Every time I think of her, I’ll write instead, Bill thought as he arranged the pencils on the desk, picking them up in turn and putting the smooth rubber tip to the cleft above his top lip, noting the firmly rounded virginal edges. Waiting for the first mistake that progress brings? Or dreading it? He wasn’t ready for progress or mistakes just yet and reached for the newspaper he had purchased on impulse with his coffee. Unable to concentrate on the lines of daily importance, he peeled off the sheets and discarded them into the open fire watching the flames lick and gulp the flimsy publication. When the last word from the outside world had been purged from his environment he stretched and yawned in satisfaction. Three hours he had driven; an exaggeration on the hour predicted by the printed directions which, despite their fancy colours and minute detail, had failed to let him know that the crucial junction twenty seven would be closed. Bill, who was not a natural driver never mind navigator, had cursed his way through surprise junctions, back roads and suspicious wary pedestrians who reluctantly gave directions. Eventually, he had found his way, and after leaving his car with the cottage owner had picked up supplies and trekked the remaining distance by foot. It had been a hard slog and he was covered in leaves and scratches.
Looking out of the window at the unspoilt views, he felt somewhat fraudulent appreciating scenery that he had bought his way into. He had hired the renovated barn which offered complete seclusion for as long as you could afford it. Despite growing up in the countryside he was ashamed that he was unable to name any of the birdsong, but could recite a breakfast menu from one of the top five restaurants in the city. He had come to get away, to reconnect with himself, like most people who have been softened and indulged by having everything on demand. He gave himself tiny credit for actually escaping at all “and best of all” he pondered, “I haven’t thought of her in”… and he flipped open his notebook, took a pencil and welcomed the first mistake.
“Every time I see him I feel swallowed up from the inside out” thought Poppy as she tallied up the newspaper accounts on the back of a sweet paper bag. Her peripheral vision grasped at his image as she tried to concentrate. His laughter pummelled the knots in her stomach and with secretly hoping he’d notice her absence, she retreated into the store room. She wrote out the list for the weekend paper delivery, happy that she no longer had to make the delivery herself. Poppy remembered the elation of finishing the round on a Saturday morning, the neon bag so light she felt she might float back to the post office. Poppy finished marking up, and hung her apron on the paint peeling hook. With a slightly boyish walk from her flat feet, she emerged from the storeroom pretending to look at everything else rather than behind the counter where the handsome lad would have the chance to ignore her eye contact. Eventually she found herself in front of the counter next to two giggling girls waiting for a suitable pause in the conversation.
“All done.” She exclaimed placing the delivery schedule on the counter and turning to leave in what she hoped looked confident and carefree. Glancing quickly at the paper, he reached out and grabbed her arm.