A more glorious afternoon you couldn't hope for.
It wasn't just pleasant. It was perfect.
The sun shone, although it was not what you could call hot.
We had just returned from doing something, somewhere.
I couldn't remember what or where.
A call from the neighbours summoned us for a drink in their garden.
That would be nice, but I would have to be careful as I had drunk me a river the night before.
I resolved to have some cold beer, which would quench an imaginary thirst,
smoke very little, and avoid the spirits.
Then came the bolt, like lightening that was inappropriate for the weather.
"You don't look well. You look as if you have lost a lot of weight. Do you know you could be seriously ill?"
This, not from my wife, but from his.
I dismissed it, making casual comments about ageing and a general feeling that we should discuss the midges that always seemed to hum around those that had applied lotions, but not me.
He reprimanded her: "You can't say things like that".
We were sitting rather cramped on their small paved patio.
Not on the lawn.
I recall pointing out a small cloud that interfered with the otherwise blue sky.
It was dark, shaped like a pillow.
It moved very slowly, but with a poignancy that meant its shape changed almost imperceptively.
Unlike the comment about my well being.
I succumbed to more beer and the inevitable whisky, or two.
Making excuses about having to cook dinner and tend to dogs, I left the company.
Steadying myself as I prepared my feet and mind for the short crossing across the road, and the acceptance that she was right, I casually tossed a half smoked cigarette onto their lawn.
I had not told anyone about how I felt, or the fact that my jeans were falling off me.
My pain and headaches.
My own worries, that I needed to hide from everyone.
Months later, and one day, she was to be proved right, in a way.
The dark cloud dispersed and never returned in the same form.
The midges return to haunt those who worry.
All the tests they did,
All the scans they tried, never found that cloud again.
They said I was poorly but no one ever found that cigarette on the lawn.
One day someone might.