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4 December 2012

Hi everyone.

Gosh, what a month it has been! Well, about three weeks or so, but it feels longer, actually. At one time I did not know if I was going to put up any more entries on here, even though I was writing them on Nia Netbook. Well, things have settled down quite a bit now, and the Lair is in the midst of preparations for Christmas. It is going to be a very different Christmas from the last one, and I am going to make absolutely sure it is as fantastic a Christmas as we can possibly make it. It will be our first Christmas together at The Lair after all.

I know, I know, I am rambling and ducking things, I had better get down to it. I have been wondering how much of my recent entries I wanted you to see, but at the end of the day, I have never hidden anything before really, so I think I will just paste them into this document as I wrote them. You may find some of them a bit disturbing. You have been warned. Well, here goes …

November 14.

Stars! Just had a letter from Shana-Sherin! I wrote to Madam Lynnara yesterday because I had not heard from Babsy and I was worried. I had a zlendt good right to be worried, I knew something was wrong, she has been as regular as clockwork with her scroll since she started. Madam L told me she is in the Healing Gardens! The healing gardens, for moon’s sake! She is dangerously ill with mushroom poisoning! Apparently Shana-Sherin are paying for her treatment because it happened while she was under their care. Netta has gone over to be with her, which is not good. I don’t think I can bear it! I have grown to really love that ling! I wonder if they wil let me go to, if things get really serious and we have to say goodbyes. I think I will ask.

Things all ok here, this gym craze of L’s is still persisting, it won’t last! I have to say though, her Migraines seem to be a bit better because of it. Roll on Sunday! I want to see Tealy!

November 17.

Zlanny Zbalane! I’m exhausted! So now we are doing three shows a week, not two! It really is going to be a killer. L was not well enough to do Nashville Cats yesterday, so poor Brian had to do it on his own, wel, I helped. L well enough to work today, thank the moon, or stars know what would have happened. We got both shows out, I think everyone enjoyed them.

The news from the Old Country is not bad. Netta arrived in the gardens and Babsy is no worse, poor little thing. Apparently the healers say she will recover with the hand’s help. I am very relieved to hear it. This will put her studies back though, I hope they will not move her to another set, it has taken her long enough to get used to where she is.

What I really need now is a long, long sleep and a nice quiet day tomorrow, visiting the family and spending time with my beautiful girl! Next week is going to be quiet, as Brian is away from Monday to Thursday, so L and I will have the place to ourselves, and if she is ok it should be lovely. Gosh, I am dropping where I sit, must go to bed.

November 18.

I must stay calm. I must. Stay. Calm. I keep telling myself that, but my head is full of thoughts, whirling around and around, my chest feels so tight I can hardly breathe. My eyes are full of unshed tears. If I start crying I just will not stop. And I can’t start, I have to stay calm, I have to be strong. Tealy is lying in my bed and she is only half conscious.

It started out as such a normal Sunday. I got up at my usual time, showered and dressed, made the bed and tidied up, booted up Nia and had a look to see what the family’s been up to. Mum told me that Barty has finally come out of deep water. I didn’t know how I felt about that. Barty is a pompous idiot and we detest each other, he also has caused a lot of trouble for his family. Still, at the end of the day he is my brother and I do not wish him or anyone dead. Maybe this brush with death will teach him to mend his stupid ways. Anyway I told Mum I was glad he was on the mend. I had a chat with Tovey, he, Lena and Lita seem to all be getting along fine. Lita is still in shock about losing Mart and her youngling, but she is doing well where she is and I felt encouraged about her. I saw that Mella was online and had a chat to her, and she asked Tealy and I to come over and have some tea with her, Derry and the lings. This pleased me, we both love Mella and her family.

When I was finished catching up I went into the den to get breakfast. L was having a good day, she was curled up on the sofa with her computer, Brian was at his desk already. I got on with getting breakfast and we ate our bacon, sausages and pancakes sitting around the table in our usual companionable way. How normal it all seemed!

Once I had everything cleared away I put on my thick coat and made my farewells to Brian and L before heading for the colony with a very light heart. Tealy was waiting for me in the zapping bushes as usual. As soon as I saw her I knew there was something not right. Her usually straight, lithe little figure was hunched and huddled against the cold. She was wearing a thick sheepskin coat, a woolly scarf, a furry hat, gloves, and she was still shivering with cold.

“Hi, sweetheart,” she said, through chattering teeth. “Can we go inside? I’m frozen.”
I bent to look at her. Her usuall peaches and cream skin was pale and clammy. I put a hand under her chin and lifted her face so I could see her more clearly.

