Martin Laws had not – as yet – quite got the hang of mornings. They had an annoying tendency to start before he was ready. By the time he managed to get both eyelids co-ordinated enough to stay open together, the morning had been up and about for hours. It was bright, alert and ready for anything, while Martin was groggy, occasionally hungover… and always ready for bedtime again.
However, as Martin often consoled himself, the mornings had taken millions of years to get the hang of time. He, though – at just thirty – was still a relative newcomer to the whole business. He was almost sure that one day he would be able to make sense of time, but he didn’t know just when it would be.
He stumbled out of his room for the first time that Saturday morning and saw Lisa, in a faded pink dressing gown, standing by the front door holding a wad of letters and a package. It was the first time Martin had seen Lisa since their brief and awkward meeting – a week and a half before – when Lisa and Fiona had moved into the vacant upstairs rooms.
‘Morning, Martin,’ Lisa smiled at him. ‘There’s a parcel for you here.’
‘Morning Li…. What… a parcel? For me?’ Martin replied as Lisa handed him the package. ‘Oh, right. Thanks.’
‘Aren’t you going to open it?’
‘What? Oh… right. Yes.’ He looked down at the package in his hands as though she had told him it was some instrument used for removing wax from the ears of temperamental gorillas. Turning it over, he found it sealed with thick brown tape. Whoever had made the parcel wanted no-one to be in any doubt it was sealed.
Lisa edged closer to him.
Martin looked up from the package to see Lisa staring into his eyes, smiling enigmatically. He felt himself blush under her intense scrutiny. He felt as though she was expecting something of him, as though she thought they were playing some sort of game. He suddenly had the uneasy feeling she was about to whisper something, something very secret and very important, to him.
Instead, she just smiled and looked back down at the package in his hands as Martin peeled off the tape. He could now get the flap open.
Lisa stuffed the rest of the letters under her arm, tucked her hair behind her ear and held out her hands as Martin upended the package. A white plastic-mesh bag containing three indefinable black shapes fell out of the package.
Puzzled, Martin looked down at the bag of ball-like objects and then into the package, it was empty.
‘They’re juggling balls,’ Lisa said.
‘Juggling balls. Balls… that you juggle with.’ Lisa held up the string bag to show him. ‘Who would send you something like that?’
‘What? Oh… I don’t know. There’s no message or anything.’
‘An anonymous present? Great, I love mysteries, don’t you?’ Lisa looked straight at Martin again with that smile hinting they shared some great – and, possibly, tragic – secret.
‘Anyway, I need a shower. If you find out who sent them let me know.’ Lisa stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned towards Martin. ‘Unless they are from a secret admirer of course.’ She laughed and ran up the stairs.
Martin shrugged and took the opened parcel, and the balls, back into his room.