Inspired by a Leeds Savage Club Writers' Group Task, for which the prompt simply read: 'Writers' Group'.
She pushed her way between the hedge and the gatepost, squeezing by to avoid the tedious effort of the heavy gate. Tonight, air was all she needed.
The fields yawned out before her, with their long shadows and their evening sun, and she heard the faint hum of traffic, on the roads beyond the trees. The world was still out there, but somehow, this was a place where she could barely notice.
It had been warm today. The office had been stuffy and the phones had been hot, and she was tired of being polite. The thoughts had been stirring in her head all day...but she couldn't seem to find a moment to organise them. She knew she had something that needed to be said...to be shared...but she was running out of time. With a conscious effort, she suppressed the conditioned urge to wonder what time it was now...not because she thought she had any more of it, but because it seemed crass to think it mattered here.
The hares in the grass 20 yards away, began to scatter with her stirring footsteps, and she decided to sit, unwilling to disturb them further. She closed her eyes for what felt like a lifetime, and breathed, filling her lungs with air. The scent of the outdoors was like nectar, and it flooded her core, seeping into every , crackling fibre until she felt like a thirsty tulip drinking morning dew. With the sun setting, low on her back, and the soft voice of a lonely cricket chirping somewhere beside her, slowly...finally...she felt her thoughts begin to tumble into place. She sighed, and pulled a battered notebook from the back pocket of her jeans. Hunching over to rest it on her knee, she put her pen to the page, and began to write.
The pen was hasty, confident and sure, and it moved without a pause or a scribble... It was just as she'd thought. This was something that needed to be said, and it almost wrote itself.
She was so engrossed, scratching frantically at the paper, that she barely noticed when he sat down beside her. He had to touch her unoccupied hand, lightly, to alert her to his presence, and she turned her head, dipping it gently against his as a greeting. It was the very briefest of tender gestures, before she resumed her task. Her thoughts had taken so long to be coherent that she was now unwilling to disturb them, and despite his being there, she steadfastly completed her mission.
It didn't surprise her that he waited in silence, shifting only slightly as he stroked his thumb over the empty space on her wedding finger. He knew her well enough by now not to speak when he found her here.
"When you were late," he said, eventually, as she laid her notebook in the grass, "I knew I'd find you here."
She turned to him then, eyeing the finger he was stroking with painful regret, before she met his eyes.
"I'm sorry..." she frowned. "I know I should have called. It's just...with what happened this morning, I suppose I've felt lost all day. I couldn't get things straight in my head...the words wouldn't come. I just...I really needed some air." He nodded, acceptingly...always accepting...his eyebrows knitting a little, as he tried to understand her world.
"And do you have them straight now?"
She smiled sadly.
"Yes, I think I do."
"Can I see?" She turned to the notebook and smoothly tore out the page...there were other things in there that she wasn't ready to show him yet. Folding the paper twice so it fit in her palm, she pressed it gently into his. She didn't watch him unfold it, and got up to pace, nervously, as he read:
I miss you today,
that harnessed and poured on,
swept away the only beacon that has ever
truly retained the most treasured
of my life - remembered for me
our mornings, my dreams,
our nights - heated and love-drunk; tender circle
of fire it seems I only pay note to
when I feel that it
withdrawing and plunging back in,
for I have only regrets...
of where my apathy greeted and met my
and I lost you...
...I lost you through nothing
but inattention, and my own carelessness.
"So what do you think?" She finally asked, when he stood up and wandered over to join her. "It's the Writers' Group Open Mic tonight and I wanted to have something to read...but I think I've left it too late, haven't I? I've rushed it...it needs more work...?"
"No," he smiled, "you haven't...and it doesn't. I think it's perfect, beautiful...I think you're beautiful!" He pushed the paper back into her hand. "Go. Please." He told her. "Read it. They'll love you."
"Perhaps," she smiled, feeling suddenly and uncharacteristically shy, "but I think you're biased on that front. And besides...what will you do tonight? ...If I go?"
"Me?" he smirked and pulled her close to kiss her forehead. "I'm going to take the U-bend off, darling... You're not the only one who misses your ring, you know!"