|Alan and Chloe haven't walked very far since they met several days before, near Lizard Point.|
Alan's next picture assignment: Hoodoo Beach.
The Lizard Inn was still there and easy to find, even in the dusky end of the day. The front of the building was entirely made up of old windows, arranged in a mosaic of different shapes and sizes, all under a long sign saying "The Lizard Inn and Bath". The proprietor, a tall white-haired woman with a regal bearing, got up from her supper when they rang the bell. Alan apologized for the interruption but she just smiled and then related the options: camp sites, a communal bunk room or a private room with four bunks, all including use of the shower room and a tiny Japanese-style furo (the Bath, Alan assumed). A full kitchen was also available. They decided on the private room this time, instead of the bunk-room. At the Lizard Sundries Shop they bought some milk, fruit, and some red wine, and then made up bowls of cereal with chopped dates for a late supper. There were apparently no other guests tonight. They carried their bowls and wine out to a lovely garden-patio in back of the Inn and had their supper. The wine was good - just right to follow a bowl of cereal!
While working on his second glass, Alan said, "You know, when I saw you guys yesterday morning, I immediately assumed he was a long-lost boyfriend and that was that...between you and I. It really shook me. I mean, I guess I've been getting used to being with you these last few days." Alan took a breath. "So, ah, what I'm asking is, do you have someone? I mean, since Dennis?"
Chloe paused and then looked at him. "Well, I have friends who are guys in Putney and a couple of other places, but I don't consider any of them 'boyfriends'. Don't worry, I have no plans to marry any of them!"
She went on, "And I like being with you too. I feel that you are a wee bit aloof, though, and maybe that's because you're not confident that we can be friends...? I'm sort of guessing here."
"Um," he muttered, feeling a familiar twinge of frustration: I wonder if I'll ever be confident enough to mean something to someone...
"You're probably right about the aloofness thing. I think I use it to cover the confidence thing. I hide a lot, and that's probably why I'm not happily with anyone. My ex-wife Barbara told me once that I was 'flat', meaning I had no personality, or something. I lost my confidence in teaching, and I think my willingness to teach went with it. And just before I was offered this assignment, I wasn't doing anything but drawing dreams. My friend Michelle basically told me to take this assignment just to get out of my head!"
Chloe regarded him while taking another sip of wine. "You probably did the right thing by coming here, by taking the assignment. I think there is more inside you than you give yourself credit for, and I'm really glad we're sitting here now - together. People tend to be warm and friendly here, but you have to be open to who they really are. I liked it when you 'befriended' me on the path back there, and I appreciate it that you're letting me be as I need to be."
Alan smiled, "Well, I like who you are. More wine?"
And they finished off the bottle.
When Alan awoke the next morning he looked over at Chloe still asleep in the next bunk. She seems so at-peace with herself, and so much like an old soul. Alan had read a little about the theory of soul migration, and how souls become wiser as they get older, over the course of many lifetimes. He figures he is somewhere in the younger-soul category.
With that thought, and before more physically-driven thoughts could enter his head, he walked out into the early morning. He heard a rooster nearby, and followed the sound with fresh eggs on his mind. By luck, the owner of the rooster was out by a chicken coop, and sold Alan four eggs she had just gathered. "Mind you," she said, "these are fertile eggs, so there might be a surprise inside!"
Alan made some Irish-cut oatmeal with milk and then woke up Chloe to ask what kind of eggs she wanted. She twitched, stretched languorously and finally squinted at him, "What?"
I bought four fresh eggs across the street. How would you like yours?
"Poached, on toast." she grinned.
"Ooh, I'll see what I can do. If I can't make toast, how about poached with porridge?"
"Okay, but I want my eggs runny in the middle!"
By the time she walked into the kitchen, Alan had everything served up including some coffee. They sat at a long table. "You're gonna spoil me if you keep this up," she said.
They cleaned up, then packed up, and got an early start for the next leg of their walk. The town of Lizard was only about four blocks wide, and was coming awake as they walked on to Alan's next assignment, Hoodoo Beach.