Looking up, she smiled, ‘Well, you look worn out, Samantha.’
By Susan Brown
Climbing back up the hill was harder going than coming down. As I puffed upwards, it was clear that I was badly out of shape and decided there and then to get myself a bit fitter.
A woman with a young boy and a dog passed me by and I smiled at them. ‘Evening,’ I
gasped as we crossed.
‘Hello, Samantha, welcome to the village,’ said the lady as she passed by with her dog straining at the leash with the little boy holding her hand and sucking strongly on a lollypop.
Ten steps further on I realised that she had called me by name and wondered how it came to be that she knew me?
And now the story continues…
I was blowing quite heavily as I reached the vicarage, Jocasta was outside watering a flower basket.
Looking up, she smiled, ‘Well, you look worn out, Samantha.’
‘Am…a…bit.’ I gasped.
‘Well, if you go for long walks along the cliff tops, you will soon get your puff back.’
‘I hope so,’ I said regaining my breath a bit.
‘Tea will be in about fifteen minutes, the girls are having a shower; an absolute must after being around horses. Did you have a nice walk?’
‘Yes, it’s so lovely here. I’m sure I chose the right place to live.’
‘So you’ve decided then?’
‘Yes, if I can find somewhere suitable.’
‘Buying or renting?’
‘Renting to start with, then buying if everything works out.’
‘That’s lovely; I was only saying to Amy Venters a few minutes ago that I hoped that you’d settle here.’
‘Was she a lady with a dog and a little boy?’
‘Yes, that’s her. I pointed you out to her when I saw you coming up the hill. Was that okay?’
‘Of course; I just wondered how she knew my name—that solves a mystery. You didn’t speak a Doctor Sinclair by any chance?’
‘Yes, Brian popped round to see hubby for a few minutes, I may have mentioned it, why?’
‘Nothing—anyway, I had better go and clean up for tea, see you in a minute.’
Up in my room I changed into a clean frock; it was a yellow strappy number and was nice and cool. When I had touched up my makeup and hair, I was done. I didn’t bother with eye makeup as I wasn’t doing anything special and anyway, after a ’phone call to Olivia, it might get smudged.
I will have to careful what I say, because Jocasta is a bit gossipy! I thought as I went back downstairs.
We had tea in the dining room; the girls were already seated and were doing the usual sibling rivalry bit.
‘Phillipa, it was your fault that Poppy stamped on Miss Marple’s rose bed.’
‘Wasn’t—don’t blame me or Poppy; if you could keep your pony under control, she wouldn’t have panicked; Now Rosie, she’s a well behaved pony…’
They both stopped and looked up. I don’t think that they had realised that I had entered the room.
‘Sorry, Mummy.’ They said in unison.
I had to suppress a giggle as I sat down. David smiled at me as I sat opposite him.
‘Sorry about that, they do go on a bit.’
‘We don’t,’ said Jen crossly, ‘It’s just that she always thinks she’s right.’
‘I do not—well I am most of the time but that’s not the point…’
‘GIRLS, enough, you’re giving me a headache. Samantha doesn’t want to hear you two wittering on about who is better than whom!’
‘It’s alright, honestly; don’t worry about me, it’s nice to hear about your ponies and things.’
‘Don’t get them started on the ponies again. You mustn’t encourage them. Right who wants some mash with their sausages?’
We had a pleasant tea and the conversation did revolve around ponies, gymkhanas and all things, well, horsey.’
It was nice. David didn’t say much—he just beamed at everyone. Jocasta tried to hold an intelligent conversation with me but had to give it up as a bad job and just shrugged her shoulders. I just like being with a family that obviously loved each other. It was such a family that I most missed. I would have loved to have had children, but Olivia was reluctant. She wanted to have a life before being saddled with nappies and such, and after a while, we had stopped talking about it.
Now I reckon it was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t have kids as our marriage had gone sour and, indubitably, they would have suffered.
After finishing tea, I said that I was feeling a bit tired after the events of the day and I went to my room, for a nap.
Taking off my sandals, I rubbed my, still aching, feet. I think a blister was forming on the side of my foot and wondered whether it would get any worse.
I decided to lie down on the bed and shut my eyes for a while. After what seemed like a moment later, I woke up to the sound of a door banging somewhere. Glancing at my watch, I noticed it was nearly nine o’clock!
Stretching, I got up and went to the window. It was getting darker outside, and I remembered the promise I made to myself to ring Olivia.
Because walls have ears and I didn’t want my conversation to be overheard; I put on a cardigan and my sandals— luckily, the blister hadn’t got any worse—then after popping my head around the sitting room door to inform Jocasta that I was going out for some fresh air, I went outside.
On the other side of the garden was a bench, I sat down and contemplated what I would say to Olivia. I couldn’t think what to say so I just speed-dialled the home number and played it by ear, as they say.
