Friday, 17 May 2013

A day in the country

Rosemary laid her weary head on the plump pillows and closed her tired eyes. She was exhausted, but a smile was on her pale lips as she freed her mind from distractions and let it wander. Oh, it had been such a wonderful day. A perfect day.

He had managed to borrow a friend's car. A cute little MG, in racing green. He had been so funny as he gallantly helped her into the passenger's seat, closing the door with a flourish. Then galloping round, on his long legs, to the driver's side and leaping into the seat, without using the door at all ! Showing off !

She had been shy at first; this was only their second "real" date. However, she had seen him, often, around the office, where they both worked. They had nodded, politely, for a couple of months, until one day when her type-writer jammed. He had rushed to her aid and had given her a pointer or two on how best to manage the stubborn old machine. That was the day they had taken their lunch together, in the park and she had giggled as he shared his rations with a very greedy duck. They seemed to hit it off and she had been thrilled when he had asked her if she would like to go to the cinema. That had been fun, but this ..... oh this was entirely different. A whole day together.

He drove the little, open top sports car expertly through the city streets and soon they were zipping along in suburbia and on towards the countryside. It was early June, and already the day was very warm. Spring had lingered later than usual this year, rain and cold winds had swept the nation, as though reluctant to relinquish their hold. But, at last, the weather had changed; blue skies and fluffy clouds were ushering in the long-awaited Summer.

The scenery changed from neat suburban houses, with their little "postage-stamp" sized gardens, to open fields and hawthorn hedges. Fields of crops and sprawling farm buildings. Rosemary was a little quiet, at first, but Harry was so easy to talk to that soon they were chattering away like old friends. They laughed and told silly jokes to amuse themselves and Harry began to sing a popular song, with Rosemary joining in on the chorus. The MG powered along, its throaty roar competing with their singing. The roads were narrower now with tall trees lining the verges, their leafy branches arching overhead and forming a sort of "roof" through which the sun's rays shone and dappled the route with pools of sparkling sunlight. Rosemary's hair lifted and streamed out behind her, like a golden curtain and she gasped, exhilarated, as Harry swerved the car to avoid a pot-hole and she was flung, sidewards against the soft tweed of his jacket. She could smell his cologne and the subtler aroma of Palmolive soap and she blushed and hastily sat upright, suddenly flustered.

They took a sharp bend and there, just ahead, was a road sign beside a bright red telephone box and the road widened slightly as they drove into a picturesque little village. Old houses and trees stood in delightful, haphazard array around the large village green. There was a splendid sycamore among the trees and a large, creepered house alongside its humbler neighbours. The green was crossed by a couple of neat paths and over on one side stood a pretty, ivy-covered Inn. Harry steered the MG into the gravel-covered car park at the rear of the hostelry and brought the little car to a halt. He rushed to open the passenger's door and took Rosemary's hand to help her from the low-slung vehicle. As he did so, she felt a spark of electricity pass between them. Harry noticed it too and held her hand for slightly longer than necessary before gesturing towards the entrance of the "Roast Ox Inn",

" This looks like a nice place. Shall we have a break here ? Maybe some lunch ? " he asked. Rosemary nodded, suddenly shy and lowered her eyes, bashfully.

The Bar was full of locals and, what looked like, members of the village cricket team. Apparently a match was due to be played that afternoon, on the far side of the green, and already players and spectators were gathering for refreshment and gossip. Harry and Rosemary found a table in the relative quiet of the Snug and a cheery barmaid bustled over to them, drying her hands on her apron as she said,

" Oh hello, have you enough room there ? I'll fetch your drinks, you'll never get to the bar. We don't do meals, only sandwiches. What'll you have to drink ?"

Rosemary glanced at Harry, totally confused and embarrassed, what on earth should she choose ? In spite of her 18yrs, she was quite naive and inexperienced . She was not used to pubs and country drives and barmaids. It all felt rather thrilling and dangerous. Harry sensed her consternation and gently took her hand,

" Mmmm, it's so hot. Shall we have some cider and some sandwiches ?" and Rosemary nodded, gratefully.

