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And there she was, in my camera lens, a breathtaking beauty I had not seen in years. And here she was, all alone on her walk, looking as beautiful as the day I first meet her, barely aged, as if time hadn’t touched her.
Perhaps I’d better step back a little, you might have the wrong idea right now.
I hadn’t been feeling very well for a few weeks now, a nasty winter virus that left me coughing, sometimes quite violently had more or less left my already dried out throat feeling torn apart. And then there were the sleepless nights.
I literally hadn’t seen daylight in days, the cough was so bad it woke me up in the night, coughing up phlegm and sometimes bile, and at worst, pure vomit, that old flame no one wants to reacquaint with. All of that had contributed to my living almost like a quasi vampire, minus the partying, bloodlust and death count, and sleeping tablets hadn’t helped much. Take two maximum I was told by the doctor, and no more. Taking one by itself was useless, two did the trick, but once I was awake again, that was it, no going back to the land of nod for me for hours, usually the early evening.
I was feeling tired most of the time, and severally put upon at work. Actually taking sick days was seen as something that had to be investigated, and to avoid that I managed to arrange to use some of my leave instead.
And it occurred to me that I should try to make the most of this time off. If after all I can’t sleep in the morning what can I use that time for? I had to consider my neighbours who would still be asleep (hopefully) and I weighed up my options.
Playing video games or movies was tempting, but the noise would likely make them bang on the wall, and even though it’s a solid brick wall it doesn’t prevent me hearing much of what they get up to with each other, and sometimes some friends.
I didn’t have the strength for exercise, or the motivation either.
I needed something else to do.
My main hobbies have taken a backseat in life of late, so I considered which of them might be best to resurrect right now. I was something of a gifted artist in my teens, not a prodigy mind you, but I could draw more or less anything I put my mind to. But I never pursued it as my high school art teachers had a certain way of sucking away any fun and creativity in their classes, everything had to be done by the book, no exceptions, no deviations, everything must be done when they told you to do it.
I still doodle from time to time, it’s not as good as it used to be, nowhere near, but I know in my heart of hearts I could get better with time and practise. But even then I had little motivation to draw anything. My house is far from drab but when you’ve been in the same place for days on end with no change of scenery, well, you need new sources of inspiration.
I thought of one of my newer hobbies.
I looked at the clock.
If I grabbed a shower, and my camera gear, got dressed in something warm and sensible and made a little packed lunch and grabbed some breakfast, I could beat all the early morning rush hour traffic and get to one of my favourite beauty spots further up the coast and to the north.
And here I was, it was something of a tourist magnet in the spring and summer, and even in the autumn it was still popular. But then a castle on the coast in England has that effect on many people. A proud solid reminder of our history, our past remembered in a large tribute to the imagination and dedication of previous generations.
They are a source of a great romanticism, and a source of tremendous inspiration to the imagination to many budding artists. And this particular castle was a solidly built reminder. It had been taken in its history, almost all castles have, but it had never been abandoned or left to ruin like so many others have.
But their not for everyone’s tastes, obviously. And the woman I was about to meet again for the first time in years had never gave any hint they were to hers.
My camera was resting on its monopod, a great addition to my gear, and a must for anyone who wants to get some added stabilisation to make their pictures look better than you would get with just going hands free. A tripod gives even better results, but does tend to be a bit more cumbersome I find, and today I wanted to be as fast and agile as I could be. Speed was key here, and I often found myself jogging from one spot to the next, getting my shot lined up and seeing if a different angle gave a better picture.
I’ll admit, freely, I am far from the best photographer you might ever find, I doubt I could even be called a good photographer, but I am if anything, an enthusiastic photographer.
I have a preference for scenery and landscapes, I’ve never been into portraits or pictures of people in general, beyond the pics everyone takes on family get togethers, or work dos. Taking pictures of strangers while I’m out and about seems a bit too voyeuristic to me, especially if you don’t have güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri their permission.
