There were two phone messages for Harriet. Both left for her while she was in the shower.
Always the way. How do people know? She wondered as she got dressed again in her bedroom.
Adam and Amanda were not wealthy, but Adams IT consultancy work, and Amanda’s management job provided enough to afford a reasonably sized semi-detached house with a couple of guest bedrooms. The room Harriet was in, and had used before, had its own small en-suite and so it was easy for her to maintain a level of independence from the rest of the house and that made her feel better about her stay being longer then previously. She was beginning to feel more like a lodger then a friend staying a few nights. Maybe she should speak to Adam and Amanda about paying her way and lodging with them until she was settled, sorted, and able to find a place of her own to rent.
Harriet called her voicemail service:
Beep! First new message:
“Hello Ms Board, It’s about the workshop. I thought perhaps you might like to meet me at at the workshop, at your convenience, to discuss the terms of the contract. Please do feel free to bring someone to check that it is all above board and satisfactory for you if you wish, and do take away a copy of the contract to consult with a solicitor before signing. Thank you, I look forward to your call.”
End of first new message.
Beep! Second new message:
“Harriet, its Sarah. I just wanted to let you know that Mitch, who gave you the bike, has passed away. His wife asked if you would like to attend the funeral. She wanted everyone who knew Mitch, or benefited from his final days to be there to thank them all. I know you didn’t get to meet him, but it’s up to you if you would like. I’ll catch up soon.”
End of second new message. You have no more new messages. To listen to the messages again press one, to save the messages….
Harriet dropped down onto the edge of the bed and just sat. Her phone fell from her hand and hit the floor with a thump. Slowly the tears fell from her eyes, her shoulders shook, the dam burst and she cried, deep sobbing cries. Cries for all the injustices and hurt in the world, for her failed relationship, for the hurt she was put though. For her friends who rescued her, for this man, this stranger, this generous person she never knew, for his grieving widow who wanted to invite a stranger to his funeral.
No one came in to see her, Adam and Amanda didn’t know. Harriet just sat on the corner of her bed and cried all of the cries alone, until there was no more to come. The tears dried, the shaking subsided and she lay on the bed and slept.
“Harriet? Dinner’s ready.
Harriet? Are you ok?
Amanda knocked on Harriet’s Bedroom door, concerned at her silence, opened it and found Harriet red faced and sleeping on top of the bedding with the edge of the duvet balled up in her hands.
“Harriet, dear, are you alright?”
Amanda was justifiably concerned. She shook Harriet gently by the shoulder and roused her.
“Sorry, I fell asleep.”
“Looks a little more then sleep. Are you ok, has something happened?”
“No. No, it’s just… Mitch, the chap who gave me his Brompton…”
“The one who is dying?”
“Yeah, he’s died. Sarah left a message on my phone. His wife… widow… I don’t even know her name, asked if I’d go to his funeral. I’m sorry, it just got to me more then I expected. Sorry…”
“Oh Harriet, I’m so sorry.” Amanda put her arm around Harriet as she sat up. “Do you want to go? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“I’ll go. I was asked to and I should, out of respect, but also because I want to. I think I need to. It might be closure on a few things.”
“OK, if you’re sure.
Anyway, dinners on the table, come down when you’re ready.”
“Thank you, I’ll be down in a bit. I’ll just freshen up first.”
Daisy arrived at the Environment Centre and found Steve already there setting the kettle boiling.
“Steve? What’s it like cycling everywhere?” Daisy asked.
“Same as driving everywhere but cheaper, nicer, quicker, healthier, better for the environment…”
“No I meant the actual cycling bit, how difficult is it?”
“Oh, well I suppose if you’re new to it it hurts your bum a bit until you get used to the saddle, or you get a proper saddle. Your legs ache a bit as they’re not used to the exercise but that passes as you cycle more. You find more short cuts and cycle paths, and nicer routes to where ever you are going to. And you realise that every other car driver is an idiot!
“Well, I’ve been thinking about buying a house and looking at the places where I might be able to afford one would mean it would be a bit too far to walk here and parking would be difficult if I were to add a car to the cost of everything.”
“How far out are you thinking of going?”
“Oh that depends. If it was Higher Theraton then that would be about ten or fifteen miles and through the town centre to get here, more if I went round the ring road. If it was Lower Theraton then maybe five or six miles I suppose.”
“Higher Theraton?” Steve whistled “Phil must be paying you more then the rest of us!”
“Noooo! I was looking at some of the smaller scrappier places near that end of town They’re at the very top of what could afford anyway so unlikely unless I was desperate.”
“Well, everything in Higher Theraton is four by four country! And I wouldn’t recommend cycling around the ring road, that’s sixty miles per hour! There are a lot of good places in Lower Theraton. I reckon it would be sensible to check everything this end before looking much further. Thing is, it isn’t just the distance, it is the routes you have to cycle to get here. Lower Theraton has loads of cycle routes so you could live further away and do most of the trip away from traffic. Get too near the business park and you’ll find it all main road cycling in the rush hour and even three or four miles would be a pain in the arse, even with a decent saddle!”
“So not that simple to work out then. I was hoping I could just work out how far I could realistically cycle to work and then draw a circle on the map.”
“I think, given the house is the biggest investment then that should be the priority. Find somewhere you like and work out the other bits afterwards. You might not always be car-less, and you might not always want to work here.”
“Yes, that’s true, and good sense, I think I was just looking for ways to make the choosing easier. So, anyway, what’s today got lined up for us?”
Steve went through the round and reminded Daisy of the awkward addresses, the two commercial collection sites, and suggested that if it was all done fairly promptly this morning then there was some stuff to take to the council tip before lunch.
During the round, Steve pointed out some of the areas of Lower Theraton, as they drove through to the town centre, that were pretty much no go areas for cyclists. Easy to spot by the ghost bikes chained to railings at the junctions.