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We sat amongst the Scrabble cushions, perched on the unforgiving bench, and sipped our coffees seriously.
I shifted on the uneasy foam. I was S for sorry.
And so the first act played out in the café, the audience secretly as eager as young chicks squawking for titbits. I watched the lunching ladies boring into their coleslaw and the writer in residence feigning an intense interest in his laptop as we both skirted the issue.
They were licking their lips by now, mentally running through the scenarios: more than friends, too public for a furtive frisson, definitely not married. We were, after all, talking to each other.
Could they see two years of ups and down etched into our faces – death, divorce and Dwynwen. Probably not. But the writer, I glimpsed, had started taking notes.
You were looking right at me, your eye shadow silver grey.
I sensed the collective munching slow to a cautious chew as I reached out and took your hand. When you squeezed back, I almost expected a standing ovation from the onlookers.
Reality television producers would be drooling about our journey and the front row would be shouting for encores.
I thought I heard a man from the back cry, “Hug her.” I took the stage direction and we melted into the moment.
“It’s like Play for Today.”
“Waiting for Godot meets Casablanca,” I ventured a smile.
It was going to be okay.
The second act moved to the churchyard, gravely reading the stones and piecing together lives shared then torn apart as we crept along the rain-washed path.
A pheasant darted through the grounds, running from its invisible assailant, while the trees entwined their leaf-scattering braches to conceal its escape.
“Winter’s coming. I can feel it seeping through my boots.”
I nodded. We had both been contemplating the cold nights alone, the Christmas meal around an empty chair. It was like staring into the eternal blackness. It was suffocating.
The dog walker glimpsed it in our eyes as he passed, the dog whimpering at his feet. I watched him hurry on by as I squeezed your hand again.
“I’m not letting go,” I said as we passed a sign by the blackened-iron gates. It read: “Cherish the flowers.”
The man from Brambles Garden Design arrived just in time for the third act, played out in the car park amid mossy cobblestones and the wagging fingers of the windscreen wipers.
I noticed he had dismounted his lawnmower, his Dayglo cagoule flapping comically in the gale. He was fiddling with his gloves in the back of the van now, whiskers twitching.
Two lunching ladies emerged from the entrance, acknowledging us with a glance as they continued their discussion of scan results and appointments with the specialist. We watched them walk to their cars as we huddled under benevolent branches.
The afternoon was setting in. The rain, rested from a momentary respite, was gathering its forces in time for the school run.
Another hour and Brambles man could knock off, heading home to light the Catherine wheels in the back garden for the kids.
He cleared his throat as we kissed.
There would be no fireworks for us tonight. Not this year, anyway.
But, as we parted, the sparkler we had shared was still alight.