Daisy spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. Although she had bought a few prepared items, it appeared that she enjoyed cooking and seemed to know what she was doing too. As the smells from her efforts began to drift around the place, Martin realised just how hungry he was. In this life so far, he had only had two cups of coffee, and hadn’t eaten since the Chinese food in Basildon, which was almost twenty-four hours ago, in the time frame he existed in. She didn’t ask him to do anything, and he didn’t offer. He was too afraid to let on that he didn’t know where most things were stored.
So he sat watching TV for a while, until she appeared in the living room. “I’m going to shower and get ready now, Martin. They are supposed to be here at seven, but I reckon Mum will be early, and Chloe late. She’s always late. Why don’t you open some wine, and maybe think about changing before they turn up? I thought the linen suit, that nice light blue one”. She headed off in the direction of the bedroom, and Martin looked around in some cupboards, until he found the red wine. He checked the huge fridge, and found two bottles of Prosecco cooling in the door. A short rummage in one of the drawers revealed a corkscrew, and he opened two bottles of Burgundy, allowing the air to get to them.
When he got into the bedroom, she was out of the shower, and doing something with her make-up. He was pleased to see that she was wrapped securely in a towel, avoiding any awkwardness on his part. He found the blue suit she had mentioned, and slipped on a nice crisp white shirt from its dry-cleaning wrapper. Reaching in for socks, Daisy shook her head. “No socks, love. Leave it casual, those nice soft leather Italian loafers will go well with that. You will look nice and summery”. He smiled, and did as she asked. When he was fully dressed, he left the bedroom, and went and sat in the office chair again. Thoughts were coming to him, and he didn’t want any distractions.
All the coincidences were making him sure of one thing. Each of these new lives was probably nothing of the sort. Could it be that every life carried on, in some kind of parallel universes, with him in each of them? If not, then what was Pamela doing today, when her husband wasn’t anywhere to be seen? Was she married to someone else? And was Daisy living both lives, separated by fourteen years in her time? And there was Vanessa. First encountered in his bank, then appearing as his lover in Spain, and again as his sexy next door neighbour, in Essex. And now she was his reluctant mother in law, according to Daisy at least. He hadn’t written any of it on the Remington, but somehow those people had kept appearing in every incarnation of whatever life he woke up to. Could they really all be happening at once? One day plastering in Essex, the next driving a range-rover in Spain, his conscious awareness changing, every time he used the typewriter?
The loud buzzer of the entryphone snapped him back into this world. Daisy was there to answer it, and he heard her say “Hi, Mum. Come on up. Top button in the lift”. He went back to the living room and sat down.
Martin stood up, as Daisy walked in with Vanessa. Her hair was short, cut in a choppy style. Flecks of grey could be seen at the sides. She looked a little older, and rather stressed. Her eyes met Martin’s without a hint of recognition. She accepted his outstretched hand with the briefest of handshakes in return. “We have never met, but I have seen many photos of you, naturally”. Martin waited until she sat down. “Can I get you a drink, Vanessa?” She was casting her eyes around the room, taking in her surroundings. She spoke without looking back at him. “Red wine please, Rioja Gran Reserva, if you have it”. The wine connection made him want to smile, but he kept a straight face. “Actually, I have already opened a nice Burgundy. Will that do?” She nodded, turning to Daisy. “You haven’t made much of a mark in this flat, Daisy. It feels very masculine, you know”. Daisy sat down next to her, a weak smile. Keeping the peace.
Martin poured the wine, hoping that he wouldn’t face any questioning. How long had they been married? He had no idea. Vanessa’s comment implied that this had been his place, and that Daisy had moved in with him. Was that after the wedding, or before? He had a feeling it would be best to say very little, and be vague in his answers too. She took the glass from him carefully, avoiding contact with his hand or fingers. Daisy looked up, with a mock frown. “What about me, darling? Do I get a drink?” To avoid confessing that he had no idea what she might like, he returned with another glass of the Burgundy, along with his own. He sat down slowly, looking across at Vanessa’s unmistakable profile. She was very smart, with good style, and clothes that looked expensive. But she had lost that spark, that sultry feel that she once exuded. The buzzer went again, and Daisy turned. “Will you get that? It’ll be Chloe”.
Chloe smiled at Martin when he opened the door. Then she surprised him by leaning over and kissing his cheek. “You look good, Martin. Nice suit. I haven’t seen you since the wedding. Have you lost weight?” Without waiting for him to reply, she hurried in, squealing at Daisy, and greeting Vanessa. She looked much younger than when he had first met her at Harris-Coyle of course. And she was less edgy and bitter than he remembered her too. Other than the mention of the wedding, she paid him little heed, and he heard nothing to pick up on during her dinner conversation. Luckily, there wasn’t a single mention of Pablo, Spain, or Pamela Murray. In fact it all went rather well, even though Vanessa was looking at her watch by ten, and saying she should go. Chloe took the cue, and suggested they share a cab.
Daisy was so happy. As she loaded the dishwasher, she raved on about how relaxed her Mum had been, how Chloe had said how nice Martin was, and how she thought that bridges had been built with her Mum, and they could now move on. He told her he had a little bit of work to check on in the office, and she said that was good, as she wanted an early night anyway. With a big smacking kiss on the lips Daisy said goodnight, and headed for the bedroom.
In the office room, he slid the old Remington out from the drawer. Removing the existing sheet of paper, he inserted a new piece into the roller, and lined it up.
Martin stared at the blank page for a very long time.
He was going to have to think much more carefully about what he typed on it.