“Take my arm,” said Liz, “let’s walk out into the grass and wind.”
“No, well, okay.” Her brother, Tony, was only 25 but had to pull himself up from the ancient armchair like an old man. It creaked, and then the Elizabethan floorboards creaked.
They stepped over the thick carpet to the French door and out onto the terrace. A gust of wind blew their jackets open. He recoiled.
She charged forward, leaving him at the edge of the slope, and dived into the daisies that dotted the lawn.
“You’re mad,” he said. He reached behind him to find the bench and lower himself onto it.
“It’s so fresh.” She rolled from side to side, inhaling the green scent. “We haven’t seen the sun for ages, come on, pretend you’re five years old.”
He thought, “Well, there’s no audience here,” and raised himself up again. His bones still ached, and sometimes it felt as if his ankle had been hit with a hammer, but the doctor had said that sufficient time had passed for him to resume normal activity.
Taking miniature steps, he eased himself down the slope and joined her, lying with his face in the grass. He said, “It’s not so cold at this level, is it?”
They started rolling frantically from one side of the lawn to the other.
A few minutes later, a dark figure appeared at the door. “What’s all this hysterical laughter?”
“Oh, Dad,” she said.
“And now what? How’s he going to get up again? Here, take my hand.”
“Dad, I’m fine.” Tony went through a yoga-like sequence of moves involving kneeling, bending, and pushing himself off the ground with his hands.
Clarinet music gavotted out from somewhere deep in the house.
Liz ran back inside, shouting, “The dance is about to start.”