And so they had drunk golden cider, so cold that condensation frosted the glasses and they had laughed over the huge, but delicious "door-step" sandwiches of cheese and pickle, served with large, brown pickled onions. They had both avoided the pungent onions, perhaps already thinking of what may lie ahead ? They had lingered in the Snug, listening to the merry banter of the crowd and the loud voice of a rotund, red-faced chap, who appeared to be 'holding court'.

" Oh, that's old Fred," exclaimed the barmaid, as she gathered their plates. "He always yammers on like that, on match days. He used to be Captain of the team, before he lost his leg in the War"

Rosemary smiled and winced a little at the booming voice and raucous laughter that followed, then handed the barmaid her empty glass.

" Tell you what," the friendly woman continued, noticing Rosemary's wince, " If you don't want to watch the cricket, you could always go down by the stream. Nice walk, it is. There is a path out the back, over that style in the car-park !" She glanced at the young couple, then winked and added, " Nice and quiet it is, down by there, me loves !"

In the darkness of her bedroom, Rosemary opened her eyes. " Who's there ?" she whispered, " Is there anyone there ?" The silence enveloped her and she closed her eyes and her thoughts returned to the perfection of the day.

Harry had taken her arm and guided her gently through the crowded Bar. His touch had sent shivers down her spine and robbed her of her ability to speak. Wordlessly, they strolled across the crunchy gravel and negotiated the rustic, rather ricketty style. She giggled as her petticoat caught on the rough wood and almost fell as she tried to free the lacy garment. Harry steadied her gently and, putting his hands on her slim waist, he lifted her carefully down to the ground. She caught her heel in a tree root and fell against him, her heart beating so fast that she was certain he could feel it. He looked down at her and his soft, dark eyes seemed to peer into her soul. She was about to throw caution to the wind, to pull his head down to hers, when a bird flapped in the nearby yew tree, and startled, they leapt apart. Then they dissolved into nervous giggles; they both knew.

The path led down a slight slope, trees and bushes lined the route and the hem of Rosemary's full-skirted, Summer dress, brushed against long grasses and ferns. Birds, high in the trees, sang their songs of praise and thanks for this wonderful day and the air was still, hot and sultry .... and full of promise. The path gave way to a mossy clearing, a sleepy, sunlit hollow, where a little brook splashed and tinkled over its rocky bed. Harry stopped, turned and took Rosemary's face in his hands, then gently kissed her. She melted into his arms and they clung to each other, not daring to speak, not wishing to break the spell. He took off his jacket and spread it on the soft grass and then they lay among the fading bluebells and the nodding, yellow cowslips and kissed again.

Tentative touches became more urgent. Gentle kisses became more passionate, arousing. Hearts beating faster, hands caressing, searching out buttons and fastenings. Hot breath on cheeks and necks, soft lips on bare skin. His hand on her naked thigh, her stockings discarded. Her hands beneath his sweat-soaked shirt, nails digging into his skin as they made love for the first time. His face above her, his arms around her, holding her to his heart. His face .... his face....

" Is someone there ?" Rosemary calls, again, half awake in the bedroom. But the room is still, silent. Her hands, the skin so thin and translucent, lay at rest on the coverlet. The scent of roses and lilac waft in through the open window. She closes her eyes again and drifts .... and drifts....

The figure in the shadows, smiles and draws his dark cloak around his shoulders.

" Yes, that was peaceful " he whispers, "She was 81. She had some happy memories to help her on her way."

And with that, Death slipped slowly out of the room. His work was done. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ This week's entry for Matt's Countdown Word Game is a rather sad story. Maybe you can write something lighter ? You will find rules and examples of past entries on Matt's page at

This week the words to be included are;


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