(continued from Issue 20)
Lil: Ahhh…‘relaxation weekend’ is right! I didn’t realise how much stress I must have been under before I came here. Miguel’s hot stones and Sasha’s reiki were excellent, but your head massage thingy, Nahila, beats them both.
Lil: No, it’s okay, I went before I came in.
Nahila: Pardon? Oh no, Lil. Champissage! It’s the name given to the Indian Head Massage.
Lil: Oh, right. Sorry, Nahila! Maybe I should try the ear candles next – might improve my hearing…Ohhh, that’s good…Still, whatever it’s called, it’s doing the trick.
Nahila: Yes, I can feel your knots disappearing, Lil. I believe you arrived with some friends, but I haven’t seen them around the house. Do they not wish to try any of the treatments?
Lil: Well, if anything, they need to relax more than I do, so I hope they give something a go! They’re more ‘fresh air and exercise’ people, though…Down a bit! That‘s it!…In fact, they went for a hike over the moors early this morning.
Nahila: But it is quite late now and there must be at least a foot of snow out there.
Lil: Hmm…Yes. Miguel mentioned something along those lines this afternoon. I thought they would be back by now, I must admit, and a packet of Hobnobs wouldn’t go far between three of them. Still, they’re sensible enough to know what they’re doing…Aww, you’ve stopped!
Nahila: We are all done, Lil. We recommend you sit quietly for a few minutes to let the massage take effect, so I’ll let you unravel a little more in peace and I’ll be back shortly.
At the croft…
Gladys: Ahh, I needed that! Best cuppa I’ve had in quite a while and those biscuits filled a hole. I must say, this place is Spartan to say the least, with just the stone floor and a couple of sticks of furniture, but with that log fire roaring away in the grate, it’s as cosy as my front room! I could just nod off, especially when I look out there!
Mavis: Yes, I was ready for that tea and it’s the first time since this morning that I’ve been able to feel my toes, but don’t get too comfortable; we need to make our way back to The Lemon Grove and make sure Sheila got back safely.
Gladys: I’m sure Sheila will be fine. It stopped snowing just after she left us and we can’t be that far from the guesthouse.
Mavis: Even so, we can’t stay here all night, so if you get those cups washed up, I’ll make sure the fire’s safe and we’ll make tracks.
Gladys: Aw, just five more minutes. I love watching the logs sputtering and crackling and the sparks bursting in all directions. Ouch, ya bugger!
Mavis: Hmm. How do you feel about the sparks now? I thought you were sitting a little close.
Gladys: Yes, well, I suppose we’d better be making a move. Pass that bottle of water will you, Mave? I’ll use the rest of it to swill these cups out.
Mavis: There you are, Gladys. This fire should be okay. It’s dying down now anyway, but I’ll just pull these chairs away to be on the safe side.
Gladys: Right, that’s the cups done. Are we ready? Coats on. Backpacks…er.. packed. Light out. Let’s go!
Mavis: Oh, goodness! It’s bitter out here! Come on, Gladys, I’m not hanging around. Make sure that door’s closed properly and let’s get a move on.
Gladys: Lead the way, Mave. I’m right behind you.
Mavis: The snow was quite heavy and it’s covered up a lot of the old tracks, but Sheila’s footprints are clear enough. Assuming she made it back to the guesthouse, we just have to follow these and we’ll be back in no time.
Gladys: Ah, yes. IF she made it back. She might have been so disorientated in the snow that she could’ve headed off in the wrong direction all together, or ended up walking in circles! SHE might be following OUR footsteps! We could be fated to wander the moors forever, each following the other until we pass into folklore.
Mavis: Will you behave! You know I’m worried sick about Sheila as it is!
Gladys: Oh, Mavis! Relax! The sky has cleared and it’s a beautiful night. Look at those stars. I’ve never seen so many in my life!
Mavis: That’s the beauty of being away from the towns and cities – no street lighting. Even with the Moon up there, the sky seems full.
Gladys: Everything seems so still and timeless…and clear. ‘The moon on the breast of the
new-fallen snow gave a lustre of midday to objects below.’ Clement C Moore wrote that line and it’s true enough.
Mavis: You’re in a poetic mood today, Gladys!
Gladys: I think I’m getting back in touch with nature! This weekend was meant as a ‘get away from it all’ break, but for me it’s a time to get back to it all. You can have all the massages, therapies and treatments you want, if that’s what you want to spend your money on, but when it comes down to it, if your attitude doesn’t change, any relaxation you feel will only ever be temporary. You can’t buy peace of mind and you’re unlikely to find lasting contentment with a hosepipe up your behind.
Mavis: It’s a powerful image, but I think I would agree with that!
Gladys: I just wish a lot more people would see what’s all around them and the pleasure they can derive from it. Simple pleasures, yes, but genuine, free and boundless. Anyway, that’s enough moralising for now. Look what‘s down there, in the valley.
Mavis: Well, well. The guesthouse.
Gladys: It’s only about half a mile away. We were a lot closer than we thought…Hang on, what’s that on that bench up there?
Mavis: It looks like someone’s backpack.
Gladys: Honestly! How can anyone forget to pick up their pack? Wait a minute, though. This looks familiar.
Mavis: Awfully familiar. Have a look inside; there might be some identification.
Gladys: There’s not much in here…wait, what’s this? It’s an empty water bottle with an ‘S’ written on it.
Mavis: Sheila’s! I knew it was a mad idea to go on without us!
Gladys: Now just calm down, Mavis. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong necessarily.
Mavis: Really? Why would she leave it behind? And look at the snow – it’s flattened down in places, but scuffed up in others…and what’s that? On the side of the bench.
Mavis: There! That red patch.
Gladys: Erm…it looks very much like…blood.
Mavis: Oh God! I suppose that means nothing, too. Sheila! SHEILA!
to be continued…