don’t have
He’d given her a KITTEN even though he was ALLERGIC to cats
enough hands. I knew this was a bad idea.”
“Achoo!” A sneeze echoed alarmingly through the greenery.
No, this was not a good month for stray sneezes… and bad ideas. They stirred up too many memories of laptops… and of Sassy-Girl981.
In September two years ago, Ellie had moved into Jack’s house. While he was out she borrowed his laptop, hers having overheated in an unseasonally hot spell. Jack hadn’t logged out of the social media site he used as a homepage. She gawped at what had gone on between him and Sassy-Girl981.
“I wasn’t flirting with her at all.” He’d looked sheepish and ill-at-ease when he returned home and she’d confronted him. “It was just… just silly banter.”
“You didn’t think, did you?” Ellie had replied in numb disbelief. “It didn’t even occur to you that I’d think you were all set to cheat on me. You never think, do you, Jack?”
She could so easily have walked out on him. She very nearly did, too.
Now, up in the branches he yelled down, “It’s all right. I know what I’m doing.” Leaving Sylvester behind, he clambered back down onto his ladder. Once anchored to a rung with one hand, he reached up and, like a mother cat, plucked the cat off the tree by the scruff of his neck. Then, with one arm still braced through a rung, he managed to get Sylvester tucked up under his arm. What a circus act!
“Achoo!” He sneezed yet again as he descended. “He’s fine. He’s all right. And so am I.”
Safely back on the lawn, he handed Sylvester over.
September, a stray sneeze, a plan, and now a cat… memories piled up. The day after the discovery of Sassy-Girl981 and their first major row, Jack had presented Ellie with a tiny ball of fluff.
“He’s a peace-offering,” he’d said like a remorseful child rather than a 23year-old. “I know how much you’ve always wanted a cat.”
She’d quivered – and so had the kitten in her arms.
“But you’re allergic to cats, Jack. That’s why I can’t have one. He’ll have to go back. You didn’t think of all the consequences, did you? Yet again!”
Jack hadn’t looked ashamed or guilty this time. He’d smiled instead.
“Actually, I did. That’s why I searched everywhere for a Balinese. I did some research, you see. I found out they’re more hypoallergenic than other cats. I’ve also stocked up on antihistamines, just in case. I know what I’m doing here, Ellie. Let me say I’m sorry this way. Please. Let me prove you can trust me to think things through. I won’t hurt you ever again, I promise.”
Now, in the garden under the ash tree, Jack stroked Sylvester’s head. “I couldn’t let anything happen to him, could I? It would break your heart… and mine.”
Ellie did take great comfort from days like these, full of stray sneezes… and cats. She did occasionally still worry Jack would slip back into his old ways but he had proved he’d much rather keep his all promises to her. She’d keep all her promises to him as well – including the one she’d made to marry him in two weeks’ time.
She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Do you know what you are, Jack?” It wasn’t as if she hadn’t asked him before.
He looked very pleased with himself. “I’m your man with a plan, Ellie.”
And what a wonderful plan it had turned out to be.