“You shouldn’t have come, Zaea,” I said gently. “You don’t look well.”

She pulled her head away from my hand and sniffed.

“It’s only a bit of a cold.” She said thickly. “Please, Bert, standing about in this wind isn’t doing it any good. Let’s get inside!” She sneezed suddenly and pulled out a handkerchief.

“Drat!” She said, plying it, “Disgusting.” She pulled the handkerchief away and was about to hide it, but I stopped her hand. My heart seemed to turn to ice. I had seen a flash of green on it.

“Oh Bert, for gold’s sake let me go and let’s get in!” she snapped.

“No, Tealy.” I pulled the handkerchief out of her hand and looked at it closely. It was streaked with bright green mucus.

“Zaea,” I spoke very quietly. “You cannot go inside the colony. Have you seen anyone since you’ve been here?”

“No,” she looked at me, her huge aqua eyes were bewildered and also, I now saw, rimmed with red. “I felt so awful I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Please, Bert, I can’t stand out here much longer. Why are you looking like that?”

I took her hand.

“We need to get out of here, Zaeahana,” I told her. “Come with me.”

I zapped us to the Lair. It was all I could think of to do. I needed to get Tealy to where she would be safe, warm and comfortable. She could not go back to Elfhold, and where else was there? When we got to my closet I told Tealy to get herself into night clothes and into bed. I needed her to be where she was warm, and we could look after her properly. While she was doing that I would go and talk to Brian and L, and also make some calls.

The first thing I did when I was out of the room was dash into the den and straight up to L. I have been through a lot this year, I have changed a lot, I know I have, but I wonder if there will ever be a time when L will not be the hole I bolt too when things just get too zlendt much to bear.

It must have been a bit surprising for L, I mean, one minute she was sitting there, quietly reading an audio book, the next she was pounced on by 32 inches of hurtling lep. She could not make out what I was babbling at first, so she lifted my head from her shoulder.

“Ok, sweetie, calm down.” She said. “This sounds serious, whatever it is, so histrionics are not going to help anyone. You have to calm down and you have to do it now.”

Her firm, kind voice turned off my blind panic like someone would turn off a tap. Brian got up from the desk, came over to the sofa and sat down. L disengaged me from her and sat me in my normal place.

“Now,” she said, “Tell us.”

I took a very deep breath and fought down the rising tears.

“Tealy has the Green Blight. She is showing classic symptoms. Oh, what can I do?”

L took hold of my hand and squeezed it tight.

“Where is Tealy now, Bert? Is she still in Elfhold?” asked Brian.

“No, she is here, in my closet. She was waiting for me in the zapping bushes when I got to the colony…” I told Brian and L the story of how I had met Tealy and known immediately that she was ill, and of my reasoning for bringing her here to the Lair.

“Right,” L sounded very matter-of-fact. “She is here, so we can nurse her together. The first thing we need is information, and you downloaded plenty of that the other week when the blight first broke out. You can Email it to me so that I can read up on how to nurse someone with Blight. I’ll need to know everything I can in case you go down with it too and can’t help me.

I stared at her in horror. I had not thought of that.”

“I will also need a contact address for someone at Shana-Sherin in case of, well, emergency. You know. Brian, do you have one?”

“No, I don’t.” said Brian. “They certainly know how to reach me. Professor Delian Emailed me that time you went AWOL, Bert, and I was able to reply to that Email, but when I tried to find the address again it had been erased.”

“Shana-Sherin monitor me at random, L,” I said, “I think they would know for sure if anything happened. Anyway I don’t care about that, I only care about Tealy.”

“Bert, you may not care, but we certainly do!” Brian sounded very grave. “This strain of Green Blight is obviously aggressive, and whether you choose to think about it or not, you have chosen to put yourself at serious risk.”

“Well, what would you have done?” I flared up angrily. “Left her in the biting cold to fend for herself?”

“Bert, please don’t speak to me like that.” I was silent. Brian and L did not have to take care of Tealy. They did not legally have to take care of me if I got sick, they could send me straight back to Shana-Sherin.

“I’m sorry.” I said in a very small voice. “You could send me back to Shana-Sherin if I get sick, L.”

“As if!” L squeezed my hand. “We’ve told you before. You’re our lep, you’re our family, that’s all there is to it. But you’ve got to let us think ahead. Being panicky and angry isn’t going to help. Now, we can get info on how to nurse Tealy, and maybe you, but there is more we may need. Medicines. You need to talk to Kori, Bert, and see what is needed.”

