and George's Little Secret"
had just finished planting some Spring bulbs in a pot
when her phone rang.
simply must come! Tomorrow at five? Wonderful! See you
then. Ciao." Jean replaced the receiver and smiled.
How nice of Hilda to invite her to tea.
and Hilda were such old friends. Yes, that was true.
They were all getting old now. She boiled herself a
mug of instant coffee, and sat down at the table in
her narrow kitchen. She'd known George and Hilda for
eighteen years. Seventeen of those had been spent living
next door to them at Violet Gardens. Sixteen of them
with her late husband.
after Alfred had died, Jean wanted to move on to a smaller
don't want you to go, Jean," George had bleated
over the fence. "Hilda and I will miss our little
George winked at her and whispered, "And you know
what else I'll miss."
they'd tempted her with outings to the local superstore
so she'd not have to struggle home on the bus with her
shopping. Sometimes they bought her an espresso at the
in-store cafe. Occasionally they'd take her to an early-morning
and Hilda would stomp up and down in the mud while George
rummaged through the cardboard boxes.
the For Sale sign was erected, George got nervous.
won't go and sell it to a noisy family, will you?"
he called after Jean one morning as she wheeled her
shopping trolley towards the bus stop.
wind happened to carry his voice in the wrong direction.
Jean hadn't caught what he'd said. So she just waved
and walked on. When she wheeled her shopping back two
hours later, he was waiting for her. He was clutching
Jean," he smiled. "I wasn't going to mention
this but there's a discrepancy with our boundary."
these open plan front gardens don't have very clear
boundaries." She smiled back sweetly.
husband shouldn't have planted those bulbs along here."
He pointed to a row of daffodils which divided their
properties. "This part belongs to me. I'm getting
sick of those bulbs."
didn't stop smiling. "You can dig them up when
I've gone. Sorry I haven't got time for a little chat.
Got some viewers coming later." She pushed her
trolley up the path to her front door, wishing she could
make George eat his words.
viewers were a jolly couple in their thirties, with
five children and two dogs. When they offered Jean the
asking price for her house, her estate agent strongly
recommended she should accept it without delay.
admired her tidy little retirement flat. She sipped
her instant coffee. George in particular had been rather
sulky when he found out she'd sold her house to a big
noisy family. But he and Hilda insisted upon keeping
three-thirty the following afternoon, Jean opened her
cupboard, removed a neat little package and placed it
in her shoulder bag. Next she checked her hair and make-up
in the hall mirror. Not bad for sixty-two. "And
you know what else I'll miss." She pictured George's
round face and giggled like a schoolgirl.
at Lilac Gardens, she was surprised to see a For Sale
sign outside George and Hilda's house. It was stuck
in the flower bed which bordered the property she used
to own. George must have dug those bulbs up, she decided.
For now there was a bed of fine gravel covering it.
smiled and pretended to ignore it. George and Hilda
each greeted her with a hug and a kiss. Tea was laid
long is it since your husband died?" asked George
over a cream puff.
sipped the sweetened tea. "Two years. He died shortly
after planting those bulbs. Remember?"
yes." George stopped chewing.
tea?" Hilda fussed.
please." Jean watched Hilda waddle out in her pink
leaned forward and whispered, "Got anything nice
for me?" She removed the little package from her
large handbag. He snatched it and shoved it under the
cushion he was leaning against.
fussed back in. "Aren't you going to ask us about
the For Sale sign?" She poured Jean another cup
of tea. Jean raised her eyebrows as she waited for George
to describe in very great detail the inheritance they'd
received from an ancient aunt who'd died.
she listened, Jean thought about the carefully-wrapped
pie warming up nicely under George's cushion.
George had described the luxury retirement bungalow
he and Hilda were about to move into, he chuckled, "You
know we've never really forgiven you for selling your
house to that noisy family!"
sipped her tea and shook her head at the offer of another
that mean you won't be giving me your forwarding address?"
course we will!" George grinned widely showing
off a set of ill-fitting false teeth.
friends are like good neighbours, aren't they Hilda?"
Hilda smiled and nodded. Then she stuffed a whole cream
puff into her mouth.
I said," George continued. "Good friends and
good neighbours are very hard to come by."
goodness!" exclaimed Jean, checking her watch.
"Is that the time?" She made her excuses and
she turned to wave goodbye at their gate, she thought
about the nasty little gift she'd chopped up and put
into that pie. It was a Spring bulb she'd saved from
the pack she'd bought for her new pots.
poisonous," it had said on the packaging. "Do
would ever suspect Jean. She waved once more and blew
a kiss at Hilda. Those nibbles she'd given George over
the years had been their little secret. Hers and George's.
And soon dear old George would be eating his words.