In the not so countryside just pass Greater London there is a small cul de sac which sits in the middle of almost nowhere – between fields of undecided green and yellow and woods that hadn’t quite matured to the status of forests. In the garden of one of the larger houses Steven sat quietly on the patio swing pretending to be incredibly engrossed in an email or text message and not listening to his wife and in-laws in their animated conversation; he couldn’t understand a word they were saying as they spoke in their own native language. The family were of course friendly and warm towards him and he knew they loved him very much – but they still seemed to forget that he was there once they started to get excited about a topic; this he didn’t mind so much since it always gave him the chance to sneak away to his favourite place in the country.
During one of these frequent family get togethers while the sun was beating down on them on a late spring day, Steven found the opportunity to take a walk on his own through the field beyond the garden and get away from the noise and the children running between the jabbering adults. At the end of the field were the woods filled with thick trees of ash and alder, bushes with berries of various colours and a dirt path that led eventually to another field at the other end of the woods. He walked along the path for a little while until the leaves above him eclipsed most of the sunlight and created beautiful dancing shadows that moved with the breeze; he turned right into the trees – leaving the path entirely. He walked briskly through the shadows, touching the trunks of each tree as he weaved passed them until he came to a small slightly circular clearing, the grass was still slightly moist from the previous down pour but it didn’t matter, Steven slumped himself down and looked up at the sky. The leaves separated here just enough so that he could see the blue sky about him, clouds swirling playfully as the day rolled on and distant birds chattered among themselves. He was completely happy and started to drift off into memories of the years that had passed.
Steven remembered the day he first saw his wife, how she’d greeted him indifferently on his first day at work alongside her. He remembered how he’d dismissed her as being cold and uninteresting, that her perfect bun had been too tight and that her suit was far too authoritative for her position at the company. He smiled at the memory. He remember how nights of overtime work had been more of a pain with her for the first few months, how she insisted on taking on the role of team leader and he’d insisted the same – they’d disagree about everything, criticise each others work method, argued over the smallest details. Steven remembered the office party where they’d first learnt to be more friendly (after a few glasses of wine and bottles of beer under awkwardly arranged ballons and streamers), how they eventually became friends, good friends and then how he realised he was slowly falling for her. Everyday she greeted him casually, he found himself beaming up at her, her jokes became funnier – his more awkward, how coffee to discuss the week’s meeting became drinks after work at the pub and then dinner to discuss interests and movies on the weekend. He remembered how he fell for her confidence, her laugh and the way she pursed her lips when she couldn’t quite figure out a problem. After so many years now, he still couldn’t believe how lucky he’d been to find himself working with her and how every morning he still found he loved her even more than the night before.
In the middle of his daydreaming he heard the breaking of several branches and rustling of leaves, Steven tilted his head towards the noise and saw his wife hopping into the clearing with a content smile on her face. She was so incredibly beautiful, it still took his breath away. He smiled up at her and remembered the day he asked her to marry him; right there in that clearing.