‘I wanted to give you this,’ he said, and reached …

This week’s writing prompts are taken from William Boyd’s Restless, my current read.

They had spent the day indoors on this autumn Sunday. Rain beat against the windows and a squally wind had played rough with fallen leaves on the footpath. It lifted and whirled the paper-thin, tattered shapes until, bored, it piled them against the stone wall where the rain turned them into slimy mulch.

Now that same wind had driven the rain away in search of dryer leaves to harass. A golden sunset hovered over gleaming slate roofs, the sun puffed up as if to say, thank goodness that’s over, I’m back!

The restless energy building all day finally overwhelmed her.

She danced from the window to the couch and tugged at his hands, pleading to go to the park before dark.

He smiled his indulgence. Of course. A walk would do them both good.

She shifted impatiently in her wellies while he chose which coat to wear, searching through the over-full stand until he seemed satisfied. The coat he finally picked out seemed too heavy now the sun shone. A winter coat, not worn for months. Her own choice was easy – she picked it from the middle hook of the stand and shrugged into it, ignoring the scarf hanging with it.

two people on a chair swing at sunset

Dog walkers, families with children, and joggers, took advantage of the clear skies to walk or run the park’s gold-burnished paths. Her favourite place – the chair swing which hung from the sturdy bough of a beech tree – was empty.

They sat side by side, silent, content, idly pushing the swing with their legs.

He stopped, turned side on to face her, eyes serious.

I wanted to give you this, he said, and reached into the pocket of his too heavy, inappropriate coat. Or rather, I need to give you this, he amended.

He pulled out an envelope, crumpled from being squashed too long in the dark. Already open, she saw the envelope was addressed to her. Her breath caught at the tidy writing, a hand she knew.

She reached for it, but he held it back. He needed to apologise for opening it, for not giving it to her earlier, he had wanted to make sure the time was right.

The place too, she said, and smiled at him. Mummy and I always came here. We loved it.

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4 thoughts on “‘I wanted to give you this,’ he said, and reached …”

  1. “I want to give you this,” he said, and reached for a particular novel on the bookshelf behind him.
    “Why?” she asked. “What’s so special about it.”
    “I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s an historic romance novel set in the 17th century about a young couple whose love comes to a tragic and premature end.”
    “What, like Romeo and Juliet – or maybe Heathcliff and Catherine in Wuthering Heights?”
    “Sort of, but even better than those.”
    Shirley looked at the cover of the book and noticed the title – “A Fallen Heroine”.
    “What did she fall from or to?” she inquired mischievously.
    Hugo laughed. “Read the novel and find out.”
    Book under her arm, Shirley wandered to the kitchen to make a cup of tea for them both.
    Why did he want her to read this particular story? Was he trying to tell her something about their own relationship?
    True, in recent times, things had been rocky between them but they had been working on their relationship and she thought it was improving.
    Maybe Hugo didn’t feel the same way. Which is why he wanted her to read a romance novel full of tragedy.
    Did he believe their love was heading the same way?
    Only one way to find out – open the book and start reading.
    The opening paragraph held a clue. The description of the young woman sounded just like her, even though it was set hundreds of years ago.
    And the young man. Could’ve been Hugo’s twin.
    The more Shirley read, the more engrossed she became – until it became impossible for her to put the book down.
    “So, this is what love is all about,” she wondered. “I’ve been on the wrong track this entire time.”
    Suddenly, Hugo appeared behind her and, with a wistful smile, she fell into his arms and kissed him passionately.

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