Three weeks in spring

Bonfire with Bats – Fiona Phillips April 2020

You remember when we woke up that Saturday morning and I said we could go for breakfast, and you thought it was a good idea?

And we walked down the road, past standing traffic, rejoicing in our freedom, to choose bacon or blackpudding, fried bread or toast, while the news headlines scrolled past on the wall TV screen and local radio blared, too-cheerful, for so early in the day.

You remember when we went to town; collecting a birthday gift, getting my boots fixed and then how we decided we’d get lunch, talking about what we would do One Day?

How we browsed in the bookshops, checking out the local art gallery and grabbing a cocktail, before heading home.

You remember when we’d drive to the coast to walk, comb the beach, shards of sea-glass in green and white nestled between bone-white oyster shells; ending the afternoon with tea and cake in a vintage cafe, mismatched china and the Picture Post?

How we “popped in” to Tesco to grab a few bits for Sunday lunch, driving back across the bridge with the sun setting, a burning rose of fire sinking into grey.

Do you remember when we heard the news?

How we spent the week with routines up-ended, dizzy with the speed of change, the jolt of brakes slammed to the floor, with our inner momentum rushing us forwards through the days, leaving us aching and worn by nightfall.

Do you remember watching the numbers climb, and how we queued, carefully spaced, snaking towards the weekly shop in latex gloves?

Do you remember the freedom of a daily walk, crossing the road to avoid neighbours with a cheery wave; conversations held from opposite kerbs?

How the road stretched empty in both directions, a soft, sleeping snake.

Do you remember when we sat, three generations, everyday, at lunch, and afterwards took mugs of tea up to the end of the garden to bask with the cats in the midday sun and listen for the chaffinch patrolling his domain?

Do you remember that Friday night when we stood under the gibbous moon, Venus showing off in the west, the bonfire high, turning everything to ash?

Sparks flying, we sipped cider and the swift, black shadows of the bats swirled above us.

Do you remember putting your hand on my back, and how we knew we had it all?

That life was rich and beautiful, and we had never known how much until then.

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