It was late. Hannah had a long day at work compounded by a hectic drive home through the evening rush hour traffic. She hung up her coat on the coat stand in the hallway and kicked off her shoes beside it then, too exhausted to prepare anything to eat or drink, she went straight to her bed room. The room was a little stuffy so she opened the small window to let in the fresh countryside air. She closed the curtains, undressed then climbed into bed. After staring into the darkness for a short while, her mind elsewhere, she turned over on to her side and closed her eyes.
“Hannah.” a voice whispered.
Hannah opened her eyes with a start, reached out, switched on the bedside lamp and looked over her shoulder. There was no one there though she noticed the curtains fluttering.
“Hmm, must be the sound of the wind.”
She switched off the lamp, lay down and closed her eyes again.
“Hannah!” the voice whispered once more, though this time it sounded familiar.
“Sean?” she asked as she strained to see in the darkness.
Again there was no one there and this time she noticed that the curtains were still.
“Tch, I must be hearing things.”
She lay down again and gradually fell asleep.
“Hannah, wake up; go to the tree.”
This time Hannah was sure about the voice and knew what the words meant. She looked at the clock: it was 2am.
“Hope I don’t wake the neighbours when I start the car up,” she muttered as she hurriedly readied herself and stepped outside to the car.
The journey to the picturesque village of Shade was just over half an hour away, half that at this time of night. The silhouetted village was fast asleep with its street lights out, and the only sound was from Hannah’s little car as it tip-toed its way over the gravel parking area beside the old church and parked. She turned off the headlights, quietly closed the car door and found herself almost in total darkness, the starlit sky providing the only glimmer of light.
She carefully made her way across the car park towards the dirt track that sloped up the length of the cemetery wall and beyond. The track was extensively used during the day by ramblers and people on horseback and therefore was quite muddy. Although it was dark, Hannah was familiar with the track and managed to negotiate its incline by keeping close to the wall and then the fence. Finally she reached the top that led into the open countryside. She was now only a few yards from the tree.
The sturdy majestic oak tree with its spreading branches was their secret place; their castle from where she and Sean surveyed their make believe kingdom all around. Hannah approached the tree and placed the palm of her hands upon its rugged bark for a moment in order to feel its energy. After a few moments she turned and leaned her back against it, just as she and Sean always did together, and waited for him.
“Hannah,” a gentle voice suddenly spoke from the darkness.
Hannah turned to see Sean standing next to her leaning against the tree. He took her gently by the hand.
“Thank you for coming,” he said.
“Oh Sean, it’s been so long.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Please, there are no sorrys between us, Sean.”
“Yes I know, this is the way it has to be.”
He turned to face her, placed his arms around her waist,pulled her close and began exploring her face with the tip of his nose and lips in turn, scenting and tasting her cheeks, the nape of her neck and her wild hair; tenderly biting her ear lobes and gently breathing into her ears making her both giggle and quiver. He ran his lips along hers to the corners of her mouth, then back to the soft, inviting centre and paused for a moment to smell her sweet breath.
“Mmm,” he groaned.”
Sean stared into her eyes.
Their lips met in a deep long passionate kiss.
Sean finally pulled his head back and gazed at her.
“I’m floating,” she replied, her face flushed.
Hannah closed her eyes as they kissed once more.
A breeze suddenly blew between them causing Hannah to open her eyes and find herself in bed with her arms wrapped tightly around her moist pillow. She looked at the clock: it was 3.30am, then scornfully looked across at the curtains – they fluttered to a halt.
‘You,’ she groaned.
She leaned over and switched on the lamp, opened the bedside cabinet drawer and pulled out her bible. She opened it at the Psalms where she found a newspaper cutting, which she held in her hand and quietly read.
‘On the 5th of February, Sean Harper aged 41 beloved son of Mary and Alan, loving brother of Celia and Margaret and dearly loved uncle to Oliver and Rebecca and beloved fiancé of Hannah, suddenly left us.’
“I must go to the cemetery this weekend and place flowers on his grave,” Hannah said as she carefully folded the cutting and placed it back in the bible then returned it to the drawer.
She rose and closed the window, straightened the curtains then went for a drink of water.
Stepping into the kitchen she stumbled over something on the floor. She switched the light on and was startled to discover that it was one of her shoes. ‘How did that get in here?’ Moreover, when she picked it up she noticed mud and grass on the sole. Her coat, which now mysteriously hung on the back of a kitchen chair, held the faint imprint of tree bark across the shoulder.