‘Are you alright with dogs?’ says Clara, throwing open the door anyway. It’s not a great risk, though. Daisy is the cutest dachshund I’ve ever seen. With her long, lugubrious expression and sad brown eyes, she could be a circuit judge passing sentence even though it breaks her heart to see, once again, what humanity has been reduced to.
‘Hello little one!’ I say, bending down to reach out my hand for her to sniff. She does so – with such a tragic air – then reverses so awkwardly you’d think she was being remotely controlled by someone in the next room with a poor view of the action. Somehow she manages it, though, and leads me through to the living room, her tiny legs making heavy weather of the three carpeted steps up to it.
Even if Clara hadn’t immediately explained her relation to Peggy, I would have known they were sisters. Whilst it’s apparent that Peggy is the one with all the health problems, still, they share the same square face, the same way of holding themselves, lightly upright, their hands just-so on the armrests of their chairs, the same level, mildly amused sparkle to their eyes.
I have to say, Daisy fits right in.
‘I don’t live here,’ says Clara, heading off any questions I might have on that front. ‘I make it over as often as I can, though. Which reminds me, Pegs – you’re almost out of washing tabs. I shall have to pop out and get you some more.’
‘Righto,’ says Peggy – and the matter settled to the satisfaction of both, they both turn to stare at me.
Daisy has temporarily absented herself from the room, but she soon comes bouncing back with something squeaky in her mouth – a well-chewed plastic hamburger – which she places neatly and carefully at my feet, and then backs up.
‘Who wants it?’ I say, picking it up and waving it in the air.
‘Well – Daisy, I should think,’ says Clara.