“Too deep for me,” Peter said.
“Me too,” said Barbara.
“Well,” Steve said, “you won’t want to be out too long with Emily, will you? But it’s been nice to see you again, Barbara – and to meet Emily. Cathy, it’s always a pleasure to see you of course, but I’ll see you on Tuesday, won’t I?”
“As we agreed last night,” she said, continuing on the path away from them, but turning to smile at Steve as she left.
Only yards after they left, Barbara started questioning her Mum.
“What was that all about?” she demanded.
“All what?” her Mum replied.
“You and Steve is what. I saw you blush when you met. And what was all that about you two meeting yesterday to talk about fate? He certainly got in the suggestion that your meeting today was fate rather than coincidence. And you blushed again. Then you made sure that you got the message in, that you had already agreed last night about meeting next Tuesday.”
She thought for a minute.
“Oh, yes. You had this discussion yesterday, but you also agreed a meeting last night. When, yesterday was the discussion, where was this, and how long did it go on?”
“We had a chat yesterday afternoon at Steve’s house as a follow up to a similar one last week at my house. Last night, we both went separately, from our own houses to the monthly social dance in the Church Hall. Does that answer your question?”
“Don’t get cute, Mum,” Barbara said, “How come that you two are suddenly so pally? I’ve never heard you mention him before.”
“Listen Barbara,” Cathy said, “Don’t read too much into this. Steve and I are just friends. We have been going to the same weekly dance for years.”
“Hmm,” said Barbara, “It still seems fishy to me, and I don’t know what Paul’s going to say when he finds out.”
“Finds out what?” Cathy demanded.
“Well,” Barbara insisted, “he’s going to find out sooner or later, isn’t he?”
“I repeat,” her Mum said, “finds out what?”
“That you two are seeing each other. And that’s something else. It’s only two weeks since we were talking about Steve. He’d told you about a job that might suit Paul, and I said that I’d thought Steve was dishy when I was at school. You were saying then that he was, what was it? ‘straight-laced’ – and old. Nothing about secret meetings with him.”
“Listen, Barbara, give it a rest will you? There is nothing going on. We’re just good friends.”
Almost simultaneously, Peter started quizzing his Dad.
“Okay, Dad,” he asked, “What’s going on?”
“How do you mean?”
“How do you mean?” Peter mimicked Steve, “You and the Librarian, Cathy?”
“What do you mean by ‘going on’?”
“Come on,” Peter insisted, “The way you two blushed when we all met just now. That was not normal if you’re trying to tell me that you’re just good friends. And I saw how she blushed when you tried to turn coincidence into fate. Was that some type of secret code? She got you back though after you mentioned next Tuesday – reminding you that you’d settled that last night.”
“Peter, you’re reading far too much into this.”
“Come off it!” Peter argued, “You were like teenagers, partly wanting us to be in on the secret yet afraid to come out into the open.”
“As I said,” Steve countered, “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
“All I know Dad, is that you’re spinning Mum some sob story about a crisis of faith when, in reality, a pretty woman has got her hooks so far into you that you’ve even thrown your God out of the window.”
Steve was angry now, “You seem determined to draw the most damaging conclusion from a chance encounter.”
“There we go, fate again,” said Peter, “But now I’m fated to tell Mum all about this.”
“If you feel you must, then I won’t try to persuade you to do otherwise.”
They walked in silence back towards the car park. Peter said that he wanted to walk home.
He left and Steve looked after his son, sadly.
My two photos today again show the small lake similar to what the Mere might have looked like to Steve, Cathy and their children that day.
EXIF data were: Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor dslr camera with 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Shutter speed 1/60 secs @ f/10 and 31 mm. ISO was 100.