Being Inspired, Maybe - 32

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

I had just had a blazing row with Abigale, a girl I had known for nearly a year, and it was our first holiday together.

It had been going very well until she received a phone call, one she said she needed some privacy.  I thought nothing of it at the time, but the next day I saw her ex-boyfriend.

I knew it was him, he had a very distinctive haircut and thought it was quite a coincidence that he was here at the same time.

Or not.

Normally stuff like that didn't bother me, but when she disappeared without telling me where she was going, I put two and two together.

I broached the subject, she went all defensive, we said words we shouldn't and I left.

We were not far from a wharf, and a boat, and about to leave on the morning cruise of the lake, I bought a ticket and went on board.

It was an old steamship, very quiet unlike its diesel counterparts, and after a brief exploration, I found the saloon on the lower deck, empty, and went in.  A seat in the corner, and time to think about what I was going to do.

Pity there wasn't a bar where I could pour out my troubles to a sympathetic bartender over a few double Scotches.

The seats were comfortable so I stretched out, closed my eyes, and felt the gentle rhythm of the ship's propellers moving it through the water.

I was not sure how long I'd been asleep, but it didn't feel like a very long time.  Outside, I could see the shoreline of the lake, mountainside soaring skywards disappearing into the low cloud.  It had been raining.

But now, unlike before, I was not alone.  Two seats across sat a woman about Abigale's age.  One glance and I took note of several differences, Abigale long blonde hair, this woman a shock of unruly red hair mostly clamped under a knitted hat, Abigale thin and athletic, this girl probably hated exercise as much as I did.

I was not quite sure why I was interested in the differences between them.

When she turned to look in my direction our eyes met.  She smiled.

"You're awake I see."

"I was unaware I was asleep."

"You were.  I thought it odd since I was given to understand people go on this boat to see the views.  They are quite magnificent."

Something else to note, she had an engaging manner and a voice that demanded you listen, but in a good way.

I was tired and not in the mood to have a pleasant chat about the scenery.  The recent argument was still at the front of my mind.

"Yes," I said and went back to looking out the window.  It was rude.

I checked several times over the next hour and noticed she had returned upstairs, perhaps realizing that I was not the chatty type.  Any other time perhaps I might have been.

When the boat started slowing down, I realized we had arrived at the first port of call.

That's when I saw her again, slowly descending the internal stairs that ended not far from where I was sitting.

"We meet again," she said, showing no signs of animosity.

"We do."

"Are you going to the farm?"

A few seconds later I remembered the first stop was a farm where visitors could stay for lunch, and watch demonstrations of a real farm at work, and have a look at a few animals, such as alpacas, up close.

"No.  Just here for the fresh air."

At which she wrinkled her nose, an interesting expression telling me I was trifling with her.  "Down here?"

OK.  Caught out.  "Sorry.  Not myself today."

She came over and sat next to me.  Not too close, not too far away.  "Paradoxically," she said, "neither am I or at least I don't want to be my usual self."

I knew I shouldn't ask, but did anyway.  "Who do you want to be then?"

"Somebody who isn't dying."

© Charles Heath 2019


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