Helen and her dog Lola went everywhere together. She told everyone who asked her about the bulldog how, when a puppy, she had been able to hold Lola, all of her, in the palm of her hand. Lola was entirely the way she was now; soft, affectionate eyes, little stub nose, velvet ears and a stout, firm, body, only entirely in miniature and able to curl up and lay contented in Helen’s hand. Her proportions had remained the same, only she had grown bigger and stronger. Some bulldogs look menacing and angry but Lola looked gentle and eager for affection. Helen loved Lola and Lola felt the same.
Helen happily told people about her dog but if they asked how old Lola was, she would lie without hesitating. “Lola is seven,” she would say.
Lola was closer to thirty years old.
Helen herself was nearly sixty but her hair was dark and shiny, her skin as clear as the cotton clouds in the sky above her as she placed the last box of things into the back of her car.
“So that’s it then. You’re all packed and ready?” Edward stared at her behind as she pulled the boot shut. Lola frowned at him, her eyes locked on his thin figure.
Helen turned and nodded at Edward. She smiled a difficult goodbye kind of smile, though really she would not miss him or the way he would yank Lola whenever he walked with them both and asked if he could take her lead for a bit. Helen always apologised to Lola when they got back. Edward lived in the podoplex opposite her.
“Your new job is all the way down in Devon huh?”
“Yep,” she lied.
“That’s a long way from here,” he said still thinking about her behind tucked into tight jeans. “I guess the south west hasn’t suffered as much as other areas.”
“Apart from that it’s a good job,” she told him. “State of the art palliative facility.” That much was true.
Edward was a little over a hundred, with dark brown hair only thinning slightly. He was tall but skinny and wore silver framed glasses. Helen caught him looking at her a lot and always pretended she hadn’t noticed. “Once I’m settled I can drop you a mail,” she lied. Whenever she and Lola moved on they did it clean. No forwarding address.
“That’d be lovely,” Edward said nodding. “I’m due my Kadikrone shot next week so I’ll be feeling really good.”