After the class, I liked to walk back home. It was a nice walk downhill through the fields following the public footpath and the park if you were not afraid of the darkness. It took a bit less than an hour, depending on how quickly I walked. I liked to listen to what the trees whispered. Especially now in the autumn, when they were changing colours, their whispers were full of the summer memories. It made up a nice contrast to the matter-of-fact accounting class. The contrast made me happy and I knew I chose well.
It was my third Autumn in England and I was still amazed how different it felt from Czech Autumn. Sometimes it felt the trees didn’t have even the time to shed the leaves. British winters were wet and bright and so different to what I was used to. The change was refreshing.
Except for today, there were no whispers. No memories, no gossip. I was just at the beginning of the footpath thinking that it would maybe change further away from the road. I was not used to experiencing such quiet there. The trees were never quiet, they were far too young for that. Today, there was just an uneasy stillness. Something was off and I could feel it.
Suddenly, I heard Saira, my classmate, calling me: “Wait, Jane!”
Saira was running towards me breathless. It was quite an achievement in the high heel shoes she insisted on wearing to compensate her height. Somehow she managed to change the mood of the whole street. The stillness was broken and a shadow behind the bushes quickly dissolved into the dark background. The time started to move again, although quietly. I decided the shadow was just some unpleasant memory, too weak to be true.
Saira sometimes walked with me, when she felt like it. It’s not safe for a girl to walk alone through the park alone, she always said, as if I were the one who needed protection and who were afraid. Naturally, she didn’t even know that I would go first through the footpath. That would probably make her go ballistic.
I liked Saira. We became fast friends when we met in the class three weeks ago. She was great if you wanted to discuss the makeup or the best colour of the lipstick. I think she was taking the class just because she decided she is far too glamorous to work at Tesco. I had to admit, she would look pretty one day in the office. No one could match so bright colours so tastefully.
“You are walking fast today,” said Saira breathing heavily. Or rather she spent too much time talking with others when I was leaving. But that was fine, it’s nice to have human company sometimes. The trees could be annoying with their chit chat.
“So, what’s up? You were late today.” She asked.
“Not much really. Lee-Ann was a bit late today and I couldn’t really leave the kids alone. She is not happy that I will not be with them much longer.”
“It’s still nice they let you do it - I guess accounting is not exactly the course au-pairs normally go for.”
“I guess, though it’s is Lee-Ann’s career,” I said. I knew though that Lee-Ann was happy for me to choose a career. She had told me recently that at least I didn’t look like a lost lamb anymore. I almost chuckled, I never felt like a lamb.
“Soooo, what’s up with Mike?” The ever curious Saira. I was feeling that our friendship probably got to the point that I should help her to find her own boyfriend to level it up a bit.
For a moment I thought I would just change the subject, just in case we weren’t alone, but then I said: “Well, it’s still in making. I will keep you updated.” And I winked at her.
She smiled and we kept talking the rest of the way about all the important things, like who would win X-Factor this time.
Whatever the shadow was, it didn’t appear again and the trees eased up a bit.The magic was broken, but I didn’t really care. Not that day. Mondays and Wednesday were my days to be normal, and normal people don’t talk to trees, don’t care if they talk back and don’t see shadows in the dark.