A friend of mine had almost gotten into a punch up with a man who was taking photos of children playing in a playground. When asked why he was taking the photos, the man pointed out that there were children playing in the park who were from a different estate, he seemed to be under the impression that only the children from his estate should be playing there. My friend asked if any of his kids were playing there, and he replied he had none. The man eventually left after it was pointed out he was taking picture of children without the parents knowledge or consent, and there were rather nasty labels that could be applied to someone doing that.
And right now I was debating whether I should take this woman’s photo, and risk being labeled by one of those terms.
There she was, right as I was about to take my shot, yet another person walked into my frame. It happens all the time, it’s unavoidable and no one’s fault, life after all is for everyone and I’m far from the only person who’s going to want to take a walk around a beauty spot at any time of the day. But then I noticed her hair, a dark auburn, which caught the sunlight and seemed to gleam in places with other shades of autumn.
I’ve always had a soft spot for redheads, especially those with auburn hair. To me it is the colour of autumn, caught in someone’s hair, and makes for quite a wonderfully unique statement. I’ve known a few ladies blessed with this hair colour, and have often wondered why some of them would chose to dye it a dark colour or even try to go blonde. It may work, even work very well, but it always looks blander compared to the wonder nature gave them.
But there was something rather familiar with this hair and it’s wonderful warm colours.
I knew her, hadn’t seen her in years but used to work with her at the same job I still held now. She had left and gone elsewhere maybe some eight years ago or so, but she had left a fairly massive impression on me, right from the moment I met her.
Her leaving had left a strangely substantial hole in my life. One I had never been able to quite accept, at least at first, but I had eventually realised, it was one shaped just like her.
You’re probably thinking I was in love with her, and you’d be right. But it was a certain kind of love.
Probably the worst type.
And there had been tension between us.
Would she even remember me now?
My finger paused on the tigger, part of me wanted to take her photo, zoomed in as much as I could you couldn’t really make her out that well, this was a wide angled lens, and to change lenses now I felt would look suspicious. I wondered where this paranoia came from. Photographer’s after all change lenses all the time, unless they carry two cameras as I’d seen a lot of pros do on various online videos. Saves the chance of getting the camera’s internal sensors dirty, wise move of course, but rather expenses.
I realised she was actually moving towards me, had she seen me? Recognised me? Was she coming this way to say hello? Or just to ask what I thought I was doing pointing a camera at her. She couldn’t have made me out, my face was hidden effectively by the camera, and when she knew my hair was dark and fuller, now I shave it bare.
And yet she continued to walk my way, looking at me.
Then I remembered that we were both on the same path, of course she had to head towards me to get to wherever she was going. And as she did she filled up more and more of my lense, she was in range now, I could take a perfect mug shot and get every single glorious detail of her features.
I kept my finger on the trigger, and with my free hand adjusted the lense to allow for her movement.
So, so tempting.
And I cursed myself for being a coward and not taking it.
And she was almost upon me.
I took a deep breath, summoned my courage, breathed out and popped up from behind my camera with as a big a smile on my face as I could muster.
“Hello Natasha.” I said. “It’s been quite awhile, eh?” My visit to the vault of cliched opening lines couldn’t have been more traditional, and her reaction couldn’t be any less classical. She stopped dead in her tracks, both feet stuck together, as if somewhat planted, and her mouth opened in shock as her jaw dropped almost to her chest and her eyes widened.
And she just stood there, looking me over, wordlessly mouthing my name, unable to believe I was there, her cheeks were somewhat rosy, as if embarrassed, I wondered if mine were doing the same.
“So, how are you?” I asked, trying to break the ice a bit, at least to get her out of her state of shock.
“I’m, I’m pretty good. Thanks.” She managed to compose herself, her stance relaxed but her feet stayed put, her arms hung somewhat loosely by her sides. “How about you? God it’s been years.”
“Yeah, güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri I got to be honest, never thought I’d see you again.”
“That would be two of us then.” She still looked like she was seeing a ghost. “So what brings you here then?”
“Thought I’d get a bit practise in.” I said waving the camera slightly.
“Oh, taken anything thing interesting?”
