Elaine loved one thing above all others about being a widow: finally she could rant.
Yes, there was nobody in the house since her kids grew up and her husband died (thank God!) but her habit of being out front in the garden gave her some opportunity to communicate. Just waving at passing cars was a connection, and sometimes she was fairly sure that she recognised the driver.
The woman next door was OK if she was in the right mood but it was a heads/tails situation. Sometimes she would be like a long-lost sister, other times a right stranger but the foreign couple were always nice.
It was mainly the man she saw as he walked the little terrier, Milly, who always came to say “hello” to humans. The woman had said that Milly was maltreated as a puppy but she was very friendly as an adult dog.
If it were the woman walking the dog, sometimes with a cat or two following on, Elaine looked forward to a long chat. She was foreign and had a funny accent but some of the things she said made Elaine howl. She talked about her animals as if they were her children and even spoke to Elaine’s cat as if he were a prince.
“And is Your Highness quite contented this morning? Then Your servant is most happy.”
Elaine used to laugh out loud at that because that was exactly how she felt about her male Persian. He WAS a prince and only some people realised it. She and the foreign woman had lots of “in-close” chats and not just about pets.
The foreign man blotted his copy-book quite out of the blue. He had known Elaine when she was married and muzzled so she was entirely outraged when he told her to “Calm down’ when she was letting rip about her animal- mistreating neighbouts. Who did he think he was? When he told his wife, she fell about laughing. “And you expect to live? OMGs how do yoo think I’d react? You’d be dead!”
Did he not understand that widows needed a time to vent, explode and let rip? His wife was twenty or so years younger than her but surely… for Goodness sake.. after twenty years of marriage to her, who was so like Elaine? It was several days before “the wife” came by with the dog. They made no excuses but came straight over to her gate. Elaine liked the foreign woman and saw that she was disturbed. They took each other’s hands over the gate.
“I”m so very sorry. He’s been married to me for over twenty years. He should know what is not to be said, especially that. Please forgive him.”
The man was given a very short stay of execution while the witches worked out what needed to be done.
They discussed what it had been (another litter of dead kittens) which had driven her mad! Between them, the old ladies worked things out. Cats appeared at the vet’s and, as they were not chipped and didn’t belong to anyone, were sterilised. A small village had fewer feral cats and a woman had two fully- grown male cats who followed her when she walked her terrier. Funny, that!