Daniel slammed the front door to the house and stomped into the living room. His entrance was so abrupt and uncharacteristic that his friends all stopped what they were doing – Lizzie, nose up from a book – Jack, knife sharpening – Maria, daydreaming about her dance class. All three looked at Daniel and made inquisitive noises. Daniel merely shook his head, and disappeared off to his room without a word.
The next day, it happened again…
…and the day after that.
The friends discussed between themselves. Maybe it was a girl. Maybe it was something at work. Maybe a health problem that they were not aware of. But each day, when Daniel came home, he was clearly experiencing a torrent of strong emotions.
On the following Tuesday, Daniel came home angry yet again, but now things had changed at his house. Maria was waiting for him with fresh cup of apricot tea, while Jack and Lizzie had moved a large table into the centre of the sitting room.
On the table were two chopping boards, on each was a root vegetable, and there were two bright, freshly sharpened knives. Jack stood by one, and indicated the other. The girls gave a countdown, and the chopping race began. Jack won, but only by a little.
The next evening, when Daniel came home, the sitting room had been cleared of all furniture. Music was playing, and there Maria stood in fancy dress and sparkling shoes. She brought Daniel to the centre of the room, and away they danced. Jive, the waltz and the quickstep.
The next evening, there were two comfy chairs and a crackling fire. They pushed Daniel into one of the chairs, and Lizzie read to him her favourite passages from Journey to the West.
Later that evening, they sat down to dinner. Daniel thanked them for their efforts, and then told them about the very last time he would ever see his grandmother.