He stared down at the newspaper. He really should call the newsagent and cancel the delivery but so far the thought of one more person apologising for his loss was too much. Better to just let it be, it was only a paper. Making his way to the kitchen he popped the kettle on then opened the fridge door. Row upon row of milk bottles lay unopened. He really should call and half the delivery. He paused. On second thought, a cuppa out would be a nice treat.
He grabbed his jacket and swapped his well-worn slippers for a pair of dress shoes. He wasn’t sure if they went with what he was wearing, Judy would have told him that, he shooed the thought from his mind. It didn’t matter, he had no one to impress anyway.
He walked down the street, hands in his pockets, keeping his head down, terrified a neighbour would stop him and offer more condolences. He knew they were trying to be kind but right now more condolences felt like the last thing he needed. He kept his head down and kept walking.
He stopped outside the café and looked in the window. Should he go in? His mind flashed back to sitting inside, waiting whilst Judy had her hair cut, after what felt like hours she’d appear. What do you think? She’d say with a huge smile. “Beautiful Darling”, he’d say, never really noticing the difference but her smile was all that mattered and that was truly beautiful. He turned to leave, he couldn’t go in there, not yet.
Across the road was a new café. It looked too trendy, one of these barista type affairs. Not a proper café. Still, he’d made it out the house, made it this far, maybe he should go in. No, I’m not young enough he thought, imagining the hipster type with their skinny jeans frowning at his questionable attire. But as he stood and watched a woman walked to the door and stepped inside, as she did, her scarf blew in the wind, causing her to drop her handbag, contents spilling across the pavement. Without even thinking, he crossed the road and knelt to help her. He picked up the pages of her newspaper and tried to sort them into some kind of order.
“Don’t worry about that, I’m not really a newspaper girl anyway, more of a book fanatic”, she said then gave him a beaming smile.
“Me too”, he said then chuckled. He handed her the scrunched newspaper and turned to leave.
“What kind of books are you into?” she asked.
“Oh, a bit of everything.”
“Ever read Fahrenheit 451?”
“Of course, a few years ago now, but it’s a book that sticks with you?”
“Great.” She beamed her smile at him again. “I am meeting my book group over by the window, why don’t you join us? This month’s book was Fahrenheit 451.”
“We’re a friendly bunch, besides I think I owe you a cuppa for helping me but I’d feel bad holding the group up any longer.” That inviting smile came out again. He looked up and down the street. He had nowhere else to be.
“Sure. Why not?” He said. Together they stepped through the door. Despite the nerves, he felt excitement, a new chapter was about to begin, it only took one small step.
“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”Patrick Carman, The Tenth City
Change is often both terrifying and exciting whether that be a new house, a new job or even just a new chapter in life. I’m always curious about how people come to the decision to make that change, I find it’s often one small moment that causes them to take that leap of faith. Hope you enjoyed my tale capturing that moment.
I’m hoping to create a local book group to share my love of all things book related. I attended one years ago, it was at a local arts centre which sadly lost funding and closed. The group tried to keep going but the right venue was never available, pubs were too noisy, or had awkward seating or couldn’t reserve tables, the local bookshop and library both close at 6pm so were unusable and we couldn’t guarantee the numbers to hire a dedicated space, so it fizzled out. I am hoping to start a new one, hopefully with fresh eyes and excitement after (reportedly) more and more renewed their love of reading in lockdown. Wish me luck.