Thursday, 26 August 2010

Diary of a glass-half-empty person 7

Consuela (my Tejana maid) and I found a level piece of ground adjacent to the teepee and decided to do something with it.

First we removed any rocks and stones we could find. We did this mostly by hand, but for some of them we used one of those little tractor things you can hire. Then we set to and mowed a rectangular patch, using scythes to cut the grass to a manageable level, finishing it off with a mowing attachment on the little tractor thing. Next we marked out a tennis court and erected a net across the middle.

I have to say it looked brilliant.

We could hardly wait to get into our whites and have a game. I can still leap about a tennis court, despite the peg leg, and I knew that Consuela is no slouch with the ol’ snowshoe in her hand.

I dressed modestly in a bandeau, a Fred Perry, and a knee-length skirt. Consuela was in full replica Amelie Mauresmo kit, and the moment she let rip one of her power-serves with a grunt like a birthing hippo I knew she meant business. One single break of serve put me a set down, but I came out for set two like a tiger, and when I broke her third service game I clenched my fist and yelled “C’mon!”.

Well we were at one set all, and in the third I was serving to save the match at two match points against me. I coiled my body, tossed up the ball, uncoiled, and hammered it right into the far corner of the service court – an Ace!

To my surprise I found a smiling Consuela approaching the net with her hand extended.

“What in the world do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

“The ball was out,” she said. “That’s two sets to one, my match.”

“The ball was good,” I said, piqued.

“It was out,” she replied, firmly.

“You cannot be serious.”

“Honestly, it was out by six inches.”

“You can NOT be serious! There was chalk dust!”

“Oh Marie, it’s only a game.”

Well that did it. I turned on my heel, threw my racquet down in disgust, and stalked off the court muttering “… pits of the world…”

That night as I lay in bed the quiet of the teepee closed in on me. The night was still, there was no sound of Consuela’s usual light snores from downstairs (where she slings her Navy-surplus hammock), and even the ticking of my long-case clock only served to highlight the silence. I couldn’t sleep. My conscience troubled me and I realized I had been harsh, wrong, a bad sport. I resolved to apologise to Consuela, and promise her more matches in a more sportswomanlike spirit.

I got up at first light, thinking that it would be a nice gesture to bring her an early morning cup of tea for a change – she is much more than a maid to me, if I am honest, more of a companion, close to a soul mate. I stepped outside to breathe some fresh air, which is so invigorating here on the top of the Sidlaws. I was stretching my limbs, practicing a few smashes and backhand slices, when I was brought up short.

The tennis net was gone; not only that but the markings of the court had been rubbed out. As I walked over to where the court had been there was a lump in my throat for I saw that not only was there no trace of it, but that even the rocks had been replaced. Of course there was still a rectangle of short grass, but it seemed as though the moorland sedges and ryes were already beginning to encroach upon their former domain. It was almost as though the tennis court had never been.

For the rest of that day Consuela was sullen and monosyllabic. For my part I couldn’t find the words to speak. Once, while she was hunched over a bowl of hot water, rattling the crockery, I almost reached out my hand to touch her arm but I couldn’t bring myself to do so for fear that she would flinch away.

I have packed my whites and my racquet away, never to be brought out again.

Moral: Never let the sun go down on your wrath.

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