‘You’ve done it up ever so nice, Shaz.’ Mia was admiring Sharon’s gothic-themed garden. Sharon smiled, sipping her tea as they stood at the kitchen door.
‘Well, I like it,’ she said. ‘I’ve still got to get a skip: get rid of the rest of that stuff.’
‘Oh, yeah. Didn’t Lee want it?’
Sharon shrugged. ‘Didn’t seem to. He’s not been in touch. Probably living with his floozy.’
‘He didn’t even tell you where he was going?’ Mia was incredulous. Her Hayden would never have just cleared off and left all his precious tools.
‘Nope,’ said Sharon. ‘Come and have a proper look.’ They both put their mugs down.
There was a small, wooded area at the end of the lawn. A winding path had a pond on one side and a fog machine had been rigged up, casting an eerie atmosphere over the black water.
‘I suppose Lee wouldn’t have liked this much,’ said Mia.
‘Nope. Too interested in his man cave. Gawd knows what he did down there. I got that garden centre to do me a quote for the main landscaping.’
‘They did a good job. I love it!’
‘I’ve still got to empty the man cave or set fire to it or something!’ They both laughed.
‘What did he do down there?’ said Mia. Sharon shrugged.
‘Oh, what’s that over there?’ Mia’s animated face had caught sight of what looked like a small graveyard.
‘It’s the whole gothic experience!’ said Sharon. ‘I wanted something like they had in The Others you know, the film: a handful of gravestones. What do you think?’
‘It looks a bit macabre,’ said Mia thoughtfully, ‘but I suppose it all fits. I love the detail, like all the trailing ivy and stuff.’ Mia moved a bramble out of the way as she ventured further around the path. ‘Are they named— the gravestones?’
‘Of course!’ laughed Sharon. Mia was relieved to see each one had a beloved children’s book character, thanks to Sharon’s offbeat sense of humour and surreal imagination.
‘When I get a bit more money saved, I’ll do up the man cave as a grotto: have some fairy lights round it, that sort of thing.’
Mia looked at her friend. ‘I’ve never been down there,’ she said.
‘And you won’t be going today! It’s a state!’ said Sharon. Lee’s man cave had been an old underground air raid shelter. He had collected pieces of timber for as long as she’d known him and tools for this, that and various until she had been banned from going down there at all. The place must have been oozing with damp and piled with timber, screws, nails, hammers and the like: a veritable hazard for unwelcome visitors.
‘If you need a hand, let me know,’ said Mia.
‘Will do. Thanks,’ said Sharon.
They followed the path around taking in some of the weird statues: an angel, a cherub and something that looked like a life-size Dracula.
‘Where did you get those from?’ said Mia.
‘Cute, aren’t they?’ said Sharon.
‘Don’t think “cute” is the word,’ chuckled Mia.
‘I’ve just been… collecting them for a while,’ said Sharon mysteriously… evasively.
‘Very life-like,’ said Mia, admiring the stone figures— or were they concrete? The angel and cherub looked like stone. The Dracula figure was more roughly hewn— possibly newer. It didn’t have the finesse or the age of the other two.
They emerged from the small wood. Some clutter lay at the side of the garden awaiting skip removal.
‘And he left the cement mixer as well. Aren’t they expensive?’ said Mia.
‘Obviously didn’t want it,’ said Sharon dismissively.
The women went back to their tea in the kitchen.
‘Still, you’re better off without him,’ said Mia.
‘Too right,’ said Sharon, pushing a coin-sized lump of concrete under a cupboard with her foot. She hoped Mia hadn’t seen that.