We watched him work his way across the forecourt sealing cracks in the tarmac. Cars passed, sometimes a truck. No one stopped.
We handed him the room keys, and he asked, ‘Where next?’ We talked about the box garden out front, wanted to know about the herbs and spices, vegetables he was growing, his reminders of home. Asked if we could leave the car in the forecourt, explained we wanted to walk to the Diner for breakfast. He looked at us, said, ‘No problem’. I wanted to say something about enjoying a morning stroll.
Walking along a deserted street, passing Sunday morning service in a disused store. Sullen faces stare back. Even with the window between us it was unsettling, so much animosity.
The Diner was quiet. We ordered, talked about night time trains pulling through the junction near the motel, the rhythmic rattling of carriages, how that sound carried memories of watching trains pass at the end of our street. He’s lifting me, supporting me standing on the low stone wall, encouraging me to wave at the passing carriages, ‘Look. There’s somebody waving back, and they’re smiling’.
Day long walks. Sometimes we’d catch a bus home, but that was rare, most of the time he’d expect me to walk. And so we’d talk and walk away the hours. He’d tell me not to be in too much of a hurry, to take my time, ‘Time to look and think, that’s what we need, don’t we’.