“Only if you want to strike a pose for me.” I joked.
“I see you’ve still got your sense of humour then.” She smiled, a bright smile that showed off some rather bright teeth. She must have had them bleached at some point, when I knew her, she was a notorious coffee drinker and while she obviously brushed her teeth, they had never looked anywhere near That bright and white. “So, how are you keeping?”
Now here’s what was probably the oddest thing about this cough I had. The cold weather didn’t seem to aggravate it. Right now I felt as fit as a fiddle. In fact the last day or so, the cough had more or less vanished, bar the sessions in the middle of the night that is. Still, honesty is the best policy, they say.
“Had a bit of a cold awhile back,” I admitted, that was close enough I suppose “pretty much back to normal now. So what have you been doing since you left the old place?”
At this, her face seem to lose some warmth, as if remembering bad times. She and her boyfriend had left the area to get new jobs elsewhere, and she had dropped hints they were wanting children and maybe marriage. And I could see no sign of either a child nearby, or a ring on her naked hand. In fact there were no rings of any sort on either hand, she had often wore at least one ring when we worked together. Of course, time can change many things, she may have simply fallen out of the habit of wearing one.
“Things didn’t quite go the way I hoped they would.” she admitted with a sigh, and a slightly bowed head.
“I’m sorry. How are you doing?”
“Oh not too bad, got a, got a bit of a settlement. Moved away up here, have my own place. Great views. Nice little local pub to visit. Taken up walking as a hobby, keeps me fit.”
“And with views like this, you’ve got plenty to inspire you too.”
“Yeah, beats living in a busy town, so much more quiet, it lets you think more.”
“That’s why I like places like this so much.”
“I remember you saying that a few times.”
“So, are you not working then?” I hazarded a guess here.
“No, not right now. Kinda living out of my savings. You still working at the old place I guess?”
“Yeah, as miserable there now as I ever was. Something never change eh?”
“True, that’s very true.” She laughed, her deep brown eyes sparkled as she smiled, oh god how I had missed seeing those eyes do that. “So are you going to be staying for long?”
“Oh this is just a day trip. Did you say you were living locally?”
“Yeah, well, it’s a static, a caravan at the local camp site. Nice, quite large, larger than I thought.” There was just a slight tone of embarrassment to her voice, she had always been quite verbal about how she wanted to go up in the world, move onto bigger and better things. Owning a static caravan didn’t seem like it matched up with that kind of plan.
“That’s got to be a couple of miles out from here, if it’s the one I’m thinking of.”
“Yeah, I was about to head off back that way till you popped up like the ghost of christmas past.” she smirked with a hint of mischief in her eyes.
“Well I don’t know about christmas past, or much about christmas itself till it’s actually here, but I can tell you your future could include rain judging from the clouds over there and the temperature dropping.” Which was true enough, it hadn’t been the brightest day I’d ever seen, by winters standards it had been positively glorious in the morning when I had finally got here, now at barely eleven am it was getting even colder. And Natasha hadn’t brought an umbrella or worn a waterproof coat. She was going to get soaked.
“Damn, I knew I should have brought my rain coat.” She didn’t actually look annoyed at all, which was odd as I remembered her being someone who hated the cold, never mind the rain.
“I could give you a lift up.”
“Oh I don’t want to impose.”
“Nonsense, I’d be heading that way anyhow to go home.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive”. With that, she bite her lip as she was deep in thought, pondering it over, then suddenly smiled brightly, with her eyes as well as her mouth and nodded in agreement. Her chest heaved deeply as she breathed a happy sigh of relief.
“Thank you, I’m going to owe you for this.”
“Not at all, not at all.” I said with a smile of my own. “I’m parked near the village green.”
“So I gotta wonder, you seemed to be quite busy earlier when you were bending over next to your camera. Did you, by chance, take a pic or two of me?”
“I got to admit, I did think about it, but I much preferred talking to you.”
“Oh güvenilir bahis şirketleri you charmer, we might have to fix that” she winked at me with an even bigger smile on her face as we made our way to my car, I held up my camera.