“I will talk to her,” I said, “And maybe she can tell me what plants to get and how to make the medicine, but I am not good at those kinds of things, and I don’t have the right help from the hand. Kori’s own medicines would be better!”

“Well,” Brian looked thoughtful, “She cannot meet you, you can’t go to her, but could she not leave the medicines somewhere for you?”

“Good idea, B!” L gave him an approving smile. “Bert, couldn’t you send her a, what do you call it, a map? She could put the medicines in our mailbox.”

And so it was settled. I just so thank the hand that I work for humans who are as amazing as they are! Where else could I have got a job with people who care enough about me to take in my girl and care for her, even if it means I might get sick and not be able to work and need nursing too. I’m so grateful to them I don’t have words to write it down.

I called Kori and told her what was what. She sounded very worried.

“That’s bad, our Bert,” she said. “When the Blight lies quiet like that then wakes up again it’s not never nuffink good. An’ it’s the elf, you say? Well, we can try, Bert, but I ain’t never nursed a elf wiv blight, so it’s trial an’ error. We need to get the antifungal tincture into ‘er straight off. show me where to come. I’ll bring what you need an’ you’ll need to give ‘er a measure once every hour for the next twenty-four. She ain’t been caught early enough an’ we got to stop it from getting’ on to ‘er lungs. For the rest, get plenty o’ clean water into ‘er, keep ‘er warm an’ quiet, if ‘er temperature goes up an’ she feels ‘ot an’ dry call me straight away, same goes if you ‘ear ‘er breath get rattly. Make sure she ain’t layin’ down flat, prop ‘er up on pillows, ok?”

Within ten minutes, Kori called back to tell me the medicine had been left in our mailbox and L went out to fetch it. She returned with a small cloudy glass bottle with a tiny metal cup on its lid.

“Here you are, sweetie,” she said. “Go and get some of this into her straight away. Set a timer on your phone. Once every hour. Stay with her and let us know if there’s anything you need. We’ll take care of ourselves and anything else that needs doing.”

She gave me a kiss on the cheek and pushed me gently towards the closet door.

Tealy was lying in bed drowsing uneasily. I went to get more pillows and propped her up so that she was half-sitting rather than lying flat. I poured a milky liquid from the bottle Kori had given me into the medicine cup and held it to Tealy’s lips. She wrinkled her nose in disgust, but swallowed it down, and after that seemed to sleep more deeply. I got Nia and my phone, settled on the sofa where I could see the bed, and here I have been ever since.

I have been giving the medicine for about nine hours, but Tealy is getting steadily worse. Her eyes and lips are swelling, there is green coming from her mouth and nose which I wipe away so she can breathe, when I care for her or give her the medicine she looks at me as if she does not know who I am or where she is. She has not spoken at all since she came here. It is as if she has been turned into someone else. But she has not. That is my Tealy girl there. My beautiful, sweet, vivacious Tealy girl who grew and changed so much, and helped my family when she did not have to, and who wants to be with me and I can’t bear it! Why in the name of the moon, why! If I could only understand! Hand, you gave her to me, are you going to take her away again just as I am finding out how beautiful it is to really love someone?

I must stop, this is not helping. It is almost time to give Tealy her medicine and I want to give her another drink too. It is going to be a long night. L says I should sleep on the futon but there is no need. I need to be here to take care of Tealy. I will doze on the sofa in between caring for her. Pray to the hand she is better tomorrow!

November 19

So tired, so, so tired! Have given Tealy all the tincture, called Kori and told her so. She left different potion in mail box, bigger bottle. Says to give every three hours and that I must be sure to sleep or I’ll go down too. I’ve tried, dozed a bit, but so worried, can’t really get off.

Tealy no better today. Very white, clammy, sweating, eyes very red and swollen, don’t think she can really see. Her temperature is going up, but she does not feel dry and breath not rattling. She said one word today. She said: “Hinky?” Thought my heart would break. Is she still not over him? Oh stars! Oh, just stars! Am I only going to be second best for her? OH stop it, Bert! Getting her better is what is important at the moment. Anything else is completely unimportant. Yes, but why did she say Hinky? She was delirious, you idiot! But when the guard is right down, is that not when the truth comes out? If she said Hinky then wasn’t that because she wanted Hinky to be nursing her, not me? Enough! Enough! I don’t care. The Blight is not going to take her, not if I can help it! She kissed the Wishstone with me, that has to count for more than what she said when she was completely delirious. It has to, doesn’t it? Please, hand. Doesn’t it?

