The thing I needed to do the most was to get out in the fresh air and find a nice spot to set my easel up and paint.
There were many canals and rivers in and around this town, so I packed all my things up and made my way to the nearest canal bank.
I walked to a nearby bridge and when I looked over I could see the water from both sides and a footpath that ran alongside it. There was a small turning that I took over the road and this led me along the grassy bank. Ducks and swans were swimming along and every now and then someone would walk past and say good morning.
Before the next bridge, there was an old building across the way. It looked like a factory or mill of some kind. People were walking up and down in the rooms above and a few men and women were outside smoking and chatting with each other. This part of the walkway would be fine to set up as the bank was very big and I could easily paint here.
After getting all of my things set-up, I began painting. It was very quiet and you could hear the birds singing in the trees in a small orchard behind me.
Just as I got settled this young woman appeared out of nowhere. She had a bonnet on and was using a parasol to keep the sun off her. Although it was late in the year the sun was very strong and to prevent you from being burned, you had to cover up. The sun was shining in my eyes and as she came closer, an image popped into my head, which in turn made my stomach flip. I became really nervous all of a sudden and my heart was racing. The image was of the woman at the train station. A few more steps and we were face to face. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing it was indeed the woman from the train station. All these months, I had seen her on the other side of the platform to me, always wanting to talk to her but never being able to, because I was afraid and also the opportunity never arose.
What would I say to her, I couldn’t say I had seen her on Tuesday at the train station as she may become a bit scared of me and I certainly didn’t want that. Maybe talk about the weather that’s what most people do, but that would be rather boring and not a conversation that would be very engaging would it?
Think, Lawrence, Think, You’ve dreamt of this moment for so long. In fact, you have even seen this meeting in your head before and played it out in all the different types of ways you will meet and what you would say, so you should know this off by heart now. But I didn’t I could feel myself blurting out something stupid or even worse not being able to say anything. The human mind is amazing, I have just had in real life a twenty-minute conversation, but because I am thinking it, it has only taken a matter of seconds. These next few minutes could go in two ways, change my life for the future or be a total disaster.
It was all or nothing now. I plucked up the courage and said hello, to which she replied hello back. I even managed to get my name out and tell her I was called Lawrence. She smiled at me and told me it was a lovely name. I told her who I was named after in my family. She loved my accent and was looking at my painting. We carried on talking and it hadn’t occurred to me what her name was, I was too busy enjoying our conversation and allowing her to do most of the talking. I said a few things here and there, but really loved the way, she was full of life and would giggle and say funny things. Things I had never heard of before, not just because I was French, but the phrases she used. As she talked she said little things about her family and her friends that lived around here. In just half an hour, I knew so much about her life.
I told her about my wife back home and about little Christophe. She was very understanding and when I spoke to her she really was engaged in what I was telling her. I noticed that she moved her head to one side as I was talking a sign that I had her full attention. When I had finished talking she hugged me and told me to take care. I said I would and thanked her for being so nice to me.
Before she went I asked her who she was to which she replied
“I am Edith, I live just up the road near the church.” “I went to school near there as well.”
Could this be real? Was the woman at the train station and Henry’s friend Edith the same person? Could I Lawrence, who never had much luck when it came to women, have not only met the woman of my dreams, but also the woman of my prayers. Are they two different women, or have I struck Gold and they are the same person?
Go,on Lawrence, say it.
“I have friend Henry, who is a shoe and bootmaker, he has a friend called Edith, they went to school together. “
“My best friend is called Henry, Henry Mortimer, we went to school together.”
“That’s amazing Edith, my Henry is, in fact, your Henry.”
Oh, Lawrence, what a wonderful coincidence.” “I came for a walk along here today because I am leaving for France soon and this is where Henry and I would walk.” “It’s our favourite spot, you see the orchard behind you, these are the trees that Henry would pick apples for me. “ “We would sit right here and eat them.” “Here you are painting in the same spot.” “It’s fate, Lawrence.”
Fate, she used the word fate and this is something that I believed in. Not only did she say the word, but the way she described what happened, would be the same way I would have described it. There was something very unusual about Edith. I did notice sometimes that when we spoke we said the same thing at the same time, which has never happened to me before.
She spoke about her plans and hoped we would meet at the port. I hoped we would too. I really liked Edith and now, I had finally been able to put a face and body to accompany all the stories and words that had been spoken about her.
Edith left and as she walked away, I had a feeling of love in my heart. It was only a small one, but it was there all the same. A feeling that had gone from my life and one that I thought would never return. Today, it had. I wasn’t thinking too far ahead, after all, I may never see her again. If I did, it could be the start of something new for me and if I didn’t I would know that my heart and body was still capable of feeling love and perhaps giving it after everything that had happened in my life.