The past few weekends in Waldmeer, Amira had been seeing a man out of the corner of her eye. She could tell that the man was no longer an Earth resident because he was translucent. That made it easy! If she looked at him directly, he would disappear. He was about her age. Tall, blonde, broad shoulders like a footballer. Amira felt that it was not actually her that he wanted to speak to. She guessed that he wanted to speak to someone in Waldmeer who couldn’t see him. She had no idea who, but life always has a way of telling us what we need to know.
* * *
Ide looked at his sleeping body. She loved those strong, broad shoulders. It was not only a beautiful body but, so far, it had proved itself to be a resilient one after all that he had put it through. Fabian’s body was not yet showing the ravages of recurring addiction. He was probably more at home in his body than anywhere else in this world. His mind was fractured. His spirit fragile. Yet, his body had always served him well. In sports, in love; he radiated physical health and competence. She wished that he would not destroy his beautiful body by a sick mind but she knew it was only a matter of time.
Ide woke up and realised that she had been dreaming again. Fabian died eight months ago. Not long after their baby was born, Fabian went to jail for a drug related offence from his younger years. Ide lost him to prison for three years. When he returned, he was good for some years but then the addiction kicked in again. He was in and out of rehab. He was killed in a car accident earlier this year. He was drunk. This time, she and her boy lost him permanently.
No one would have been mean enough or brave enough to say, but most people felt that Fabian’s death released Ide and her, by-now, twelve-year-old boy to have a normal life. Ide appreciated their concern but what they did not realise, and perhaps could not, was that Fabian paid for Ide’s love with his own. As broken as he was, he loved her. He really loved her. Ide often looked at the other Waldmeer women and rarely saw in their husband’s eyes, the devotion she saw in Fabian’s. That was worth a lot. There was no need for pity because Ide knew she had been loved.
One Saturday afternoon, Ide made her way to the meeting that she had been invited to. She didn’t want to go. She was still grieving and didn’t want to do anything really but she was told that the meeting organiser had a bright money-making proposal. Ide needed the money. Amira had also been invited. There were fifteen other people present.
When Amira walked into the room, she noticed a woman about her age with fair skin, calm, blue eyes, soft features, and a gentle energy field. She had occasionally seen the woman around Waldmeer but she didn’t know anything about her.
“Hello, I’m Amira,” she said sitting next to the woman.
“I’m Ide,” said the woman. “Nice to meet you.”
“Ide? That’s an Irish name. That explains your looks,” said Amira smiling.
“Welcome to the first meeting of the Bungalow Buddies,” said a friendly, round woman in her early sixties. “As you are probably aware, seventeen of the houses in Waldmeer have an identical bungalow on their property. They come from the old hotel near the pier. For many years, the hotel employed seasonal workers that were needed over the holiday periods. They were mostly young folk from the city and they all needed accommodation. The hotel couldn’t house them because its rooms were full of guests and all the other accommodation in Waldmeer was taken with holiday makers. Besides, it would have been too expensive for the seasonal workers. The hotel built a row of bungalows at the edge of their property which solved the problem of accommodation for the staff. After many years, the hotel downsized and no longer needed the seasonal workers. The bungalows were offered to anyone living in Waldmeer, so long as they transported them themselves.”
Amira remembered how her (Maria’s) father jumped at the opportunity and enlisted his fishing mates to somehow get the bungalow up the hill and into their back garden. Right where it had been unceremoniously dropped twenty years ago, it still sat on massive, rough blocks of tree trunks taken directly from the forest. The foundations made the floor somewhat uneven but, all in all, it worked.
“A few of the bungalows have gone to rack and ruin,” continued the meeting convenor. “One or two have been updated and are now quite fancy. However, my understanding is that most of them are substantially unchanged and empty. I’m sure that together we can do something lovely and constructive with our bungalows.”
The woman had such an inclusive, good-willed nature that everyone in the room was on board. In essence, the idea was to get the bungalows up and running as extra accommodation for the town and as extra income for the owners.
After a pleasant meeting, the convenor said, “We will meet again in a month. Good luck with fixing up your bungalows and finding tenants.”
Charlie and her partner, Mary, had been living in the share house in Eraldus for more than two years. Charlie had decided that it was time to sell her property, in the back hills of Waldmeer, and buy a house in the city with Mary.
It was only a few years but it felt like a lifetime (perhaps, a different lifetime) since Amira had driven up the long, dirt driveway of Charlie’s property in the back hills. She parked outside her old shed which Charlie had affectionately named Maria’s Shrine. She peeked in as she walked past. There was nothing in it, except for a few items on the window sill.
Farkas had been renting Charlie’s property since his return from the North Country. Amira hadn’t let Farkas know she was coming. She didn’t have his number. Anyway, she felt it was best to catch him off guard. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door. Nothing. She was fairly sure that he would already know she was there. He had eyes like an eagle and a sixth sense to match. She decided that the best option was to patiently wait. That way, he would know that she was not kidding about wanting to talk to him. Somewhat resigned, he came to the door.
“Hello, Amira,” said Farkas. “It’s been a while since you have been in these parts.”
“Yes, it has,” said Amira. Farkas didn’t invite her in. He stood there and waited. “I know it’s none of my business…’ said Amira. That was a mistake. She immediately felt Farkas prickle. “Charlie told me she is selling her property and that she already has a buyer who wants to live in it. Obviously, you will have to move soon.”