November 20

Everything the same only worse really. Tealy’s temperature still going up, though she’s clammy not dry. Eyes swollen shut, can’t see, so very disorientated and distressed. Stayed awake most of last night, trying to keep her calm, kept talking to her when she got upset. This morning went out to grab cup of tea, only floor kind of came up to meet me.

Next thing I remember was lying in cool room, gazing up at ceiling I’ve never seen before. Found out later that L had heard a bump and come out of den to find me collapsed on hall floor. She had taken me, passed out cold, and laid me on her bed where I had slept for about seven hours. L looked after Tealy meanwhile. Thank the moon I have an IPhone so she could turn on Voiceover and see how long it was till Tealy’s next dose!

I came back to nurse Tealy so L could rest. Found her in state she’s in now. She hasn’t said anything else, she just wails and cries when she wakes and doesn’t know where she is. She looks so tiny, it’s like she’s shrinking into herself. I can see tinges of green around her nose and lips. I wonder if that’s just from the stuff staining her skin, or something more sinister. Hmm. I better call Kori.

November 21 I think.

Stars! What a day. Called Kori when I finished writing and she did not say much. She said it could be mucus staining the skin or it could be more. She just said if I felt the skin dry out and the temperature was still high, or I heard coughing or rattling in the breath I should call straight away. I sat on the sofa and stared at Tealy until my eyes burned. I got up, wiped her face when she needed it, talked to her, gave her medicine and drinks, cared for her needs, and in between I kept touching her skin and looking at her. She seemed to be no worse, if no better either.

I do not know at what point my over-taxed brain shut itself down and my eyes closed. All I remember is waking up to the insistent sounds of my timer going off, L shaking my shoulder and Tealy wailing at the top of her voice and interspersing the wails with coughs which chilled my blood once I had fought my way out of the depths of unconsciousness and grasped what they meant.

I stilled the timer, jumped to my feet and ran to the bed. Tealy’s whole face was now tinged with green, her skin was dry and heat radiated from it. Zlendt, I thought. Zlanny Zlendt. Oh hand preserve us and help us all!

After one moment of horrified immobility I made a beeline for my phone, grabbed it and called Kori’s number. She answered, sounding perfectly alert and wide awake.

“Ok, our Bert, tell me exactly what she looks like an’ ‘ow she sounds. Try to stay calm an’ be thorough, ‘er life could depend on it.” Is the first thing she said.

I took a very deep breath. I described tealy’s symptoms in as much detail as I could. When I was finished there was a long silence.

“All right, our Bert,” said Kori, “first we ‘as to try an’ get a sweat to break. A sweat will bring the temperature down. She needs lots of covers, ‘ot bottle at ‘er feet, an’ you need to mull wine or Zair wiv the powder I’ll leave you. Give ‘er a measure, I’ll leave that too, every hour. Put a cool cloth on ‘er head while you’re keepin’ the rest of ‘er warm. Keep the room quiet an’ very calm an’ the lights low. Understand all that, Bert?”

“Yes,” I told her.

“Good,” said Kori, “Then we ‘as to try an’ kill the fungus in ‘er lungs. The tincture won’t ‘elp no more, we needs to get right to the place. I’ll need you to rub on a special embrocation I’ll leave you. This goes through the skin and what’s inside it will attack the fungus on the lungs. Rub it on the chest once every hour.”

“Oh gosh.” I suddenly felt very confused and blushed bright red. “I don’t know if she’d want me to. Isn’t there a potion she could take?”

“Oh for stars’ sake! Do you want to save ‘er or not! Get your ‘uman to ‘elp if you’re comin’ over all gentlemanly! We got to get this off ‘er lungs or she’s a gonner! You got that?”

“Yes, Kori, I’ve got it.” I felt like a fool.

“Tel you the truth, Bert, you better be prepared. You know once the Blight gets on the lungs the chances is less than fifty fifty.” Kori’s voice was sorrowful and weary. “We’ll do all we can, but you better make up your mind an’ say your goodbyes.”

I hung up the phone in tears which I could not stop. For about ten minutes I totally gave way to what I had been trying to push down since Tealy was taken ill. Then my text alert went off, and it was fromKori to let me know that the latest batch of medicine was in the mail box. Feeling unutterably tired, sad and old, I put on my coat and trudged out to fetch it.

