The newspapers called it Puddle Protest. Mary was thinking No woman is an island. The developers left an unfinished road on her estate. The council denied responsibility. Impasse. When the forecast storm came, she placed her white plastic garden chair in the middle of the puddle and sang songs until the media arrived. She quoted John Donne, Status Quo and once, when the puddle splashed against her knees, Blondie.
After the local radio station lost interest, she decided to stay and ignored entreaties to do otherwise. She asked neighbours to join her, but they looked away. She explained that the causeway was safe. They looked somehow frightened. She reached out her hand. It was not held or even acknowledged.
The boy from two doors away came with a paper boat and pushed it across. She picked it up and saw the writing. Us and Them. She looked up but he was heading back to homework or tea or scolding.
He came every day with a new boat which he pushed across to her. On the third day there was a button. She smiled when she looked at it and felt the loose thread on her coat.
The next day there were petals in the paper folds, and on Saturday a cardboard number two. She lived at number twelve, but people often thought it was number one.
In the second week he sent a small pencil he must have picked up on a trip to IKEA with his parents. They exchanged messages.
The sweet spices from the end of an Indian meal seemed to be included knowing the water would bleed their vibrant colours into the paper and the puddle. There were sherbet lemons wrapped up and intended to be eaten. She wrote saying thank you, and told him about her favourite sweets.
Then there was a mint with a hole in the middle. She knew a lifebelt when she ate one, and waded across, smiling.