A short piece of fiction.
“Take a nice deep breathe, inhale through the nose” “annnd exhale through the mouth” Zoe gingerly opened one eye to glance around the room. Unfortunately so did Jess who caught her eye and pulled a face making Zoe snort. The instructor opened her eyes and cast a disapproving look around the room. Bloody newbies, Zoe could see the thought flash across her perfectly botoxed and tanned face before vanishing as quick as it appeared.
Zoe made the effort to restrain herself for the last 5 minutes of the class and that meant not looking in Jess’ direction at all. Of all the things she had dragged her to recently this class had to be the worst. Jess thought she needed to relax and maybe she was right however this mediation/therapy/hugging class or whatever it was, was definitely not the way to go. She owed her for this she thought, big time.
Jess waited for her on the outskirts of the class, just hovering as was her way. She was great with one on one but groups tended to make her retreat inside herself a little. Zoe made her way to her and grabbed her, dragging her out of the class in mock anger. Jess chuckled behind her. What started off as a small giggle quickly escalated into a fit of hysterics, annoyingly it was the most infectious laugh she had ever heard and before long Zoe was unable to stifle her own laughter.
“C’mon you lets get out of here before everyone looks at us like we’ve gone mad” Almost running out of the leisure centre the two women linked arms until they reached the car. The plum coloured Peugeot 106 was sat nestled away in the corner of the car park being gently hugged each side by the weeping willow as if it was protecting it from the outside world. A bit like Jess is doing with me she thought. Keeping me busy, wrapping me away from reality so I don’t have time to focus on other things. Zoe became aware of a rapping noise rousing her from her trance like state. The rapping was coming from Jess’ lilac nails rhythmically drumming against the roof of the Peugeot. “Got all day me like” she said, “no rush” The words were laced with so much sarcasm Zoe wondered how she didn’t choke on them as she spoke and with a last dramatic eye roll she launched herself into the passenger seat.
They spent a few minutes looking at each other in the car. Zoe cocked her head slightly to the left as if nudging something. Jess screwed her mouth up to the side as if chewing in reply leaving Zoe to just shake her head and shrug. Instinctively Jess reached out to touch her face gently tracing her finger down her cheek just skimming past her ear and let out a sigh. “OK” she smiled “I know the perfect place” she popped the car into first and eased them out of the parking space and away from the willow tree.
The drive was spent in silence. Heart FM filling the emptiness where words usually take over. Both just content today to listen to Justin Bieber before jumping back decades for a bit of Take That. A Million Love Songs always was and still is one of Zoe’s favourite songs. She became aware of Jess’ voice. Oh my god she is singing, she is such a bad singer thought Zoe. Unperturbed by the fact she was completely tone deaf and both windows were open thanks to the unusual October heat, Jess carried on warbling away getting louder and more dramatic as the song went on. She loved how Jess could do that, just pull her out of herself like that, make her smile and forget all the other crappy stuff gong on.
Zoe relaxed into the rest of the drive knowing exactly where they were going. She must have planned this she thought. The concrete landscape gave way to greenery and fields. The modern 2 up 2 down new builds on the edge of town becoming smaller in the wing mirror. Zoe loved this area, the point where the dual carriageway ends and the road leads them to a small dirt path turning less than half a mile away. The out of towners don’t know about this route. They will be flocking in via the main path, stuck in traffic in this unseasonable warm weather they were having. The tourists loving that the sun was still with us and revelling in the fact they could hit the beach without their winter Parka’s and wellies.
They park the car and not surprisingly Jess heads off to the boot and pulls out a picnic basket. She hadn’t seen that for a while not since their first date all those years ago she could still remember it as if it was yesterday. The sneaking around, secret rendezvous and midnight picnics. It was so romantic back then, the memories of it all came flooding back and not for the first time Zoe so grateful to Jess for her patience and understanding. I mean it couldn’t be easy loving someone who lost all memories of anything previous to the accident. But she did, she loved me despite knowing it may never be reciprocated, and slowly after months and months of therapy the memories returned and so did her love for Jess.
They walked across the yellowing grass navigating through the families taking advantage of the warmer temperature by pulling out the bbq’s one last time. Their destination was at the other side of the sand dunes accessible via a walkway of rickety old wooden slats now half buried in sand. Zoe wished she had her flip flops on, how she loved feeling the sand in her toes. As they reached the summit Jess stopped short of following the trail to the shore, turned to Zoe and then looked back once more.
The view before stretched out for miles. The tide was out but you could still see the water licking at the horizon trying to reach the blue sky but never quite making it. It left shapes in the sand in it’s hurry to leave as if the more it pushed back the sand and dug it away the quicker it would reach it’s destination. The effect was stunning to see. The sand almost mimicking the waves in their absence so no one would be disappointed to find the water not there.
Zoe turned her gaze back to Jess. Jess, just standing there with a velvet box in her hand and a nervous smile on her face. Zoe couldn’t hold back the tears when she saw what Jess was holding. “But, I thought you said it was gone?” “It was to you” said Jess struggling to keep her own tears at bay “It was gone until I knew you had come back to me. I would never of given up waiting, never” Jess got down on one knee “Zoe will you marry me…………again?”