What time is it now? About twenty past eleven. We have been very busy. For about the last six hours we have been treating Tealy. I mulled wine with sugar, water and the powder that Kori left us. It looks to be a mixture of finely ground plants, herbs and seeds. It makes a nice spicy smell in the mull. I have been feeding this to Tealy once each hour. She cannot drink properly anymore, her mouth is so swollen, so I have to use a little spoon and feed her. Thank the hand she can still swallow or stars know what would happen! I look after her hotwater bottle, bathe her head with cool cloths, make sure she is as comfortable as possible. L runs gofer for me, brings anything I need, and L also does the rub with the antifungal ointment once an hour. We make a good nursing team, but we are both getting extremely tired!

I wish I could say that all our hard work is doing some good, but at this moment Tealy is still fiercely hot, her skin is still getting greener, her breathing is still rattling and her coughing frightens me to death. Kori says to be prepared and say my goodbyes but I cannot. I am far too angry. This is so monumentally unfair! How can I say goodbye to her? WE barely had time to say hello!

November 22.

My beautiful girl! Oh Tealy Tealy! OH my beautiful girl! Awful awful awful! Why did this have to happen?

Brian home, tower of strength. L and I so so tired, just so devastated. Oh Tealy Tealy, my little Tealy even green inside your ears, I can’t bear to see it!

Paracetamol? What? They say bring down fever. Mild drug for humans may be strong on elves. L says nothing to lose and Brian agrees. They say medieval medicine isn’t cutting it. But human drugs on an elf? Might kill her. She’s almost gone anyway. Tealy oh Tealy tealy! L crushed up one tablet in water. Brian held Tealy’s head and I fed it to her.

Time for the mull. Low country with the mull, pouring it down sink, not working! Brian agrees, he says give paracetamol a chance. L says go on with rub though, she’s doing it. Oh my poor Zaeahana, skin and bones, just look at you! Green all over! Want to scream, want to throw this machine right across room! So unfair! Why, why Tealy?

Tired to death. Brian wants me sleep on futon but can’t, have to be with my girl if… Hand, hand, hand please please please! Just please, just please! Not. Tealy!

November 23

Don’t dare to believe it yet. 4 AM, sure she’s cooler. Think I may be just hoping. Please hand. Please, hand!

L gave Tealy another Paracetamol crushed up in water. Still going on with rubs. Brian’s taken over gofer so L can sleep. I’m doing rubs now, think it’s what Tealy would want anyway. Hope so.

Hand! Oh hand thank you! This time no imagination, it’s working! She’s sweating! The fever has broken!

Had to call Kori, didn’t know what to do. Green water pouring off tealy, horrible! Kori did not seem sure what to do either. Said she had only seen the treatment work once or twice. Did not say about paracetamol. She told us that in a lep colony a lep sweating green lay on piles of leaves which were changed when they got sodden for fresh ones. WE had no leaves, so I grabbed an armful of towels. Hmm, I think I am going to have to spend a good bit of my savings replacing L’s stock of clean towels. Tealy ruined rather a lot of them before she had finished leaching green out of her skin. I will try washing them, but I do not think that stain will ever come out. L, bless her, says towels are not important.

My girl is sleeping now so I have time to take a breath. Oh, I am just bursting with thankfulness to the hand for giving her back to me!

When the worst of the sweating was over, we washed Tealy and dried her with the one clean towel we had left, and when we were done, her skin was cool and its normal colour again! She was still breathing noisily, but it was much easier than it had been. I was just helping L to tuck the duvet around her shoulders, when she opened her eyes. Opened them fully, clearly, and looked right at me.

“Bert,” she whispered in a thread of her normal crystalline tones. Brian and L got up quietly and left the room.

“Yes, Zaeahana, I’m here,” I said, touching her hand.

“Stay with me.” It was no more than a breath, but I caught it. With an effort the big eyes came up and met mine and I saw the truth of her feeling for me in them.

“Always.” I could do no more than whisper for the lump in my throat, but I held her gaze and we said things which needed no words. Then I bent and kissed her ears and cheeks and, after a pause, lightly touched my lips to hers. She sighed, closed her eyes and drifted into a deep sleep. She is still sleeping and I keep looking up from the screen to take peeks at her. She is looking better every minute.

I just cannot thank the hand enough for its help! For sending me to work with humans, and such humans, who took tealy in and nursed her and thought of giving her paracetamol! Gosh! I am just lightheaded with relief. Think I will catch a doze while I can.

