“I’m not that old,” Ed said to himself. He had always mumbled and muttered, but found that the more he aged, the more his inner discourse became outer discourse. He tried not to let it worry him. Young people talked to themselves, didn’t they? He wasn’t old! “On my birthday Mike told me that 50 is the new 30. Mike should know. He’s, what, 6 or 7 years older than me, and he is more active than I have ever been in my entire life. Hell, he spends a week skiing in Aspen every year. Wish I could afford to ski in Aspen….”
He wasn’t sure how it happened, but Ed had checked out of the B&B and moved into Liza’s spare room. He was lying on the bed, fully clothed and on top of the covers, tired, but not ready for sleep.
Part of the problem was the pain.
He ached in places he never knew existed.
“It was the fall, that’s it. I shouldn’t have been traipsing around the moor after such an accident. And running too! I don’t run. Must be the problem.”
For some reason he wasn’t totally convinced. He remembered his coworker Bill telling him that it is all downhill after 45. Every day there would be new aches and pains. Every day he would discover something else he could no longer do. Every day he would…
“Stop it! 50 isn’t that old.”
He couldn’t really guess Liza’s age. Older but not ancient, but it was difficult to be more specific than that. It’s not polite to talk about a woman’s age anyway. Perhaps 67. Possibly 70. 72? Well, if he had to put a number on it, 68 was good compromise. Not that he would put a number on it. Of course not.
How many times had she said “people our age” during their conversation? How often did she say something about “our generation”? Did everyone lump him in with 68 year olds?
Not that he was guessing her age or trying to judge her on it. Of course not.
He suddenly felt ancient.
He got up and looked out of the window. It was dusk, the sun already down, but an afterglow of the evening still hanging in the air. He could see the glimmer of lights from the village in the distance. Around Lisa’s house, though, all was dark. There were no other houses on the moor, hers was the farthest out. That was one reason Dr. Smyth had him taken there, so she said, it was close to where his car was parked near the waterfall.
A tentative knock came from the door.
“Mr. Pulman? Are you still up? I saw the light was on.”
“Yes, I’m up and wide awake.”
“Me too. Are you decent?”
“Are you sure?”
Ed remembered jumping out of bed in the morning with nothing on but his smile. He unconsciously looked down at his fully clothed body. He turned red.
“Yes, Mrs. Smyth, I’m sure.”
“It’s Liza, if you don’t mind. I’m going to…”
Before she finished, Ed opened the door.
“…come in. Oh, hello Mr. Pulman.”
“If you are Liza, I am Ed, OK? Anything on your mind this evening?”
“I was just wondering, don’t you know, just had a thought…” There was an odd glint, a strange glimmer in her eye. “Well, I was wondering if you would like to have a bit of an adventure this evening.” She looked down, as if shy.
“What type of adventure where you thinking about, Liza?” Ed was a little nervous. Liza had a hungry look throughout dinner, but that look seemed to have less to do with food than with him. He felt rather the way he imagined a mouse must feel when confronted with a cat.
“I was thinking about a walk. Have you ever walked out on the moors at night, Mr. P.., I mean Edward? I know you haven’t. Silly question. But you will love it. Your great uncle Stanly couldn’t stay away. He was out there every night possible.”
“My great uncle? How did you know about my great uncle?” Ed tried to remember if had mention him the Liza. He did talk to the historian, Mr. Brown, but he didn’t think he’d used a name.
“How could I not? You look just like him. Act like him, too. That, of course, may be a trait more inherited from being a Yank than from a common relative.”
She was giving Ed the look he thought of as the “hungry cat” look. “You knew my great uncle?”
“Of course I did. He stayed with us when he visited this country. This house. We had a bedroom set up just for him. This very room. Of course he never used it when Father was away for business. I hear that Father was away for business a lot before I came along.” The glimmer came back to her eyes.
“And when your father was out of town? Sorry, sorry, none of my business…”
“But it is just your business. Stanley never knew it, but he had a child over here. One he met many times. A daughter.”
“You mean…” Ed didn’t complete his sentence, just stared at the woman, wide eyed.
“Exactly. He was my real father. Which makes us cousins, doesn’t it?”
“Come, cousin,” she took a hand, “let’s go outside and explore!”
Without realizing it, Ed let out a little giggle. On odd feeling, a glimmer of hope and youth, coursed through his veins. Liza gave him that same look she had been using, which he suddenly realized was that of a ten year old conspiring with her little cousin, not a look of sexual appetite. She winked her conspirator wink. He felt like an eight year old.
“Yes, cousin!” he said. “Let’s go explore!”
Chapter 7 is now up!
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