How happy we are in the countryside.
No rush hours. No option of being late. Just minutes that would feel longer if we weren’t savouring each one so deeply. One car across a gravelled lane for every thousand cries from woolly neighbours. Occasionally we snort at the deepness of their bleet.
Our hut is smaller than our real home. But it opens out to a world wider than the limits of our vision. No lifts to carry us from concrete floors to concrete roads; just four steps between us and a rug of grass. It rains in the early hours. Loud and angry. More aggressive than our stomping London neighbours and the bursts of drilling on a weekend morning, yet, we don’t mind. We share a sleepy glance, a sleepy smile, and roll over into a cocoon of duvet and limbs, back into a warped world we’ll later forget.
My loose plait falls out in minutes. Happiest at makeup free. Except a smear of foundation because it’s the only SPF I packed. The soles of my feet are constantly dirty. But with real, honest earth, not the dust of a polluted city. A constant breeze feels cold on our sunburnt skin, as if it came all the way from the ocean.
I’ll pour tea from a wolf-whistling kettle, you’ll carry the fruit to our bench. We’ll sit on a stripy canvas – diagonally, on our fronts, sitting up facing the shade – fingers pinching cheese rolls and moreish breadsticks that we’ll throw for the ducks even as they fly away.
We come in peace, we’ll whisper at every living thing. Except the guards of the gated pond, who squawk ferociously and shimmy their white feathers causing me to run like the creatures I want to befriend.
Reading on the steps. Reading horizontally. Reading in the sun until our faces turn red. You are so adorable when you absorb words on a page, the way you clasp your book as if you’re reading both pages at the same time, a slight frown as the scribbles turn to suspense in your mind. I see you pushing glasses to the ridge of your nose, your hands lined with decades of turning pages, your brow deeper. Still reading, still adorable.
Shall we build another fire tonight? I’ll let you light it first this time… watch as the white chalk dissolves into dancing flames that latch onto your carefully placed logs. I wonder how many melting marshmallows we can tear with our teeth before sweetness turns to nausea.
It’ll be dark soon. Not that you’d know as I sit and type on the steps, the sun crisp on my forehead, my palms leaving damp stains as they rest on the letters. Let’s look at the stars, find more cotton wool saucepans and solar systems that don’t exist until we notice them. I’ll drink too much red wine, sing a soundtrack from another era, and you’ll smile, make me laugh, and we’ll dance like no one’s watching because no one’s here. Except you and I.