November 24

My girl is going to be fine! She is she is! It is going to take a while, she will need to recover, but she is going to be all right, Kori says so! We are going on with the rubs, every three hours now, Kori says there may still be some fungus lurking on the lungs, and Tealy is stil a bit wheezy, so it makes sense. L also suggest we go on with mild dose of Paracetamol every six hours over weekend, to make sure fever stays down. She proposes one tablet then reducing to half tablet, which I agree with.

This morning my girl has eaten some pureed strawberries. Kori said she could eat pureed food or soup, nothing really solid yet. Brian had to go out and get the fruit, and I did the cute toddler thing, a very weary-looking toddler actually, but luckily the greengrocer’s shop was busy so we passed almost unnoticed. I am in such a good mood at the moment that fifty ladies could pat my head and I would not complain! Well, hardly complain then.

Saturday afternoon and I should be helping L with The Bear’s Lair, only I am in here with Tealy. She is sleeping a lot and her lungs are sounding easier. Can hardly bear to take my eyes off her. To think how near I came…

November 25

Have just had a blazing row with Brian and L. They want me to go to the colony today while they look after Tealy. They say I need a break, that it will do me good to get away for a few hours and see the family and get a breath of air. How absolutely could they? Don’t they realize how zlendt near I came to losing her? Don’t they know that I am never never never willingly letting her out of my sight again? Well, not until she is one hundred per cent better, anyway! My stupid family don’t need me, they can get on fine without me, I need to stay here with Tealy, and I told them so! L put on that super kind reasonable voice she does when she is trying to talk me into something.

“Tealy will be fine with us, sweetie,” she said. “You know we’ll take care of her, and we’ll call you in a second if anything serious happens and she needs you.”

I honestly felt like slapping her. Who does she think she is anyway? She thinks if she puts on that voice and cuddles me she can get me to do anything. Well I’m not her lap puppy, not anymore I’m not! I hovered up until I was right on a level with her face and spoke very loudly.

“Shut up, L! You can’t always make me do what you want. I’m staying here with Tealy today and that’s that!”

“Bert!” Brian had come out of the bedroom where he had been getting ready, and he was looking furious. “Don’t you dare talk to L like that! After everything she’s done for you this week!

That gave me pause for a minute, and maybe things would have calmed down, but then he said:” “You are evidently not yourself or you wouldn’t be behaving like this at all. Now get yourself ready and go on your day out. At once.”

I do not often outright lose my temper, but I just lost it then, good and proper.

“No, I zlanny well won’t, and you can’t make me! You and L seem to think I’m some kind of pet you can just order about. Well I’m not. I don’t want to go out today, I want to stay with Tealy and that is what I am going to do!”

“I can’t make you, can I not?” Brian’s voice was very serious. “Do you really want another order on your record, Bert?”

This should have taken the wind completely out of my sails, but for some reason, well, for the reason that I have been under so much strain all week, and I am over tired and completely at the end of my rope, it just snapped me.

“Go on then,” I jeered. “Give me an order! Write to Shana-Sherin! Sack me! Do whatever you like! I’m absolutely past caring!”

I turned on my heel and ran for my closet. Brian was looking stony-faced and L was crying. I didn’t care. I don’t care. Wish I couldn’t hear L sobbing through the wall. Well it serves her right! I am staying here with Tealy today. Just wish I did not feel so miserable.

Just finished doing Double. They offered me pizza but wanted to get back here to make sure Tealy’s ok. She is, she’s been listening, bless her! Only just got back from colony in time to help with Double. Yes, of course I went, and no, Brian did not give me an order.

Basically, once I had finished putting all that horrible stuff down here I sat beside Tealy and listened to L crying and Brian trying to comfort her, and I remembered all the great stuff they’d done for me, including the paracetamol without which Tealy would not even be here, for stars’ sake! I took a good look at myself in my little mirror, and a tired, white face with red-rimmed eyes looked back. I realized exactly how little sleep and how little food I have had this week. It must be some kind of explanation, or how could I have treated my absolutely dearest friends in that way?

Well, I need not tell you too much about the next bit, of course I rushed out into the den, apologised, a lot. Hugged poor L, a very lot, thanked them both for everything they had done for me, and I do mean that so very much, and then I got ready to go home for the day.

I got to Mum’s at about half past eleven. She took one look at me, then she whisked out the swinging bed, she and Dad practically manhandled me on to it, Dad handed me a tin cup and told me to drink what was in it. Next thing I knew Mum was shaking me gently.

“Son, if you want to get back for seven, you best get up now.”

