Chapter 7

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Nelson picked up his crumpled duffel bag and opened it, exposing a muddle of clothes. He rummaged amongst them and pulled out a velvet pouch.

He dropped it with a dull thud.

Startled, Fran asked, "What was that?"

"Just my bag."

She laughed nervously. "Are there rocks in it?" Anxiety lifted her voice in pitch and he winced against the screeching sound.

He held the pouch in his open hand, not sure what to do with it. Did he give it to her or just leave it on the table for her to find?

Fran's agitation was adding to his own, making him feel seriously anxious.

When she reached into the cupboard she accidentally knocked several cups over. They clattered against each other making Nelson suck in air.

"Don't worry, I do that all the time." She nervously waved her hand. “Marjory keeps the best ones out of my way, so if I break one of these...there's no harm done."

He desperately wanted to take over, even toyed with the idea of telling her he no longer wanted a cup of tea but something inside him told him that was not a good idea.

So he put the velvet pouch on the table and crossed his legs and arms unnaturally tightly. Fran's agitation had set every single nerve on edge.

He wondered if he could stand being around her if she was always like this.

The bristling crackle of a packet of biscuits filled the air and when she finally set them down on the table, he relaxed, grateful nothing had broken.

Finally, she sat down. “You’d better pour your own tea. I sometimes miss the cup and Marjory tells me off for spilling tea everywhere.”

She giggled. Silence. Nelson slapped his forehead with his open hand as he realised she would never find the pouch on her own.

“What’s wrong?”

Swallowing, he took her hand in his then ran his fingers lightly over the smooth skin. He turned her hand over, and placed the velvet pouch on her shaking palm.

He stuttered. “I don’t know if it’s the right thing but it reminded me of your eyes...” He choked. “Oh god, I’m really sorry.”  He took a deep breath. “…I’m making such a hash of this.”

Fran held his hand.

“Don’t apologise. It’s only natural that people feel awkward.”

He focused on Fran and was shocked to see her eyes were looking away into the distance. He uneasily ran a hand over the table.

In an effort to break the heavy silence, he pointed to the door.

“There was a woman out there…” He trailed off, realising his strained voice sounded just a little spooked.

“In a yellow jersey?”

His mood lightened. “Yes.” He nodded emphatically. “You know her?”

She grinned and, playfully tilting her head, said, “Aye, ye’ve been most blessed. Legend says Lonesome Annie wanders the streets searching for her los’ lover, a-vowing all who see her will find true love…”

Comments

Oh, wow, Suraya, just love the whole Lonesome Annie twist. And who will Nelson's true love be? The tension you created between Nelson and Fran was so real and Nelson's reactions to Annie's disabilities, awkward, unsure is how many people, I think, would react.... I also have to wonder what's in the pouch. Fantastic :)
Thanks Rosemary. I look forward to finding out what's in the pouch. I really do hope Fran and Nelson sort things out...but who knows....(: Maybe I'm just a sucker for a fairy tale ending.