Writing has been my passion for some years now, along with teaching and drama, but I’ve only recently put my toe into the water when it comes to meeting other writers. It’s been a revelation. To be able to swap notes, commiserate when agents don’t faint with delight at our work, to hear other viewpoints, and just to snigger at how ridiculous we often are – bliss. Whether I’m writing romance, children’s fantasy or picture books, this is my idea of the way life should be. Although being published would also be good.
Continuing Catherine and Laura’s theme, my story is about Valentine’s Day, 2007:
The man stood in the doorway of the restaurant. Breakfast time in San Francisco – crisp winter sunshine, trays of fresh fruit, snowy linen cloths and a woman by his side, for a change. He had left England under a thick blanket of snow, the February skies mournful and grey. Here, the cold was sparkling, clean and energising and the Golden Gate Bridge soared high over the sea. Following him to a table by the wide window overlooking the bay, the woman said ‘I’m sorry; I’m not very hungry, are you?’
He smiled, picking up one of the enormous menus.. ‘No, but that’s not a problem – we’ll just order the smallest thing we can find. What about French toast and fruit; is that ok? Do you like French toast?’ Signalling to the waiter, he realised with a stab of alarm that he knew next to nothing about her.
‘I like everything! It’s just that I still get a weird lump in my throat sometimes when I try to eat, even after all these months. And this week, coming over here to a strange place, especially to go to Matt’s wedding – well, it’s hard, isn’t it?’
The man nodded. He’d never talked about his grief to anyone before, ‘Sometimes I just feel guilty for still being alive, to be able to eat great food and drink chilled wine and see the sunset, and go out walking.’
‘And go to new places, and meet people, and make new friends…’ she agreed. Her eyes were suddenly full of tears and the man blinked in sympathy. There was a silence, and he tentatively reached for her hand. ‘I know, it’s a bugger, isn’t it?’
The waiter brought their order and they laughed, breaking the tension. The plates were so loaded that the toast spilled over the edges, and the enormous slices of watermelon dwarfed the heaps of strawberries and kiwi. He looked at her and felt a sharp pang when he saw green eyes instead of blue. He didn’t know that she was seeing blue eyes when she had half expected green.
‘So much for a light breakfast,’ he said.
Later, as they wandered along the boardwalk, a street trader stopped them in their tracks, holding out a handful of black t-shirts hopefully. The man shook his head, ‘Sorry, we don’t need anything today.’
‘Hey, you got no choice, dude – you gotta pay the forfeit.’
‘That’s what I said, didn’t I? You’re out here, in the most beautiful bay in the world, on the most romantic day of the year, and you ain’t holdin’ the lady’s hand. That’ll be ten dollars, and the t-shirt’s free.’
The man and the woman exchanged sheepish glances, both blushing. ‘But…I don’t really know her,’ he stuttered.
‘Yeah, right – who you tryin’ to kid? Gimme the ten dollars, and you got a deal.’
Grinning, the man dug out a note from his wallet, and handed the t-shirt to the woman. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day,’ he said.
They were married in December, 2008. Neither of them ever wore the t-shirt.