I blinked and looked around. It was dark outside. I had slept all day and felt much better for it.

I arrived back at the Lair just in time to help with Down for Double, as I said, and now I am sitting here. I am just going to make sure Tealy has everything she needs and then I’m going to make up a bed on the sofa. I could sleep for a week!

November 26

Had sucha shock today! Everything started nice and normal apart from Tealy being here. She had peach puree for breakfast and L took her and gave her shower and hairwash. L had to help as Tealy still very weak and wobbly. When she was all clean she fluttered her fingers and made some pajamas, white with big yellow daisies on them, told me to throw old ones away.

L just had Tealy propped up on clean pillows when there was a kind of pop, and that old elf, Tealy’s boss, was in the room. Don’t know his name, but he had Bilby written on his mug, he came plus half-eaten breakfast last time, so I assume his name might be Bilby. Anyway, he was wearing a suit this time, carrying a clipboard, and not looking friendly.

“Absent without leave, Tealy?” he said, staring down his nose at her as she lay in bed.

“I apologise, sir,” said Tealy weakly.

“I was in no condition to ask leave, alert anyone or do anything before today. I have been stricken with green blight and am lucky to be alive.”

The old elf produced a gold pencil and scribbled on his clipboard.

“Hmm.” He said, peering at Tealy over his gold-rimmed spectacles.

“Well, to your credit, young Tealy, you did not bring this Green Blight back to Elfhold. When do you expect to be able to return to work?”

I did not give Tealy time to answer.

“Tealy will not be able to work until the new year, sir.” I said firmly. “She very nearly died. If you are agreeable it would be safe for her to return to Elfhold in the third week of December, by that time she will be no danger to anyone. But she needs to fully recover and get her strength back, according to our best physicians, or she may sicken again. No work for at least five or six weeks. The beginning of the new year should be soon enough for that.”

The elderly elf gave me a peercing look, then returned his gaze to Tealy.

“WE will expect you back in Elfhold no later than December 20,” He said disapprovingly. “You have leave of absence from work until January 2. Good day to you all.”

And suddenly he was just not there anymore.

Well, now we can all relax. Brian and L have been very good about this whole thing. L is helping me to care for Tealy, Brian has let me off most of the work I would normally need to do for him. We ar all adjusting into life with one more of us in the Lair.

November 30.

Wow in a box! Have I got news for you or what? First things first. These last few days have been uneventful, my girl is getting better each day. Sorry for the TMI here, but she brought up a load of disgusting green gunge on Wednesday night, nearly frightened us all to death, including herself. I called Kori at 3 AM, but she just laughed and clapped her hands. Apparently that was the best news she had heard all week. Since that little jolly, Tealy’s lungs are no longer wheezing like a pair of bellows and she is visibly improving every day. Thanks be to the hand!

Anyway, the news! You are not going to believe this, well, I can hardly believe it myself! Logged on to Facebook this morning to find the family in the uproar of all time! Guess what? Well, you know Barty came out of deep water? I think we all thought he was automatically going to be the old Barty, pompous, dogmatic, control freak, successful, “I am the big I am!” barty. Only it seems not. Going into WillSleep has permanently weakened him. Gwen says that he will never again be what he was. What is more, there is no way he can work at the moment. Only the hand knows if he will ever be able to work.

It seems that Gwen went to Minnimarni where she was living with the Handers and explained all this to her. Apparently Marni, who has been so quiet and listless for so long, suddenly became absolutely full of strength and determination.

“Then it’s up to me, ain’t it, Gwen,” she said. “I can take care of the family.”

“But Marni,” Gwen’s supposed to have said, “Your dissolution hearing. Barty can hardly contest it now. You can make a new life for yourself and your lings.”

“I would rather make a better old one for ‘em.” Marni said. “Besides,” and Gwen said she smiled in a way which made her quiet little face glow all over with mischief. “Disolvin’ it would be just too easy. The one fing Barty really don’t like is a woman what’s in charge of fings. Reckon ‘e’ll pay for all ‘e put us through if ‘e ‘as to sit in a chair for the rest of ‘is natural an’ see me puttin’ the food on the table an’ tellin’ ‘im what to do!”

So there it is. Marni and the lings are back at Barty’s big cube now. Barty is so frail that all he can do is sit, swaddled in blankets, in the warmest corner. Marni sees to everything. She has got herself a job in the foraging department under Tovey, it’s only in Admin but it’s bringing in the grains. Marni has always been a good forager in her own right so there is no need to draw colony rations. There she is now, ruling the roost and putting the wood in the stove and the food on the table. Barty does not dare lift a finger without her say so. I have to laugh! Serve him zlendt well right!

