Stories

Midnight In Wiltshire

The rain is hammering on the dark windscreen and it’s getting chilly now. Pull my coat around my shoulders. Reaching out my hand to turn on the radio. The speaker crackles and a faint French voice wanders through the ether. Turning the silver button on the other side the Frenchman wanders off, unperturbed. An English voice is louder, announcing football scores. The voice is soothing yet distinct. He fades as I move the yellow pointer further to the right. Pop songs enter from the darkness outside. The – what’s their name? Short hair and red jackets and guitars. The Thistles? I’m sure that’s their name. I switch it off.

My feet are cold, thin stockings are not what you wear for cold weather even if they are silk. It was a lovely evening until it started raining. Then the car splutters. I hate it when they do that. It did it again ten minutes later and the lights dimmed too. Tucking my feet in under the seat, hoping that it’ll be okay and we’ll get home. Wondering what Henry’s thinking, he knows what goes on when he turns the steering wheel, what all the lights mean.

So here I am, and I’m still alive even if the car’s not. We came to rest and the bars of a farmer’s gate bright against the black. It’s so quiet when the engine isn’t running. 

Henry stirs, opens the driver’s door, pokes his head back inside.

“I’m off back to that last village, whatever it was called. It’s only a mile or so. There’s got to be a garage or a telephone or something”

“Okay, Darling” I say reluctantly. Henry’s not good in the dark but Colonel Thirlmere would keep talking and talking. Henry takes his coat from the back and slams the door. 

Looking at my watch, it’s gone midnight. It’s colder and Henry’s been gone an hour. Pull my fox fur tighter around my neck, the hairs silky against the back of my neck.

I can hear the grinding of a heavy lorry somewhere. The hedge across the lane brightens waveringly in the headlights. Towering above us now, its wheels the size of our car. The door opens, Henry looks in the rain spattering everywhere. I draw my coat around me.

“I say, Soph” he says “It’s quite warm in that cab of his, you know”

“Henry! It’s a commercial vehicle”. What is he thinking? It would be like travelling with the baggage or third class or that sort of thing. 

An hour later the hotel owner opened the bar for Henry and raked up the fire which is warming my cold legs. A sipped brandy radiating warmth from inside. 

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