August 7, 2021

Book 5 Release 7.

By aarondkey

Then they were at the road between the field and the sea which brought them back to civilisation where there was a caravan park, a small fairground and a slipway to the sea. They turned their back on these delights and made their way up the hill. On the top there was a lonely shack in a field of green. Inside it was a surprisingly cosy space: sheltered from the strong winds, overlooking the bay and the nature reserve. They found seats by the window and inspected the menu with care.

“We haven’t been here for so long,” Paris said. “But it doesn’t seem to have changed.” She eyed the cakes in the display cabinet by the door and the blackboard covered in specials of the day.

“I will have Ham, Egg and Chips,” Timonthy said, thinking how simple food could be so pleasurable when well cooked but how he would normally scorn somewhere with just these simple selections on offer, untested.

“I’ll have the chicken salad and just some of your chips,” Paris said with a smile.

They ordered, got two coffees, sat and waited, looking out at the view.

“I’ve got a signal now,” Paris said and she looked at her phone. “Oh,” she said and fell silent.

“What is it?” Timonthy asked with a feeling of dread.

“Mum’s wants to know why I’m not working,” she said. There as a pause as the waitress brought their food over and a few second delay as they sorted the table out. “She says she’s coming over,” Paris said quietly with her eyes fixed firmly on her food.

Timonthy didn’t answer straight away. He concentrated on putting the right amount of salt and vinegar on his chips, after piling a portion of them on Paris’s plate.

“She knows you’re with me?” he said doubtfully.

“Yes she does. She says that she can get a ferry straight here more or less. She’ll be here tomorrow.”

She looked at him with such a worried expression that he tried to reassure her.

“I told you your mother cares about you.” Timonthy thought back to the days when being in France meant being somewhere distant, separated from your loved ones for weeks. It was an old fashioned idea he realised,

They ate for a while without talking, each thinking about the past. They had eaten here before when Johnathon was still alive. All five of them crowded around a table, all of them laughing usually at something that Johnathon had said. Stolid was always there, slightly in the background, always there though like a trusty safety net, dull but reassuring.

Timonthy found his mind travelling back to the gym again. One Christmas, Johnathon had tried to interest him in going in there. They stood together in the doorway while Stolid was lifting weights determined not to notice them. Timonthy had considered him while pretending to look at the equipment. Stolid was not the same man he had been when Johnathon first met him. He had lost that first glamour of youth, fresh skin and litheness but what was left was frighteningly attractive. Tastes changes and mature with age he thought: an adaption most useful for constancy. Not that it had ever been useful to him.

He realised with a sudden shock that he had never even realised his tastes had changed. He still looked for youthful glamour while secretly longing for the rugged wisdom of an equal. He meant to think about that when he was back to normality.

Stolid came to the end of his current activity and stood watching them.

“Are you going to join in?” he said slightly mockingly. “I’ve nearly finished.”

“Probably not,” Timonthy had said, viewing the equipment with a degree of suspicion. He had always kept himself fit, he thought, but without the need of all this paraphernalia.

Then he was back in the shack on the hill and Paris was looking at him in a quizzical way.

“I said do you want dessert?” she repeated herself clearly. It seemed that he had allowed his memories to distract him from the current life he was living: a bad habit he knew but he was not always in control of his mind.

“What about you?” he said cautiously. He did not want to deprive her by his refusal but he had little appetite at the moment.

“Shall we share a treacle tart?” she asked sympathetically as if she understood.