December 2

Hurray! We are in December! Soon it will be Christmas! I love Christmas and everything about it! L has done most of her Christmas shopping already. I wonder what I am getting? Gosh, what an awful thing to think! All the same, I can’t help but wonder! A new Netbook would be my first choice. I know dear old Nia is only a year old, but she is starting to show signs of wear an tear, I use her so much! Still I cannot have a Netbook every year! Maybe something nice and new from Gap? That would be good.

Anyway. This weekend has been its usual mental self. I am totally and I do mean totally exhausted. Three shows a week is a killer, but everyone is enjoying them, so I cannot say much, especially as it is not me doing all the work. Went to the colony today. Tealy is stil not well enough to come with me, although she is out of bed now for an hour or two each day.

I had a lovely time at the colony. Went on a huge round of family visiting. Saw Mum and Dad, of course, Mella and her tribe, Ikey and Vee, Vee’s getting an appreciable bump now and looking so happy, bless her! Um, who else? Went to see Tovey’s lot. There’s such a lovely atmosphere in that place. I sat in a chair and held little Alf while Lina’s other kids played on the floor and Lita romped with them. Tovey, Lina and I talked quietly together. They’re all so happy and I’m glad for them.

I popped down to Marni and Barty’s. My word! There’s another place where happiness reigns. The cube gleams like a new pin from top to bottom. When I went in, all the lings were doing something or other. Marni was cooking and directing them all. They were all looking absolutely happy. I was brought in, given a chair and offered some delicious chamomile tea. Barty was seated in a swing chair which was set high up, so that he was out of any drafts and also out of everyone’s way. He looked gaunt and frail, his eyes stared down at the swarming merriment of his erstwhile quiet and orderly home.

“Would you like a cup of tea, Bartle?” asked Marni. She did not speak unkindly.
“Yes.” The word was a whisper.

“Now, Bartle, I’ve told you about that before. Yes what?”

Marni was smiling, but there was iron in her eyes.

“Yes please.” The whisper took a wile, but it came.

I did not know what I thought about this and gave her an uncertain look.

“Don’t you worry, our Bert,” she said, climbing up to hand Barty his tea and rearranging his blankets gently. “I don’t bully ‘im, nor treat ‘im badly. But I won’t let ‘im be rude to me or the lings, not no more. ‘e’s got to learn ‘ow fings is done in this cube. We want to be ‘appy from now on.”

I hope Marni will succeed in making them a happy family. I think she will, she certainly has enough strength. They were all singing a song together when I left them, some were peeling vegetables, some washing cups, some sweeping the floor. It was how a family should be.

My word I am tired. Going to stop now and sleep. I do wonder how Babsy is getting on, I haven’t heard a word! I do think someone might let me know, I am supposed to be her mentor after all! Oh zlendt! Nia is acting up, I thought I was going to lose this whole entry! Low country with it, leaving it here, going to sleep.

December 3

Wahoo! Got a little scribble from Babsy today. Not the usual scroll, just a little bit of parchment on my pillow. It said:

“Dear Uncle Bert,”

“I has been terrible bad but I is getting’ better. The gardens here is beautiful and it’s lovely being with Mum. They says I’ll be back afore Christmas.

Love B.”

Bless her, I was so glad to hear from her I came rushing into the den to tell L. She was on the phone and she suddenly slammed it down in a hurry. I wonder who she could have been talking to that she did not want me to hear? She never usually cares if I hear her talking on the phone. Strange.

Oh well, I am going off to do some work and then I’ll come back and watch TV with my Tealy girl. She seems to have a fascination with antiques programs for some reason. She likes shiny pretty things. Will have to ask L to help me choose something especially shiny and pretty for her for Christmas.

And there you have it. I do not have a journal entry today except this one, because I have been sitting in here with Tealy, she has been alternately reading a magazine on my phone, watching TV and sleeping, and I have been writing.

It has been a very up and down time, as you saw. At times I behaved like a complete idiot, a not unknown circumstance, but we all got through it. I am just so, so thankful that things are more settled now, that Tealy is on the mend and we can look forward to a happy Christmas.

Well, now you have been brought up to date I am going to go and have dinner with Brian and L. I will try not to leave it another three weeks before catching up with you again. Thanks, as ever, for reading my ramblement. I hope these last few weeks have treated you well. Until we meet again, take care. Big smiles.

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