It rang a few times and then it was answered.
‘Tom! Where the hell have you been, I’ve been worried about you?’
‘I needed to get away.’
‘I needed to think things through.’
‘What do you mean, think things through?’
‘Olivia, do you still love me?’
‘What a daft question; why do you ask?’
I noted that she answered a question with another question.
‘Is there anyone else?’ I asked.
‘Of course not; what sort of woman do you think I am?’
I took a deep breath. It was obvious to me what sort of woman she was and what I had to say next.
‘So when I came home early and saw you naked in bed having sex with another man, it wasn’t important and he isn’t someone that you were in love with. Did you pay for it then, was he a prostitute?
There was silence for a moment and I wondered if she had hung up and then I could hear here rather laboured breathing.
‘Look, Tom, I can explain, I have needs—’
‘You do? I don’t want to hear it. As far as I am concerned, we are finished; goodbye, Olivia.’
I stabbed the disconnect button and just sat there. The phone went again; looking at the number I saw that it was Olivia. Switching the phone off, I put it in my cardigan pocket and just stared off into the distance. I don’t know why I didn’t cry. I had this ache in my chest and the back of my eyes felt hot but I didn’t cry.
As I sat there watching the sun slowly disappear below the horizon: I felt it echoed my life, as it disappeared, the final vestiges of my old life disappeared with it. Tomorrow was a new dawn and I would make the most of things. I would divorce Olivia and start afresh. But why did I ache so much?
It was getting dark now and I could see lights go on around the cove. The sea reflected the dying rays of the sun and seemed almost on fire in places. Down in the harbour, I could see a fishing boat go out, its lights already on as it left the safe haven and went out into the lonely—and sometimes treacherous—sea. Not this night though, as the stars were coming out and only a gentle breeze ruffled the trees. It must be a hard life being a deep sea fisherman. I wondered if their wives looked out to sea, wondering sometimes, if their loved ones would ever return, when the weather was rough.
I heard a noise behind me, looking around, I noticed David.
‘Hello,’ he said,’ I love this spot.’
‘Yes, it’s so peaceful and lovely.’
‘May I sit down?’
‘Of course.’ I moved over to give him some room.
‘I hope you don’t mind my saying, but you seem somewhat troubled.’
‘Am I that obvious?’
‘Not really, but sometimes I pick up the signs, despite what Jocasta says. Is there anything I can do?’
‘You have been so kind to me already.’
‘No I haven’t, but look, remember if you need a chat you know where I am.’
‘I know it can be hard sometimes to talk about things, especially personal things that affect our lives, but it helps to talk, you know. Look, I’ll leave you in peace, but remember what I said and if you find it difficult to talk to me, Jocasta will always lend a sympathetic ear and neither of us are judgemental.’
He put a hand on my shoulder and then returned to the house.
By now the sun had disappeared and I could see more lights dotted around. Stars were visible in the sky and the waxing moon could be seen just above the horizon; it’s reflected glow shimmering on the darkening sea.
I nearly jumped as I felt something wet and slippery lick my hand. Looking down I saw the trusting face of Sandy, the lab. Her face looked up at me with enquiring eyes full of expression.
‘I haven’t got any treats.’ I said as she put her head on my lap.
Then she licked me again, perhaps sensing that I was unhappy.
Then the floodgates opened and I cried: I cried for the wasted years; the times I thought I was happy, the loss of love and so many other things.
Sandy didn’t move, she was there for me, non-judgemental and trusting. You didn’t have to put on a face for a dog, they accepted you for what and who you were.
After a while I stopped crying. It was funny, but I felt much better, as if a pressure valve had been released. Sandy looked at me again, licked my hand, woofed once and then went somewhere to have a sniff, her job done.
Looking up, I gasped. There were so many stars in the clear dark sky. It was so wonderful that my heart lifted to the heavens.
I had to be positive.
‘Right Samantha, no more snivelling. Pull yourself together girl.’
I had a tissue in my pocket so I wiped my eyes, glad that I hadn’t bothered to use mascara or eye shadow, so no panda eyes, thank goodness! ‘Clever girl.’
I got up and with a last look around the cove and a deep breath; I went back into the house.
I could hear heavy breathing behind me and realised that Sandy was being my little shadow tonight. As I walk in the kitchen, the other two dogs came up and said hello. Jocasta was baking or something and she looked up from her kneading or whatever and looked at me.
‘Hi, Samantha; everything okay?’
‘Perfect thanks; I must go and see an estate agent tomorrow.’
‘I know just the lady,’ she replied
‘I thought you might!’
To Be Continued...
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My thanks also go out to the brilliant and lovely Gabi for editing and pulling the story into shape!~Sue
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