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Jo woke the next morning feeling refreshed and much happier than she had done over the past few days. Jack was still sleeping beside her, so she slipped out of bed and dressed quietly so as not to disturb him. Once she had crept downstairs and eaten, she went outside into the garden. It was promising to be a lovely sunny day. Jo strolled down the path towards the bottom of the garden, her mind somewhere else. She found a seat in a sunny corner and gave herself up to thinking.

Jack woke to find himself alone. He looked at the clock and saw that it was still early. Rising, he wondered where Jo was, he was so used to waking before her of late. He quickly dressed and went downstairs. He peered into the lounge on his way past, but she wasn’t in there. Nor was she in the kitchen, dining room or study. He saw the used breakfast pots and was glad to see she had at least eaten before she disappeared. There was no note either, which worried him. The last time she had disappeared without leaving a note, she had ended up in bed for three days, recovering from a walk taken to try and rid herself of her vivid imaginings. He went out through the back door and walked down the garden path to see if she was there. As he reached the bottom, he spied her sitting in the sunshine, in a world of her own. He felt relieved to see she was safe. He debated whether to disturb her, she looked so tranquil lost in her own thoughts. Jo sensed she was being watched at this point and looked up to see him standing nearby. She smiled up at him and he came to sit with her.

“I thought you’d disappeared on another mad walk, Jo.”

“No. I was awake and thought I’d make the most of the sunshine while it lasts.”

“You looked as if you were in your own world.”

“I was just thinking.”

“Anything in particular?”

“Just all that’s happened over the past few days and what I need to do now.”

“What have you decided?”

“That I need to get my life back to somewhere near normal. I know I can’t do anything about my illness, but I can do something about everything else. I think I need to start writing again. It helped last time.” Jack just put his arm around her and held her close. He could see she was determined and he admired her bravery. He knew it had been hard for her to put that nightmare into words, but it had also been therapeutic for her. If she had decided to write again, he wanted to be there to support her through it. He didn’t know where he was being posted when he returned in two weeks’ time, but he would see if he could wangle a position near to his home. That way he would be able to see her more often than he had been able to until now.

“When do you plan to start?”

“No time like the present.” She stood up and shook her skirt out, before setting off back towards the house with an air of determination about her. Jack stayed where he was and watched her go. He just hoped she was doing the right thing.

When Jack finally returned to the house, he found Jo in the study, the desk littered with sheet upon sheet of paper. She was writing furiously. Not wishing to disturb her, he went into the lounge and turned the radio on. He made sure the volume was low, so he could hear if Jo should need him. He lay on the sofa and listened to the radio for an hour or so, until he thought he heard a noise from the study. He went to check on Jo and saw her with her head in her hands, trying to stop herself from crying. He entered the study and pulled her into his arms, hoping the comfort of his presence would help her. He could feel her trembling as she allowed the tears to fall. He felt the trembling slowly lessen, then stop. Jo pulled back from him and managed a small smile.

“Come and have a drink, Jo.” She allowed him to lead her into the kitchen, where he sat her at the table and busied himself making them both a drink of tea. When he had seen her drink it, he spoke again.

“I think you might have written for long enough, today.” Jo shook her head.

“I need to finish the chapter.”

“You can continue until lunchtime, then. After that, you aren’t doing anymore. I know you, Jo, and you’ll make yourself worse if you aren’t careful. When you’ve rested, we’ll go for a walk.” Jo nodded reluctantly. She knew Jack meant what he said and it was pointless to argue. She finished her tea and kissed him as she headed back to the study. Jack looked after her and sighed to himself.

At lunchtime, Jack made sure Jo ate everything on her plate and drank the strong tea he had made her. She then went upstairs to rest. She slept for the next three hours, emotionally drained from her writing. Jack eventually woke her when he realised she would sleep all afternoon if he left her. They went for a stroll around the village, as they needed a couple of things from the shop. Jo felt much better for the fresh air. It was still warm and sunny when they returned home, so she elected to sit outside and read her book. Jack joined her on the patio and they read in a companionable silence, until Jack noticed the time.

“What are we having for dinner tonight, Jo?”

“No idea. What time is it?”

“It’s gone six.”

“Really? I didn’t think it was so late. Where has the day gone?”

“I don’t know, but I’m getting hungry.”

“I’ll go and see what I can rustle up.” Jo stood up and departed towards the kitchen, whilst Jack continued to read for a little longer. He could hear the occasional loud noise coming from the direction of the kitchen, but he chose to ignore it. Eventually, he heard Jo call him inside. He headed indoors through the French windows and to the kitchen, where Jo had just put their dinner out. The room looked as if a bomb had been dropped in it, as pots and pans were everywhere.

“Have you used every single pan we own?”

“Not quite. I think there may still be couple of clean ones in the cupboard.” Jo surveyed the state of the kitchen and sighed. “I might have made a bit of a mess, though. Frau Mieders would be disappointed if she were here.” Jack couldn’t help laughing at this understatement.

“I think she might be a little more than disappointed, Jo. How on earth did you manage to make so much mess?”

“I kept changing my mind about what to use and didn’t seem to have time to put things away.”

“Well, you can wash up, tonight. It might teach you to be a little more economical with pots and pans in future.” Jo just pulled a face at him and ate her dinner. She wasn’t noticeably crushed by Jack’s refusal to wash up since she knew she was to blame for the mess. Once they had finished, she headed to the sink to begin the arduous task. Jack went to fetch their chairs in from the garden and put them away in the garage. He read his book for a short while, before going back to the kitchen to see how Jo was getting on. He saw her still washing up, precariously balancing everything on the drainer. He took pity on her and, picking the tea towel up, he came to dry for her. When they had finished and the kitchen was spotlessly clean once more, they went to sit in the lounge. They enjoyed a peaceful evening together, talking and listening to the radio.



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