Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Friendship Affair

Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?

CHAPTER 4

“Hi Annie, have you been waiting long?”
Two bright red spots appeared on Stephanie's cheeks. “I happened to be in the vicinity to see a client.”
He sat. “Did you change your appointment to another day?”
Both knew Nick didn't need to elaborate on who the appointment would have been with.
She waited until the waiter, a young woman today, delivered his coffee, before replying. “I broke it off. Last week. After our talk, I realised that he was getting involved.”
She looked down at her hand resting on a picture of the lunch special. “I couldn't let it go on any longer.”
“Are you okay with that?”
She shrugged, turned the page on the menu and then turned it back. In the end, she pushed it away. “If you wonder about my emotional state, there is no need. I will find something else to help me forget for a few hours. Maybe join a book club. I saw a notice at the library—”
He took her hand. “Talk to me. We are still friends, aren't we?”
She nodded. They were friends. She could feel that.
He pointed to the door. “Let's get out of here and go for a walk. What do you say?”
He dropped a few bills on the table, and ignoring her protest, took her hand in his and led her to the door.
“There is a park close by,” he said and promptly turned right.
Two blocks down they entered the park and took the path to the left.
“It's like a fairy world,” she whispered turning around and around. Small twinkling lights were hanging from almost every tree. Next to the path were statues of gnomes and fairies. Even a dragon made its presence known.
“It is a local secret,” he said standing a few steps away watching her face.
“How do you know about it?” she asked when she joined him, still glancing here and there not to miss anything.
He laughed softly.
She stopped and stared.
He had a lovely way of laughing. Warm and sincere. “My Dad built this place when I was about nine years old. He was the city parks' landscaper. When the city wanted to build another exercise park, you know the kind with obstacle courses and jogging paths, the residents went up in arms. The city relented and brought my dad in to redesign the area. It placated the locals, and it has been a green area ever since.”
“It is beautiful. I think the kids must love this place.”
He nodded with a smile. “Mine sure did, when they were still children.”
She shared a grin with him. “Teenagers?”
“The youngest. She will finish high school this year. The boys are working already.”
She turned in a circle once more. “I would love to live in a place like this.”
“Quiet. Peaceful. Inspiring.”
She shared a sad smile with him. “Yeah. If only....”
Stephanie stopped and shook her head. This was her escape time. Reality wasn't going anywhere.
He waved her closer. “Come with me, I want to show you something.”

~ Read Ch 1     Ch 2     Ch 3
~ Chapter 5: Next week