How could I tell?

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Thomas Kibata        Page         10.05.2007


                                   How could I tell?

"I'm afraid you may never have a desk job again. Employers prefer younger people! They shouldn't - but they do. You must be more flexible".

The man at the unemployment office had looked embarrassed. He'd still got his job. Age for age, responsibility for responsibility. The job was the only difference between us.But it was a big difference.
In a way I really missed my desk. It was comfortable. It had been part of me for so many years. It had brought in money - just enough - to keep things going for just me and her. But now it was over. Chapter closed,Dumped.
Did I care? For a while I cared a lot, yes, then less. Gradually the me that was defined by a desk gave way to a me that was  free.The bills were overdue and there were ugly scenes.
To be honest, I accepted the job that day just to show willing. Of course the pay was a joke - £10 in a day, if I was lucky.
But, once I was out in the fresh air, somehow it just didn't seem to matter any more. The world seemed full of possibilities; unexplained, undecided and only just round the corner. The country air felt fresh in my lungs, the sun beamed down and my whole body tingled with anticipation. I had not felt so good for years.
The heavy bag on my unfit shoulders seemed light as a feather. The twisting country lane stretched out in front of me with its high hedge bordering with a riot of white foxgloves and  sweet scented creamy honeysuckle. Songs from hidden birds in the hedgerow crowded the country air, lifting me up, leading me on.
Just a small country lane - but for me it held the promise of new and better futures. Each stride pushed memories of bitter setbacks into the past and brought with it the promise of a few pennies. It would have been easy to miss the flash of light. But it caught my eye through a gap in the hedgerow and, once noticed, it couldn't be ignored. Intriguingly, it glinted in the sun like an urgent signal.
I paused by my half open gate and looked down the path into an overgrown garden to my cottage. It had a wasted and secluded appearance and rather forgoten. It looked allmost as if it was unoccupied. The garden was patched, paint was peeling and the crumbling plaster off the walls seemed to have been repaired over many years with whatever came to hand.
A border of red luxurious flowers crowded the path that seemed to draw me towards the porch and the weathered wooden front door.Parting the thickly creeping green ivy, I found the hole in the broken window and through it could just see the hall. It looked old fashioned and uninviting. There was a single upright chair and a worn carpet. The hole in the window was big enough for a child to climb through and there were signs of glass trodden underfoot on the inside.
"What are you doing dear?" I froze.
Her voice was low with a lilt. A trace of Ireland.
Completely embarrassed, I felt like a youngster caught as if she was my mother. Her look was quizzing and  inquiring. Brown shoulder length hair was tied back into a single ponytail.
Her hair framed her wonderful gentle face. She was slightly built with a simple belted cotton dress that brushed her knees. Her eyes were pale blue - wary. A housewife going about her everyday chores, a routine suddenly disturbed ... possibly threatened.

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She wondered why I was home earlier than usual.
I stumbled over my apology.

Sorry dear... just passing...saw the broken window... work ......nothing... I felt stupid,Idiotic even. All I wanted was to escape back to the security of the road outside.
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
A calm question? More a command. It stopped my explanations dead.
She didn't wait for a reply but passed close by me, pushed open the front door and disappeared inside leaving her delicate scent of lavender in.

I hesitated,unsure of myself. But what was there to lose? ,i mean i had alredy lost ...

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