Reggie looked up at their guttering for what felt like the one-hundredth time. The extortionately priced dripping-icicle lights he’d had a mild heart-attack clipping up in early December had been unhooked by storm Archibald, and were indeed trying to smash their way through the bedroom window. Reggie could feel himself getting clammy, and gripped hard at the wooden ladder to stop from fainting then and there.
‘Are you sure you can’t reach out of the window and hook them back on, Belle? You’re always comparing yourself to Mr Tickle in Asda when it comes to reaching things off the top shelf. Have you had a real try?’
Belle gave Reggie her most withering expression. In next-door’s garden, some early flowering crocuses wilted out of respect. ‘Blessed as I am with long arms, Reg, I can’t be seen hanging out of the bloody window! Number eleven’s security camera would record me. Only takes one phone-call before I get a letter from the social enquiring as to why I can go all Spiderman at home, when my back’s too bad to hold down paid employment. No, suck it up and get climbing.’
Tears in his eyes, and no hope left in his heart, Reg mumbled, ‘But I’m scared of heights. You know I am, Belle. I went up once, didn’t I? Proved my love with a set of eight ice-white icicles, so we wouldn’t be the only house with a neglected roofline. If you loved me…’ He tailed off, seeing scorn start to twist Belle’s mouth into a worthy comeback. Taking a deep breath, Reggie put his foot on the first rung of the step ladder, and climbed – slowly – until he was high enough to rehook the misbehaving icicles.
Belle, patted his ankle, and sighed. ‘Thank God we live in a bungalow.’