“Why did I say I’d do this?” Sylvia Tremblay muttered as she readjusted her scarf to better protect her neck from the chilly spring breeze. She peered up at the steel-grey clouds that covered Sunshine Bay and hoped it wouldn’t rain.
Because the doctor insisted that you try walking, the taskmaster in her head answered in a voice that sounded remarkably like her late mother’s. A voice that was practical. Bossy. You must try something. The pills and talk therapy don’t seem to be working anymore. Do you want to live like this for the rest of your life?
As if walking among daffodils and the first buds of spring was going to help her get over this. Mark was gone, and she was alone. She would always be alone.
Stop that. He’s gone, and you need to move on. You need to find your old self… the Sylvia you were before this dark cloud settled over you. Before Mark.
Sylvia nodded in agreement with her mother’s voice, squared her shoulders against the breeze, and continued to walk.
She had promised the doctor, and now that she was here in the gardens of the city park, she would try to enjoy the morning. It was a normal thing, to take a morning stroll. And it was safer to walk now than in the afternoon. She was less likely to run into people in the morning. She wasn’t ready for people yet. Especially men. She hadn’t been comfortable around people since Mark’s illness and death two years earlier. Since the black…
What was that? Something caught her eye. Small and…
Sylvia paused in the middle of the path to take in the sight before her, and a small sigh of contentment escaped her lips. How long had it been since she’d smiled? It felt like two long years. And yet here she was, smiling over a little black cat napping in the first rays of warm spring sunshine that had penetrated the clouds above.
Sylvia lowered herself to the bench nearby, happy to find this quiet spot away from people. People made her nervous. But animals, especially this cat…
The cat startled from its sleep and leaped to all four feet. Sylvia jerked in surprise.
“You scared me,” Sylvia said. The cat faced her, eyes wary, as it backed toward the underbrush near the path.
“Oh, don’t rush off so soon. Here, kitty, kitty.” Sylvia rose and stretched out her hand, willing the cat to approach her. The cat turned and ran to the safety of the tangled underbrush, pausing to turn, frozen in place, watching Sylvia.
“You won’t get that one to come out,” a deep voice said from behind her. Sylvia whirled to see a tall man dressed in overalls, smiling at her from under the brim of a conductor’s cap. “That cat’s been here for years,” he continued. “I see it in the mornings when I come to work. She doesn’t like people much. I’ve tried to be friendly, but she runs away.”
“Perhaps she’s always been feral.” Sylvia’s heart pounded. The anxiety that had been her near-constant companion in recent months rose in her chest. She was surprised she could even get the words out.
“I don’t think so,” the man said. “I was told she belonged to an elderly couple who used to live across the street. They died in a fire a few years back, and she’s been here ever since.”
“How sad,” Sylvia said. She glanced at the cat, feeling a sudden kinship with it. They’d both been yanked from their old world and forced to find their footing in a new one.
“She gets a lot of mice, though. We don’t see many at the train station.”
“Train station?” Sylvia asked, congratulating herself on her nearly normal-sounding voice as she fought to relax and breathe as if she talked to strange men every day.
“Yes, behind there.” The man pointed to a wall of boards painted to appear like a stone fence. “There’s a train that runs all summer for the children. I drive it and do some of the maintenance. The season starts in two weeks, so I’m here getting ready for our spring launch.”
“The children must enjoy that,” Sylvia said, mentally kicking herself for continuing to engage with this man. She wanted to be alone to commune with the cat she was watching. The cat was watching her in return.
“Oh, yes, the children seem to like it. I enjoy it too. Always wanted to drive a train, so I took it up after I retired.” He smiled.
“Uh-huh.” Sylvia nodded. He didn’t look old enough to be retired. He looked about her age.
Was she noticing a man? What would Mark say?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish