Nightstand Reading

“Have you got everything you need?” she asked me. “You just relax. You’ve been through so much in recent months. Don’t worry about anything. You need a real rest, both of you.”

One half of the couple who own the Tenerife apartment we’ve borrowed – in fact, they practically “forced” it on us, bless them – was on the phone with me yesterday from England. She’d rung to see how we are. She did the run down of local people to ask for advice, asked what we’d seen so far, and suggested what else we might see, and so on.

Street scene. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Street scene. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
However, she didn’t sound exactly like her normal self: she also had the remnants of a horrible cold and said her husband was developing it now as well. It seems to be going ’round in England, I said. My in-laws both have had bad colds recently, too, I updated her.

“Yes, well, have you seen all the books?” she coughed a bit as she asked me, knowing of my book obsession.

“Yes,” I replied, satisfied, looking over at a lounge bookshelf with varied reading material. “I’ve got my Kindle, too, of course.”

“Oh, that’s right,” she noted. “Of course. You know I just am not very technological. [NOTE: That we knew. 😉 ] We’ve had Windows 10 installed by our guy here who does that sort of thing for us, all of the technical stuff we don’t know. But being sick I haven’t used the computer yet with it.”

“When we get back, I’ll walk you through it if you need help.”

“Oh, you’re lovely.”

“By the way,” I chuckled, “we found a world famous novel sitting on your nightstand….”

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]

She laughed. “Oh, yes, I’d read it last year when we were there.”

“I remember you telling me.”

If you are a recent follower, or if you happened to miss that post (which I can’t imagine: you ever missing a post?), that woman is a former neighbo(u)r of ours who, with her husband, we knew from our years living in Christchurch. She hadn’t known it when she’d bought Frontiers and taken it on a trip here early in 2015. She discovered what I’d done while sitting here reading it in the Tenerife apartment.

I used her and her husband as the real-life inspirations for Paris-resident, English “Natalie’s” parents, the “Hall-Surreys.” When we saw them in England after they’d returned from Tenerife, privately he revealed to me her reaction upon spotting that. A huge grin plastered on his face as if having enjoyed a “practical joke,” he could barely contain himself:

“Across the room,” … “I hear this laugh, and she looks at me, points out a page, and says, ‘What did he do?! That’s me! The so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!’”

At that time, I recall thinking of my uncle years before telling me how doing stuff – he used, uh, a more “colo(u)rful” word – like that is something that makes writing fiction especially rewarding: immortalizing in a small way, albeit fictionally, those in, or who have been, in our lives. Both good and bad. It can be “sneaky” good fun.

You only live once, as the saying goes…. but if someone writes about you, in a sense you’ll live “forever.” 🙂