Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Lockdown Book Club - Chapter 16

 Chapter 16

 Kate watched the horizon sway and decided that the alcohol she had brought along was definitely not the godsend thing that would finally get her into fishing. She had decided to give the boat another chance because Graeme had told her that it was the sort of thing that grew on you. All she could feel growing was a creeping numbness through her buttocks and a possible rising damp making her go mouldy from the ankles.

She sighed and screwed the cap back onto her wine. No more of that.

“So, you think I should?” She asked, Graeme looked up giving her a surprised expression.

“Why wouldn’t you?” He said, simply. Kate pondered the answer; why wouldn’t she? What would they do? Just her and Polly? See some sights? Neither of them had the sort of skin that could handle hot sun. And to go anywhere too far away or exotic would require all sorts of money that she didn’t definitely didn’t have. On the other hand though, if she was going away it would be a good excuse to buy all sorts of things that she definitely needed… a new suitcase, one of those neck pillows to keep her comfy on the plane, a book to read while travelling?

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I? Where would we go though?” She watched interestedly as Graeme reeled back in his line and pulled out the end of it to reveal nothing but the bright coloured thingy he’d put in. Fishing didn’t look anything like it did in cartoons. It was much fancier. Fish must have got cleverer since cartoon times.

“Well, you can go anywhere you want to go.” Graeme threw the line back in and Kate sighed. Graeme was lovely; they were getting on well as friends but sometimes his very straightforward attitude to things wore a little thin. He seemed to see no complications with anything, or, if he did see complications, he quickly reasoned them through and dismissed them so that they didn’t seem very complicated any more. Of course, Kate knew that in theory she could go anywhere she’d like to go… but that didn’t help. How could she go anywhere she wanted to go when she didn’t know where she’d want to go because she had never been there to know if she’d like it?

“Where was the best place you’ve ever been?” She asked Graeme, hoping for some inspiration although not being entirely sure they would have the same tastes if this boat and all this silence and space was his idea of a brilliant Sunday. There seemed to be so much more horrible room to think out at sea.

“Iceland,” Graeme said instantly, “Reykjavik to be precise. The only city I’ve ever really, really loved. I loved all of Iceland to be fair - so quiet and the Northern Lights were amazing. Plenty of time on the sea.”

Kate was quite surprised. She couldn’t really imagine Graeme on a plane - she’d been expecting him to say Exmoor or something equally dull. But of course he like the peace and the sea. “When did you go?” She asked.

“Four years ago. With my ex.”

Now Kate was really surprised. He didn’t really talk about his ex that much. “Oh right, was that very long before you broke up?”

“We broke up on the holiday” said Graeme, “I proposed, she said no, that’s the end.”

Now Kate was gobsmacked. “And that was your BEST holiday ever?” She was hovering over her knees now trying to prise this conversation out of Graeme. It was so slow. Like trying to open a tin can with your house key.

Graeme laughed, relaxed, “You didn’t ask me what my best holiday was… you asked me for the best place I’d ever been. And it wasn’t Iceland’s fault that we split up.”

“Ok, semantics,” said Kate, “So what was the best holiday you’ve ever been on…?”

Graeme tested the line and pondered, “Iceland.” He said eventually and Kate slammed back in the boat so hard she nearly capsized them, “Careful!” Graeme warned, steadying himself against the rocking.

“You can’t say that a holiday where you got dumped while proposing was your best holiday ever, you just can’t?”

“Why not?” Graeme seemed genuinely confused.

“Because you broke up with someone! That’s awful! By definition any other holiday you went on where you didn’t get broken up with must have been better.”

“What if I’ve been broken up with on every holiday I’ve ever been on?” Graeme countered.

“Then: 1. You need to stop wasting money on flights and start proposing in this country, and 2. You haven’t so just answer the question.” Kate was good naturedly losing patience.

“I have answered the question you just don’t like the answer.” Graeme said mildly, “It was my best holiday. I didn’t propose to her until the last night, so really, the heart break didn’t really ruin much of the trip. I had some lovely meals, I really enjoyed myself and then I came home single. Now, I doubt Gemma would agree it was her best holiday: she apparently had such a dull time that she said no and cried all the way home because I don’t talk enough, but you didn’t ask her - you asked me.”

Kate found the way Graeme’s brain worked legitimately fascinating. How could he compartmentalise so well? Why didn’t all his thoughts blur in an impossible buzz into his sight and hearing?

“Iceland, then is it? Good enough to cover even the very worst outcome.”

“It’ll be cold this time of year mind.” Graeme warned. Kate nodded. Yes, the weather wherever they went was bound to be a problem… probably best to go somewhere that was a city so they could bar hop and stay near a hot chocolate. Probably somewhere in Europe so they could maximise the time away without spending most of it travelling.

When she got back to the house that evening and had thawed out in the shower, she phoned Polly to tell her that she was game for a trip. If she could borrow the money. Polly was thrilled and Kate had to hold the phone away from her ear to stop the squealing from cracking her skull.

“I’ve already decided where we’re going!” Said Polly excitedly and Kate held her breath in anticipation.

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