“You know, my love, sitting here with you, eating this cake, surrounded by half-cut grass brings back so many memories,” the old man said.
“Do you remember the day we first met? My mum and dad had me evacuated to Devon to escape the blitz, and I grew to love the place in the years I was there. That’s why I always went to Totnes for my holidays when I grew up. Loved it, I did. Who would have thought that I’d meet the daughter of the town hairdresser at a party in the vicarage, and fall for her straight away? Not the sort of thing you expect, is it?” he asked, as the woman sat opposite him looked at him over her glasses.
“As I remember,” he said with a chuckle, “it wasn’t the grass that was half-cut that day. Do you remember? I smuggled a half-bottle of rum into the party and used it to improve our coffee. Nobody else at the do could understand why we were giggling so much, but we knew, didn’t we?”
His face took on a distant, wistful aspect. “What became of those two young people? Where did all the fun disappear to? Oh, we had our share of good times, I suppose. We travelled well, given we were never rich. We went to France when most people thought Bognor was exotic. And we had some stuff, too. We were the first in our street to have a telly, the first to have the phone put in and the first to have a car – okay, it was an old banger that had a lot of trouble starting and even more trouble stopping, but it was a car, it was ours and it was paid for. Everything was paid for. We never had any debts, never owed anybody anything, and taught our kids to be the same. Not like the yougsters these days. Poor buggers come out of university with no job but thousands and thousands of pounds of debt. Then they go and get into more debt to buy all the latest things. Never heard of such a thing in our day, did we?”
He looked at her, still looking at him over her glasses with what seemed to be a somewhat quizzical expression.
“I something troubling you, my love?” he asked. “Did I say something wrong? Have I upset you in any way? I hope not; I have never, ever wanted to do that; never wanted to make you sad.”
She broke her silence. “You haven’t upset me at all,” she said. “I’ve been trying to work out where I know you from. Your face looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it.”
For the first time in very many years, Harry wept openly.
This short story was written in response to Kreative Kue 11, issued on this site earlier this week.