On the decking the nasturtiums have all but given up the ghost, bowing their heads in submission. Even the water in the hose comes out like it’s been mainlined from the kettle. It’s only been two or three days but it’s debilitating.
Daisy is lying on the wooden floor breathing fast and heavy. Logically I tell myself it’s the heat but she’s incredibly lethargic for a two-year-old dog, her nose is running and she isn’t drinking. I push an ice cube under her snout hopefully.
Beth is tidying the kitchen drawers, slowly.
“What’s this?” she asks.
“Those are nutcrackers”
“Do you want them?”
“Not really, but they were my mother’s so best hold onto them”
In this heat even Beth can’t find the energy to challenge my ridiculousness.
I get a text from my son who is in Switzerland on business, news which my sister greets with a joyous “Oh, he’s following in your footsteps” to which my internalised response is, “I bloody hope not”.
“The plane is delayed. Storms in the UK” he writes.
“When do you think they’ll get you out?” I ask.
“About three hours apparently”.
Seven hours later he’s still at the airport and I am sitting in the dark because I have decided that having the lights on makes it hotter. The dog still breathing heavily and moving reluctantly.
For dinner, I find something nondescript in a Tupperware box which seems to involve spinach and blue cheese. I eat it with a spoon standing in front of the cool air spitting from the fridge.
Unable to press away my anxiety about the dogs breathing I haul her into the car and we set off for the emergency vet who tells me that, while her temperature is slightly up, there is probably nothing to worry about. He asks me to walk her a little outside in the car park to see how she’s moving but I suspect it’s more to help me feel better about spending £185 on a dog who is feeling a bit hot.
While we are there a huge dog is brought in on a stretcher suffering from dehydration and put straight onto a drip.
At home, we go to bed and I listen to Daisy’s laboured wheezing, which now just sounds sarcastic.
A text arrives from my son.
“I’m in a hotel in Milan. The flight is cancelled until 1 pm tomorrow. The air con is a blessing. Love you.”
I stare at the street lamp light seeping in through the cracks in the blinds and try to decide which of Boris Johnson’s new cabinet would best suit which character in Dad’s Army but confuse myself with the myriad options.
Then I read the news on my phone and follow a report about the reinstatement of the death penalty for federal inmates in the US down a rabbit hole into which I am investigating the crimes of some of those who await their fate on death row, further still onto a story about a white supremacist who murdered a family and their eight-year-old child.
Eventually, I must have fallen asleep.
Standing in the bathroom cleaning my teeth I think about how easy it is to compare the way I am feeling to the way I’d prefer to feel, rather than to the way I could feel if things were a lot worse.
On the decking, I pick up the hose and water the nasturtiums with their splashes of deep orange and pink against the smooth green of their foliage. It’s already hot but I hadn’t truly realised just how beautiful they are.