Expanding the characters:
Train – Marry Me
Standing at the bottom of Steep Hill, looking up. Souvenir shops and brightly decorated cafes line the route. People mill about, cameras at the ready. One of the cathedral towers is clearly visible at the crest of the incline – it makes a good photograph from my spot on the pavement.
Lincoln Cathedral. There’s a touch of the fairy tale in its magnificence. Always the first place we’d head when we arrived in the city. The image of a certain café close to the majestic church, stirs my heart.
It’s where we met.
A year later I proposed. We sat at our usual table and I knelt on one knee, asked you to marry me. Everyone in the café applauded and cheered.
Twenty years on. In my mind it happened yesterday.
Gazing upwards, still. Not sure I can make the climb. I came here on our anniversary to remember us. The young man is no more. He quit playing football a while ago. The older version runs on the spot in a gym three times a week. Does that count?
Do I have the stamina?
Steep Hill is steep, steep.
Glancing sideways, there’s a guy about my age. He’s looking from me to the journey upwards and then back at me again. Okay, is this a challenge? I nod and we start climbing. It’s not too bad to start with, my calves are keeping pace. My brain is back at the bottom, but hey, who needs it.
Halfway up and my lumbar region asks me what the hell am I doing.
I’m doing this for us. For love. For the guy keeping me company. For everyone in love, everywhere. For me.
My heart is pumping now. My muscles are squeaking. My hair is damp on my nape. I see the guy stop, bend forwards, hands on his knees. I stop too. Take a deep breath. I look across at him, make a face. Smile. We can do this.
I think I might die before I get to the top. No big deal. At least then we’ll be together again. You and me.
We set off again. Up that hill. My unexpected companion and I. Steadfast.
When I get to the top, I take a moment. My fellow climber is nowhere to be seen. He has his own memories to explore. I hope they’re as happy.
The café hasn’t changed. The old nineteen fifties jukebox is still there in the centre where we admired it and listened to all the songs we didn’t know, but grew to love.
I glance over at our spot to see it occupied by a young couple. I buy a coffee and settle at another table by the window to watch as people mooch and take photos of the cathedral. A buzz in the atmosphere makes me turn. The young man is on one knee, he’s holding out a tiny box. There’s a catch in my throat. Tears dampen my cheeks.
I miss you, Kate, so much.
Copyright (2018) M J Christie
First Published in Lit Up: The Land of Little Tales