Sophia’s hand gripped the latch of the front gate of her property. She could not believe she had agreed to do this. Being with Callum in private was something she had been avoiding since his return to London two years ago. They had met briefly on a cold afternoon in late February, a week after his arrival. He had been told by Meghan that she had married Tom and he was mad at her. The disappointment on his face had stamped her heart like a branding iron. He looked devastated. “How could you do such a thing, without telling me and giving me a chance to show you how I feel? Did I mean so little to you?” He had cried. And he hadn’t. He had meant so much. He had meant everything. But the wages she earned from writing for a handful of art publications didn’t even cover her bills. She was exhausted and sick of being broke. A couple of girls she had shared a feature with in one of the publications, were going down to Devon for the weekend and had invited her to join them. It was a friend of theirs thirtieth birthday party and they were all staying in his family’s coastal mansion. The idea of spending the weekend in a rich boy’s house had seemed a lot more appealing than spending another weekend in her tiny flat, watching TV and feeling sorry for herself. At the time, she hadn’t had many rich friends. In fact, she hadn’t known anybody with a lot of cash, but this hadn’t bothered her. As soon as she had walked through the door of the ostentatious house, she had felt at home. Luxury suited her. She had imagined herself living in a place like that and never having to worry about money again. The birthday boy, Tom, a handsome plastic surgeon, had been seductively charming too, and the rest was history. She lifted the latch and pushed the gate open.
Templewood Avenue was a leisurely fifteen-minute stroll to the Pergola. Sophia placed the house keys inside her small satchel and walked along the empty street, listening to the stamp of her sandals on the pavement. She had chosen a floral summer dress in green and lavender tones. Callum preferred her in dresses. “God has endowed you with heavenly legs to delight the world, not to hide them,” he used to joke. Her heart hammered her chest with such intensity that she had to come to a halt a couple of times and breathe deeply. She didn’t know how the afternoon was about to unfold and the feeling of uncertainty frightened her. She was scared of pushing him away again and even more scared of what his presence alone would do to her. She had grown so weary of her marriage that she didn’t feel capable of rejecting his attentions. Her ponytail brushed her neck and she thought of his butterfly kisses over her skin. She crossed over the main road and entered the Heath, turning right towards the Hill Garden and Pergola. She loved that place. It was the first place in London she had posed for Callum after moving to the capital. It was full of their memories, their happy memories. And she knew this was the very same reason why Callum had chosen it. She watched a couple of adolescents kiss on a nearby bench and felt jealous. Their freedom and ease reminded her of the once-upon-a-time, young Sophia and Callum, passionate about life and the countless opportunities the future held, and so in love with each other.
Sophia reached the Hill Garden and glanced at her watch. It was a minute to four. Luckily, the place was almost deserted, the only other presence being that of an elderly couple, who sauntered casually along the other side of the lawn. She slowed down her pace, watching her reflection on the pond’s murky waters, and wondered what her life would have been like if she had waited for him. She should have trusted him and his talent. But trust, trust was not something she had been shown. She didn’t know how to trust. Sophia climbed the small flight of steps leading to the Pergola and followed its long terrace. Exotic summer flowers entwined with vivid ivy leaves coloured the greying stones, infusing them with a sentiment of nostalgia for its faded splendour. She run her fingers over the gnarled branches of an old vine, which stubbornly clung to one of the columns, in the same way she clung to the wreckage of her broken marriage.
He was standing by the Pergola’s gate, dressed casually in a navy t-shirt, camel chinos and white plimsolls. She paused two steps away from him, staring at his beautiful face, which had grown slender and more chiselled.
At the sight of Sophia, his mouth curved into a smile. “I wasn’t sure you’d come,” he confessed.
“I was not going to let you down, Callum,” she said, returning his smile.
“It wouldn’t be the first time.”
She gave him a sniff of disapproval. “When ever would you stop reminding me?” She muttered.
“Come here,” he extended his hand and she took it reluctantly. “Let’s go for a wander.”
Kashaf Ghaffar on December 05, 2018:
Oooo wow i realy like