“Would you like to hold that pose?” and before I could finish asking, she obliged, not an over the top pose, just standing perfectly still, one hip dipped lower than the other, the knee on the other leg bent slightly as she lifted it, one hand on her dipped hip and the other placed over her the opposite shoulder. And her smile just drew me in.
The car journey was quick, the campsite was barely a mile from the village the castle was a part of, and the road gave a great view of the coast as the sun shone down upon it to our left. Of course if I did look left I was more likely to be distracted by the lovely Natasha more than anything nature could throw at me. But then, that had always been the case.
The campsite itself had little imagination put to it, someone had planed to get as many vans as they could in a field, and that was it. Purely regimented row, after regimented row of static vans, all looking out towards the sea, but more often than not, looking at the backside of the van in front of it. Still at the very least, driving to the van was quick and direct, grid systems have that advantage.
As I pulled up I realised there was no car parked here. When I knew her, Natasha had told me that she had a license but no car of her own, she relied on public transport. That seemed to be the case her too, and this far out, buses would be far less frequent and she’d need to rely on multiple busses to get anywhere. Something I’d always found a nightmare. If this was me in this position, no car, relying on public transport, that would leave me feeling trapped. I looked over to my old workmate as we pulled into the empty bay next to her van, she smiled as if to say, this is it, and gave me a quick kiss on the lips.
My breath left my body. I had waited years to get a kiss from this girl, dreamed about it, wanted it, desired it, needed it. and it finally happened.
In my car.
Outside her home.
It had nearly happened before, years back one night after work, by chance we were walking home together to the bus depot. She needed to get a bus home and I had parked my car there, as I always did back then. Even better she had a party to go to after work and had to do some last minute preparations, she needed a dress and a friend was going meet her to lend her one. Complicated women stuff I told myself back then. Make sure the outfit matches the right dress, the right shoes or boots, the right stockings. None of which were really things Natasha was known for wearing, she was always a bit of a tomboy in her dress sense, trainers, jeans and tight tshirts, often which would show of her bust.
I offered a lift, and she accepted, and we chatted and flirted all the way to the depot, and in the car trip to hers. And we were making all sort of rude jokes as we went, big smiles on each of our faces, and the sparkle in her eyes was a reward of all its own.
By the time we got to hers (a good twenty minutes or so earlier than the bus could have managed) she had me drive around the back of her house to an alleyway, claiming it would be easier for me to get out of the estate that way, but the breathy way she said it, told me she wanted more.
But as we pulled up in the alley, and I pulled the handbrake on, we realised we weren’t alone. Just a few feet away from the car, caught in the beams of my headlights, was a little old lady, firmly clasping the hands of a child on either side of her, as if waiting to make sure it was safe to cross the road. The single lane of the alley, with the rear entrances and garage doors of several terrace houses.
Natasha and I had both seen her, and kept talking to each other, hoping she would go away. But she didn’t, she stayed still, almost like a statue, while the children squirmed. There was no way she could see us, with the headlights on and the car not moving, she wouldn’t be able to make us out. But she stayed there all the same, staring, as if trying to see us past the blinding light.
I could see the look on Natasha’s face, she wanted something to happen, but seemed to be a little doubtful, and I myself was having doubts we’d be able to get away from the all seeing gaze of a woman I could only assume was a neighbour of hers.
I wanted Nat, she wanted me, the sparks were flying off us both, but I also knew she had her boyfriend, possibly in the very house we were parked behind. If we did anything could this clairvoyant like old lady get the word back to him?
Nat and I looked sadly at each other, our little unspoken plan ruined. She smiled, thanked me for the ride and stepped out of the car and walked around the back of it towards the main street and her front door, trying to retain what little anonymity she might still have from the little old lady who held her place there. Once I was sure she was gone from the old womans gaze I drove on – and the old woman stepped in front of me, complete with each child, staring at me all the time.
I hit the brakes, I’d barely gone all of a couple of yards but still, silently, and inwardly I cursed this old woman and her timing.
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