“Gangway!” I sweep past the woman and her racing bike.
Stopping my mad peddling, and braking hard, I say, “Watch out, it gets even steeper and there’s a serious corner after those trees. I nearly died there.” I’m going slowly enough to look at her and see she’s seriously attractive. “I’m thinking of taking a break. I’ve got some apple juice in my backpack.”
Her brakes squeal and she drops behind. I stop and see her squinting in the sunlight with her head tilted. “You said apple juice, didn’t you?”
“Funny, my ears heard apple juice but my brain heard cider.”
“Let’s sit on that log and pretend anyway.” I pull my bike from the road and over grass and nettles.
She does the same. “Where are you headed?”
“Shillingford,” I reply. “Know it?”
“No, sounds awful and I never want to go there.”
“You have to.”
“I don’t.” She sweeps moss from the fallen tree.
“You do. You are headed towards it and there are no turnings-off before the village.”
“Gosh, from the way you talk I’d never have suspected you were intelligent enough to work that out yourself.” She grins and pats the trunk beside her. “Come on; I’m thirsty. Where are you headed?”
“My parents’ house.”
“Really – you’re taking me to meet your parents?”
“What’s the rush? I don’t even know your name. Anyway, you don’t want to meet my parents.”
“What’s the problem? Are they mutants or something? Are they aliens?”
“Actually, that would explain a lot about them.” I pull my backpack open and pass her the carton.
She takes it. “Do they have cider?”
“If they don’t there’s always the village shop. What’s your name?” I ask.
“No chance. We could be here for weeks, mystery-woman.” I study her face.
“What?” she asks.
“Your quite attractive.”
“Well, I’d give you one. Do you believe in love at first sight?”
“Only if first sight is a good look into the victim’s bank balance.”
As she hands the apple juice to me, I ask, “What about me?”
“Maybe in the dark … after a thorough bath.”
“Fine by me.”
“With a wire brush.”
“And neat chlorine.”
“Now you’re getting kinky. There’s a millpond at the bottom of the hill; we could have a bath together.”
“You just want me out of my clothes. What’s the rush?”
“No rush. It’ll take at least a minute to get there.”
She frowns. “One minute, maybe two? You may have a point.”
“Beside I’ve seen you naked hundreds of times.”
“What? No, you have not!”
“I recognise you now. You’re Tania Symes, Tansy for short, and live in Jubilee Cottage this side of the bridge. You went to a private school. I used to watch you from my bedroom window – especially when you hadn’t pulled your curtains properly and were getting ready for bed.”
She grins. “Which means you’re Brian Todd from the flat above the post office. What you don’t know is that I had really powerful binoculars and you never pulled your curtains.”
“What you don’t know is that I knew you were spying on me.”
“You mean you did all that flaunting on purpose? You complete tart!”
“Of course I did but you were just as bad.”
“Worse.” She stands, brushing moss from her legs. “Race you to the millpond. Last one there buys the cider.”
©Gary Bonn, 2020