Tuesday, 9 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 5

Stephanie knew she was running late, but had warned Nick of the possibility earlier in the day. The meeting had taken longer than usual since the client had misplaced an invoice she had needed to calculate the VAT.
She rushed forward a few steps, then stopped to consult her tablet for his directions.
Five minutes later, she stopped again, this time, to admire the view.
Like the week before, she couldn't believe this place existed.
A tiny cottage, hidden from view in the fairy garden. She had passed several people on the main path.
“For a secret, this place was popular,” she muttered to herself.
Only when she reached the fifth bench situated on the left-hand side of the path did she pause to look around. Once she was sure she was alone, she quickly stepped off the path and slipped into the trees behind the bench.
The trees and bushes were denser, but it wasn't too difficult to find the overgrown footpath.
He was waiting at the entrance.
“Glad you made it.”
She ran a hand through her hair, pulling out a few leaves that were caught in her curls.
“Me too.”
He waved a hand to his left. “Shall we?”
They walked a few meters away from the cottage into a small clearing.
“A picnic?”
“Had to offer you at least something to drink in this heat. Make yourself comfortable.”
While the pencil skirt wasn't exactly suited for casual wear, she managed to sit down on the blanket without making a fool of herself. Of course, holding his hand had helped. That was after she almost let go when she felt an electric current sizzle up her arm.
She only relaxed when it appeared that he hadn't noticed.
After making himself comfortable, he reached into a cooler camouflaged as a backpack and pulled out a bottle with two long stemmed glasses.
Her eyebrows rose. “Are we celebrating something?”
The bottle opened with a pshh.
“Yep,” he replied as he poured and handed her the first glass.
Bubbles tickled her nose when she smelled it.
“Sparkling apple juice. How appropriate.”
He grinned. “Can't have you drinking during working hours now, can I?”
He touched his glass to hers. “I ended it with Danielle.”
She took a sip of the refreshing juice. It was better than anything she had had before. Or maybe it was the surroundings.
“Why? I thought you kissed and made up after the previous time.”
He reached into the backpack and pulled out a prepackaged platter with cheeses and an assortment of crackers beautifully arranged around slices of apples and pears.
Waiting until she had helped herself, he leaned back against a tree trunk.
“I found someone better to spend my time with.”

Nick's words followed her the rest of the week.
When she was updating the books for her clients, or doing the laundry or shopping, it was as if he was haunting her. Not in a bad way, but somehow his presence was everywhere.
When she called the hospital, a sense of guilty relief enveloped her, when the nurse reported that “he was not having a good day”. Those good days were becoming less and less frequent.
She sighed after thanking the woman.
In the beginning, she naively thought that he would remember her and be the man she had married. Now she called first. It was painful to see him as lifeless as a dummy, or so aggressive that she often feared he would hurt her.
Shaking her head to let go of the depressing thoughts, Stephanie poured herself some iced tea and got back to work.

~ Read Ch 1  Ch 2  Ch 3 Ch 4 
~ Next week: Chapter 6