I met Rob in Spring. We had been chatting on an internet dating site and, after about a month of lighthearted on-line banter, I agreed to give him my phone number. We chatted every evening for about a week before we arranged to meet in a public place for a coffee. I chose to meet up in a garden centre. That way I could make a quick escape amid the plants if we didn’t get on, or worse, if he looked nothing like his photos. My friends had told me stories of meeting someone who looked at least twenty years older than their photos, so I was well prepared to run if necessary.
However we duly met at Seasons Garden Centre at 11am on a Saturday in early April. Our bonding was immediate and, like the season we were in, fresh. He was charming, irresistible and very amusing. He had a huge sense of humour and teased me non stop. We lingered over our coffees, then had another and decided to eat as well. This was going better than I could have ever hoped, at my time of life. We ended up wandering around the garden centre with a couple of trolleys. By the time we reached the check outs my trolley was full with trays of bright pansies, polyanthus, aubretia, saxifrage and pots of little daffs, although Rob had only put a few bags of compost into his trolley, along with some boring vegetable seeds for his allotment. We reluctantly parted company, agreeing to meet on the following Saturday morning. Same time, same place.
We carried on chatting on the phone every evening. He would ring me from his mobile. He said he didn’t bother with a landline. His job took him all over the country and there seemed to be little point having a landline as he was hardly ever home. I have to say I did actually wonder why he had an allotment if he was hardly ever home, but he explained that an allotment friend used to water it for him while he was away.
Spring rolled into summer. Rob and I had been meeting every Saturday over coffee and cake either at Seasons Garden Centre, or somewhere we could go for a walk locally afterwards. It was several weeks into June before Rob decided to ask me out for the day. He was due a day off work. A whole day with him. I was a bit nervous of spending a whole day. What if we ran out of conversation? However I agreed it would be nice to go to out for the day.
He said he would pick me up at my house and we could drive to Blakeney on the East Coast, take a boat trip to see the seals and then go on to the bird sanctuary at Cley Marshes. Wonderful!
On the day I was up early packing a picnic. Rob had never been to my house before and as he lived some 50 odd miles away I was surprised that he managed to turn up on time at 7am. I volunteered to do the driving, as he had already had a bit of a journey and would have to drive home again in the evening.
We drove the two and a half hour journey in the early morning sunshine, chatting easily. It promised to be a good day. It was. It was blazing hot. I was glad I had brought a sun hat. We arrived in Blakeney in plenty of time to catch the 11am boat to see the seals. On our return we sat in the shade of a tree with our picnic before driving on to Cley Marshes, where we had a guided tour around the sanctuary. At least we could escape the heat in the shade of the hides for a while.
As the day began to cool a little we returned to Blakeney for a drink and an early evening meal before our long drive home. What a wonderful day. Rob and I had got on well all day, and didn’t run out of conversation. Yet I still had misgivings about forming a relationship with him. Both of us had been badly bruised by previous relationships.
Back at home I offered Rob a cup of coffee before his drive home. I sat on the arm chair opposite the settee where he was sitting, wanting to be sure that he knew I was not expecting him to stay for the night. He was a perfect gentleman, and after finishing his coffee he bid me farewell and drove off home, having given me a peck on my offered cheek as he left.
The year rolled on into autumn. Rob and I started meeting less frequently. He was having a lot to do on his allotment, harvesting his crops, so could not spare too much time at the weekends. Eventually it became almost a monthly meetup rather than a weekly one. We would go for autumn walks through the woods, leaves rustling beneath our feet as we chatted away non stop. Rob would hold my hand, in a friendly sort of way. We would kiss each other hello and goodbye, but that was all. It was a warm, friendly, platonic relationship we had. We felt comfortable together, almost like an old married couple.
Christmas was looming. I hate Christmas these days. It’s no fun anymore now my family have fled to other parts of the world. I asked Rob what he was doing over Christmas. He said he was spending Christmas Day with his daughter. I said that he would be welcome to come and spend some time over the Christmas period with me.
“I have a spare room,” I said, just so he knew there was no pressure on him.
On Boxing Day Rob arrived at my house at eleven. He looked tired. I showed him to his room where he dumped his overnight case before coming down to the roast pork dinner I had prepared for us. We lingered by the roaring log fire with our coffees as it got dark. It was very cosy sitting together in the half light and suddenly Rob took my coffee cup away, placed it carefully on the coffee table and started to kiss me.
Rob died three weeks after Christmas. He had never even mentioned the fact that he had terminal cancer to me, well not until Boxing Day, when he told me that was why he had never made a move on me, why he’d had to cut our weekly meetings down to monthly meetings. The chemo sessions he was having took it out of him and he felt dreadful for the other three weeks of the month..
It is spring again now. I am sitting surrounded by the cheerful pots of daffodils in Seasons Garden Centre, on the anniversary of my meeting Rob for the first time last year, wondering why I had been such an April Fool, why I had wasted so much time by not getting to know him properly.
Creative writing homework July 2016: write a story around the seasons and the changes they bring