Today


It was raining at the bus stop as Eric stood waiting. He held the large neon orange umbrella over his head and listened to the pattering noise. Eagerly, he checked the timetable bolted to the bus stop pole again. The numbers blurred under a cover of raindrops. With the sleeve of his leather jacket he smeared the water away. The bus should have arrived by now, if the printed digital numbers and his wristwatch were corrected.

Eric stared up the darkening countryside road. It had been awhile since he’d last seen a car or another person go by. He tried not to worry over that thought and instead began reflecting on his day. It had been a big one as life events go. He recalled waking up in the small B and B bedroom and looking out at the cracked window at a pretty new day.

Morning light had brightened up hills and the village’s rooftops, which had been shadows when he had arrived late in the night. A car drove lazily passed followed by two older children in school uniform. Eric had gone down to breakfast in last night’s traveling clothes and had ordered fried eggs on toast. The hostess had tried to offer him more food, but his stomach was already starting to somersault.

Then after doing everything that had need to be done, he set off through the village and into the outskirts. He remembered the way from the internet map and though he had a print out in his small briefcase he didn’t need it. As he walked, he thought the village was oddly quiet, but many of the houses were currently uninhabited. The internet had said it was a summer retreat and most of the houses were holiday rents or peoples’ second homes. Eric thought that was a bit of a shame, but he knew how hard life must be around here now.

At the end of a single road, he had seen the outline of a farmhouse and out buildings. Picking up his pace, he had almost run up to the gate. He noticed the sign, which welcomed him to Green Farm Hotel. He recalled opening and stepping through the gate, going to the door and being greeted by a woman. After that though, everything seemed to blur together. He had been given coffee, but he’d hardly drunk it. There had been more handshakes and introductions to people, the interview itself, of which Eric could just about remember some of the questions. Then it was over and he’d been shown out.

That morning, he had thought it had all gone well and they would offer him a job. In high spirits he had toured the village, had lunch, visited all the shops and go for a hike into the hills. He had then returned to the B and B, packed, sorted his bill and left to try and return home. Eric came back to the present and realised that he should have known by now about the job.

He checked his mobile phone, but there was limited signal. He had had no missed calls or messages though. Returning his phone to the pocket of his jeans, he looked out for the bus once more. He still couldn’t see anything going from either direction. Pulling a face, he ducked into the stone shelter, dipping his umbrella down.  He had left his suitcase and briefcase tugged in the corner to stop them getting any wetter.

Eric collapsed the umbrella, shook off some of the water and rested it at his side. There had to be a bus at some point, he thought, the timetable said every half an hour then every forty minutes up until ten pm. It had only just gone four. He lent his shoulder against damp, weed covered bricks and watched the rain falling. There was a dim streetlamp next to the shelter and then a darkened house.

The road curved sweepingly upwards then ploughed straight through the village with smaller roads like the roots of a plant leading off from it. There was a handful or two of lights coming from that direction. Eric wondered if he was at the wrong bus stop. He had seen maybe three in the village and then one close to the Green Farm Hotel.

He patted his pockets and pulled out a piece of crumbled paper. Viewing it in the dim light, he read the instructions and decided that he was at the right bus stop and the one he had had gotten off at yesterday was just a little bit further up. Slipping the paper back again, he heard the grumbling of an engine.

Gathering his things, he opened the umbrella and stepped out again.

Bright headlights like the eyes of large monster lit up the road and Eric flagged down the bus. There was a slight squeal of the brakes and the bus over shot the stop and become still a short distance away. Eric jogged over, feeling his briefcase hitting his leg and water splashing into his shoes. The driver let him on and after juggling everything, Eric showed the driver his ticket and dropped into the first seat.

The door hissed shut and Eric collected himself. The bus pulled away, leaving the semi-deserted village behind as well as Eric’s chance at a new life.

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