Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Rose Miller

The Meeting

He was in the clearing now, frozen to attention, listening. It was only the wind stirring the leaves, the crack of a branch tumbling at his feet. Levering it up with his foot, he started stripping off the leaves and twigs as he made his way towards the woodshed on the opposite side, whipping aside the brambles trailing in his path.
Even in the fading light, he could see how much damage had occurred since the last time they’d met. There was a gaping hole where the door should have been, some splintered fragments of wood on the rusty hinges bearing evidence of hasty removal. The wall on one side was collapsing inwards, shedding broken bricks and crumbling mortar in a cascading heap. Fallen branches creaked against the other side, the crinkled leaves rasping in fitful gusts of wind. Broken roof tiles lay scattered over the remnants of a cache of logs; hornbeam and birch, it would have been, he thought, scavenged for fuel long since, no doubt. At least the axe-scarred stump was still in the same place, none the worse for wear. He sank down on it, wrapped his jacket close, rooting himself. He had all the time in the world, waiting for her.
The multiple problems, decisions, choices to make, ranged before him relentlessly. He felt certain that if they could manage to get away, start a new life together, everything would fall into place. Rouen was still too close, her father was bound to track them down, but he could chase up some of his contacts in Evreux, or even up towards Caen. He’d find a job in a sawmill, try some of the farms, if nothing else. There’d be no shortage of work in a war-torn country trying to get back on its feet again. If they had a child, she could get in touch with her family again. They’d be forced to accept him as her husband then, whatever they thought of his origins. A beetle was picking its way cautiously around his boots. He watched its progress, as he considered the problem of her mother. Finally he shifted, impatiently. They’d have to find someone else to look after the old woman now. There’s always a way round these things, he told himself, watching the beetle tunnel into a pile of leaves.
He started up, hearing the crunch of leaves and crush of fir cones, the rapid passage of someone with no time to spare. She was making her way across to him now, casting hasty glances over her shoulder as if in flight. Reluctantly captured, shivering in his enfolding grasp. He felt her body beginning to relent, collapsing against him. Then she was twisting out of his arms, struggling to release herself. She stepped back, shaking her head, clutching her arms. Finally meeting his eyes.
He knew at once what she was going to say.

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