“And?” said Farkas. “Your point?”
“I have a friend who lives a few streets from me,” said Amira. “Actually, she is at the bottom of your old street.”
“Go on,” said Farkas.
He must need somewhere to move or he wouldn’t be letting me continue, thought Amira.
“I know it’s not much,” said Amira, “but she has a bungalow and she needs someone to rent it. It’s cheap.”
“Why are you interested in me living there?” said Farkas, not one to beat around the bush. “I’m sure you are aware that I am quite capable of finding my own accommodation.”
“Of course, you are,” said Amira trying to soften him. Farkas was unimpressed.
“Why?” he repeated.
Amira said honestly, “My friend is a lovely woman. She has a son who is twelve now. They have been through a lot. The husband had a problem with addiction. Not long after their boy was born, he went to jail. Later, he was in and out of rehab. Eight months ago, he was killed in a car accident. I know he brought it on himself but he loved his wife and boy, and they loved him.”
“Well, I’m sorry for them,” said Farkas, “but I don’t see what it has to do with me.”
“I thought that if you lived there for a while,” said Amira, “it might help them by having a man around the place. You wouldn’t have to do anything; just be there.” Amira paused and then said more bluntly, “Maybe care. That would help.”
“Thanks for the suggestion,” said Farkas, “but no thanks. I have enough of my own problems.” He put his hand on the doorknob to indicate that it was time to go.
Amira didn’t budge. “Look, Farkas, it’s not just them. It’s you. Are you intending to be a hermit for the rest of your life? It’s not good for you.”
Farkas stared at Amira and spoke down to her, “I have told you before, my life is none of your business. What I do or don’t do is nothing to do with you. I can’t make this any clearer than I already have.”
Not quite ready to concede defeat, Amira said with quiet determination, “You are not the only one suffering. Don’t you think you could reach out to someone else and help a bit? You might even find it gives your life some meaning.”
Time to go, thought Amira. She didn’t bother saying goodbye. The time for niceties seemed to have been over a few moments ago; probably, after the first sentence.
“Hi Gabriel,” said Amira, answering her phone. “How are you?”
“Hi Maria,” said Gabriel. He still wouldn’t call her by her not-so-new name of Amira. “I haven’t seen you much lately. You have been in Waldmeer a lot.”
“Do you miss me?” said Amira.
“No, no, it’s not that,” said Gabriel. Amira smiled. “Now that Charlie has sold her property, I have been thinking how much I miss my trips to the back hills of Waldmeer. It was so good for me as an artist. The peace and quiet gave me inspiration in a different way to what I get in the city. It was special.”
“Yes, it was a special time,” said Amira, thinking of it fondly. Both were silent, for a moment, and then Amira suddenly said, “I have an idea. Why don’t you rent my bungalow? You can set it up as a studio. You can have cheap rent because when I moved to the share house in Eraldus, you helped me for a whole year.”
“Done deal,” said Gabriel, without hesitation. In the space of a few moments, a whole new, happy plan was set in place.
* * *
At the next Bungalow Buddies meeting, the convenor asked each resident how they got on with finding a tenant.
Ide spoke when it was her turn, “I have someone, thank you.”
That was all she said. She wasn’t a big talker. Amira briefly saw the translucent man standing behind Ide with his hand on her shoulder. As Amira had by now suspected, it was Fabian. She could not tell Ide that he had been around lately but one day she would. That was the last time Amira saw Fabian.
“That’s wonderful news,” said the convenor. “Everyone in the Bungalow Buddies has managed to find a renter.”
A sense of accomplishment fell over the group. By working together with a gracious spirit, they had quite easily created something which would benefit everyone.
“Until next time, my friends,” said the convenor. A ray of goodness spread out from the little group into the town.
On the way out of the meeting, Amira walked up to Ide and put her arm through hers.
“Buddy,” said Amira smiling.
“We are buddies,” said Ide, “bungalows or not.” She held onto Amira’s arm more tightly than she needed to.
“So, who is your tenant?” said Amira.
“The guy from Charlie’s property,” said Ide.
“Really?” said Amira.
“Yes, I was a bit surprised,” said Ide. “He called to my house and said that he had heard I had available accommodation. I showed it to him and told him the price. He said it was too much for an old bungalow. When I replied that he could have it for half price if he fixed it up a bit, he said he would take it.”
“That’s great,” said Amira.
“He did add that he wouldn’t be there for long,” said Ide.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s all good,” said Amira. “Anyway, time will tell.”
“I hope we don’t bother him,” said Ide looking a little worried. “He said that he is used to keeping to himself. I don’t want my son to start annoying him.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” said Amira. “I’m sure you will both do him the world of good.”
Ide is more polite than me, thought Amira. Farkas will find her easier to cope with. There was something else Amira wanted to find out.
“Ide, do you feel okay about him being there?” said Amira. “I mean, not everyone in the town likes him. Do you?”
Amira looked directly at Ide and waited for the answer. She knew that instinct is the great director in the formation of all relationships.
“For some reason,” said Ide, “I do. I don’t know why. I just do.”
“Then, it’s a done deal,” said Amira.