When Jason reached Majorca Flats, Eleanor Cumberledge was making tea.
“Morning, Jason. How are you?”
“Very well, thank you Mrs …uh ... Eleanor. And you?”
“Good.” Eleanor smiled at him, and Jason could see she knew he'd spent the night out, and wasn't going to ask about it. “Would you like some tea?”
“I'd love some. Thank you.” Mrs Cumberledge took down a second cup from the dresser and put it on the tray next to the teapot. They went outside and sat on the back verandah, the little garden a haven of greenery and peace. Jason sat a bit further away from Mrs Cumberledge than usual, conscious that he smelled of sex and sweat and needed a shower.
They sat for a moment or two in silence then Jason said, “I lost it a bit, rather, last night. I was thinking of Brent, and I … cried.”
“I don't think the grief ever goes away, Jason. I still think of Bart often. I miss him every day.” She hummed a snippet from La Traviata, absent-minded. Then her sharp gaze was back on his face. “Don't keep on feeling guilty. That's important.”
“I did wrong,” he said simply.
“I know. As long as you learn from it. I'm an old woman. Will you believe me when I tell you that we all make mistakes? Some of them terrible. I've told you about Bart.”
“Yes. But you blame yourself. Don't you?”
Mrs Cumberledge nodded. “But I don't let that destroy me. I won't. I try and make amends by making the world a better place.”
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