The autumn sunlight was dancing on the boughs of the trees with their multi-colored burden of leaves, some dead, some still clinging to their dwindling existence. A blackbird was declaring his prowess to the world in general and although the first hint of winter could be seen in the gathering flocks of birds wheeling in the sky, the autumn air was still gentle on his face. As he walked his route, there was lightness in his step born of this beautiful day and his thoughts which lingered playfully and kept him company on his round.
Sam was 28, an athletic type with a good body, if a little short, but with attractive features and eyes that seemed to melt most hearts. Six months ago he had married a girl who had completely bowled him over. They had met on a yacht cruise round the Greek islands as part of a singles holiday. It was the sort of thing he thought he would never need to do but the previous five years had been spent in conducting several rather unsuccessful relationships. Each one of them he had met in his local area, Chilford.
He had pondered long and hard as to why they had all failed so completely. It would begin very well and he had always been very attentive to his partner’s needs. In fact, each one had always indicated that they were satisfied with the state of affairs. No, it was he who had always brought the affair to an end, he knew that now.
There had always been something missing. That vital spark, that certain something was just not there. As a result, he would become less attentive and begin to withdraw into himself. He had never had problems with relationships in his younger days because, although they never lasted longer than a few months, they were never meant to. He had matured, however, in recent years and wanted to settle down but until now, his attempts had all come to nothing. Now it was different. She was not a local girl and had a sense of adventure which appealed to him greatly. Yes, the yoke was firmly around his neck and he didn’t resent it one bit.
His job as a postman was always a solitary one, but Sam didn’t mind that. In fact, for much of the time he relished it. There was no-one to watch him or criticize him and for much of his working shift, he could believe he was his own boss, free to discharge his burden how he saw fit. He could deliver the letters slowly and deliberately with an air of efficiency or he could be the hard-pressed worker with so much to do and so little time to do it in. In any case, like now, he could let his mind wander at will, free from domestic worries and yet not oppressed by his duties.
Just at that moment however, his mind turned to Mrs Jennings as he approached her letterbox. Christine Jennings, whose beautifully manicured portico was now only a few doors away, was good-looking and shapely and he would often see her at the edge of the net curtains looking along the street. Sometimes her gaze would fall on him and when it did, those dark green, strong eyes would start the butterflies in his stomach fluttering gently. It was always exciting, wondering whether or not she would notice him and those times when she did, that excitement took on a more earthy rhythm, taking his thoughts in quite a different direction and ruining his composure for the rest of his shift.
He recalled with pleasure that, not just on one occasion, the door had opened to accept the mail from his hands. On each occasion, those fine lightly tanned fingers would brush against his own and he felt those dark eyes watching him as carried on down the road. Over a period of several months, it had become something to look forward to, and was always an exciting distraction in his daily routine.
With each delivery, his anticipation was growing, causing that inevitable tightness in his chest and an increase in his heartbeat. There was just one door to go now before hers and yes, he saw the curtains move. As he walked down next door’s path, it was all he could manage not to turn round and look at her window. Today seemed worse than usual, with the dryness in his throat, his heart starting to pound quite rapidly and the anticipation growing with each second. As he lifted the latch on her gate, his impulse was to hurry to the door, but he knew he should be calm. The consequence of this inner battle was a pronounced stiffness in his step.
Read the rest of the story in Stories from the Lockdown