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The man and the boy stood in silence. Cheryl and the other kids caught up to them because they’d stopped.
Mr Reynolds looked back at the group catching up and nodded once.
“My wife fell in love with this house when she was a small child. Her grandmother lived here, in the servants’ quarters and told her tales of what it was like to work for an important family back in those days.” Mr Reynolds changed as he began his tale. He became more animated, his slouch tightened and disappeared, the lines on his face faded a little. His voice grew in timbre, he sounded more confident with each sentence. The kids listened, entranced.
“We met when I was still a teen – barely. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever laid eyes on and I must have fallen in love there and then. She always seemed to be a flower-child caught in a Goth body.” He laughed at his memory and the group of teens watched him, waiting for the story to continue.
“She looked like Morticia Addams from the TV show, not the movies. Long black hair shone even in the dimmest light and her eyelashes needed no mascara. She wanted to be able to wear long flowing pastel shades of silks and chiffon but they just didn’t suit her. Anything pale made her look ill, washed-out, but darker colours, purple, aubergine, midnight blue, all complimented her skin and hair so that a mere glimpse of her took your breath away. And she had a grace about her that made me think of ballerinas.” Mr Reynolds looked around at the teens as though he’d forgotten they were there.
The kids stood wide-eyed as he wiped a tear from his cheek. “Sorry kids, the memories… you know?”
Cheryl stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on his arm. “I remember Sherrie’s mother.”
My Reynolds nodded.
“When she fell pregnant she started to take ill. At first, we thought it was morning sickness, right up until I saw her coughing up blood. She’d tried to hide it from me but I insisted we go to the doctor. I wish I hadn’t made her go. We learned she had something else growing inside her besides the baby. She took the decision out of my hands and said she wanted no treatment that would harm her baby - our baby. Tish survived, but it broke her health permanently.”
“Tish?” Andy looked away from the house he’d been studying as he listened to the man’s reminiscences.
Mr Reynolds laughed. “Yeah, she looked like Morticia, remember I told you? And Gomez Addams’ nickname for his wife was ‘Tish’, short for Morticia. I took to calling her that and it stuck.”
The group of teens standing just behind Mr Reynolds gave an appreciative chuckle. Mr Reynolds smiled.
He sighed and steeled himself for the next part of his story. “Everything inside Tish started giving up. Her kidneys and liver gave her problems to start with. That was all kept under control with medication. I guess I’m thankful that my job entitled us both to health insurance. She had the very best of healthcare, but it wasn’t enough to save her. It may have extended her life a little, but not long enough. Then, she became pregnant again. It scared me to death, but Tish was so happy. Sherrie was nine years old. Tish died a little after Stevie came into the world. She held him and insisted he feed from her. She died with a serene smile on her face and my whole world shattered. I didn’t believe I’d be able to cope without her, but I had to go on, I had Sherrie and Stevie to think about.”