Chris had been really pleased when Jane telephoned and asked if she could stay with him for a week of the Easter vacation. She was doing her post graduate teaching qualification in Newcastle and they’d met six months earlier when he’d been doing his. Now he was in his probationary teaching year at Penrith’s Ullswater Boys’ School.
The early Spring sunshine through thin curtains woke Chris and he’d spent a couple of hours cleaning and tidying his rented cottage at Kitchenhill just outside Penrith. Later he met Jane’s train at Penrith station and she said she would like to see a lake. They’d driven down Ullswater, chatting easily, and carried on to Ambleside.
There they’d gone into a chintz and china tearoom owned by a striking woman of about fifty in a long dark skirt, bright green blouse, beringed fingers and dangly gold earrings. Chris noticed the earrings were sigil-like stars and crescent moons as she took their order. They also learned that her name was Mary and she’d previously owned the infamous ‘Jungle’ transport cafe on the A6 near Shap. She’d sold it three years earlier, just before the M6 had opened in 1970.
Mary had asked what they did and Jane told her. “You won’t ever teach” said Mary quietly to Jane. Jane’s brown eyes widened “Why do you say that?”
“I see things.” said Mary with a slight moue and an apologetic lift of her shoulders as she turned back to the kitchen.