The Poacher’s Wood – Chapter 4

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series The Poacher's Wood

snow surfaceCHAPTER FOUR
Monday, December 22nd, three days before Christmas

The next afternoon she went by the pub to drop off a copy of Oliver Twist. She plunked the book down on the bar.
“Here it is.”
“Thanks. I read it years ago but I’m in an online reading group and that is the next book we are going to read,” Carol said.
“Have you seen Darrell?” Renee asked.
“Not since this morning. He said he was going up to the caves to look around and do some research,” Carol said.
“We had a date last night,” Renee said, winking at Carol.
“Really? He’s a nice man.”
“Yes he is,” Renee said. “He said he would call me but I assume he is busy working.”

It had been a fair day, clear and sunny and not too cold. There was still a lot of snow around. Renee on hearing Darrell was going to go up to the caves thought she might walk up there to see how he was doing.

She had tried to phone Darrell, but she got a voicemail. She left a message saying what her plans were. It wasn’t a long walk, maybe 25 minutes to walk there, but it took about 35 minutes with it being snowy. She set out and walked through the small village to a field where she crossed and then continued upward to a ridge where she knew she was about halfway there, the caves couldn’t be seen where she was at the moment but they were by a ridge of snow-covered trees and there was a well-worn trail nearby which was snowy but she could see where it was. Once she neared where the ridge of trees were, she started to keep an eye out for Darrell. She didn’t know if he would even still be up there, if he wasn’t she would just turn around and walk back again and count it as exercise. It was just starting to get dark. It didn’t bother her, it was safe in the area and she knew the path well. She tried to call him again, but she still only got his voicemail. She didn’t leave another message.

But it was then she thought she caught a glimpse of his grey coat. So when she was close enough, she started down to the caves. When she got to the caves though, she didn’t see Darrell anywhere. She called his name a couple of times. There was nothing. She went down to the cave entrance and looked in. They were dark and damp and obviously there was nobody there. She walked out to a slope nearby to get a good view and she looked out over the road and the nearby fields but she saw nobody walking. She had a bit of a panicky feeling in her chest, almost like a weight stopping her from being able to breathe. She took a deep breath and tried to relax. This is silly, she thought, maybe she didn’t even see him, or if he was there, perhaps he was just leaving. He could have left his phone in the car if he had parked nearby. She decided to start back. It was just then that rain started to spit. As it was getting a little dark and she was trying to figure out where Darrell was, some dark clouds had moved in. It wasn’t long before it was raining quite a lot, and she hadn’t brought an umbrella. She cursed, trying to trudge her way back in the snow as fast as she could without tripping up. In a few minutes she was soaked and her feet were freezing.

Back at the caves, when she was leaving she probably should have called a cab and walked down to the road, but she didn’t think the rain would get so bad. She finally got to the point where the path was near the town centre. However, the path sloped down quite quickly to the road and the sudden rain had made it slippery and there was some ice underneath. She was so relieved at being not too far from home that she lost her concentration and when she stepped, lost her footing and her legs fell from under her and she ended up on her backside, sliding down to the road. She picked herself up but she was in a foul mood, soaking and now caked with mud. As she walked the remaining way back to her place she had to walk past a pub where some early drunks outside the door celebrating Christmas had shouted at her as she walked by, she couldn’t tell what they were saying because they slurred so much.

By the time she got home, the rain still fell hard but she was past caring. She got in, out of her muddy clothes, showered and made a mug of tea.

She turned on the tv and noticed Cinderella, the Disney movie was on. She still appreciated the animation, maybe more now she was an adult. She was always so surprised at the size of Cinderella’s feet, how tiny they were and how small the glass slippers were. They were the size of ornaments, like something her grandmother would have had on her shelf when she was alive. Then she thought there was no point in being surprised at the feet, because then she would have to question the little birds with head scarves helping her to make Cinderella’s bed as well, sewing and doing everything else, and then what was the point. She just had small feet and she should stop thinking about it. She looked outside and the rain had turned to snow again which she probably preferred.

She wasn’t going to the pub and she didn’t feel like phoning anybody again. She checked her messages but there weren’t any. That was strange she thought. She just felt silly and overanxious, as if it was much easier when there was nobody new at the pub, and no new relationships to fret over.

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