A basket of strawberries, over a slender brown arm, gleaming in the heady sun of July.
A basket of strawberries, and fields rolling away with greenery and promise. Insects buzzing in the thickets nearby, birds chirruping, as a soft breeze swooping through the very tips of the trees, a gentle swooshing sound, bringing a coolness that prickled the tiniest hairs on her skin.
Perhaps now she would turn, and would see a tall, handsome figure walking up the hill towards her. Perhaps he would call on her to wait for him. She would stand, alright, and wait for him, and when he joined her he would whisk her away somewhere. He would have his motorcar waiting, and they would sail into the horizon. Where would they go? She wasn’t entirely sure, but it would be somewhere great. She would look upon his face and a thread of understanding would pass from his eyes to hers. She stood, now, in the long, almost still, summer afternoon, at the crest of the hill, with the scenery rolling away from her, far into the distance, and shadows of clouds drifting lazily across the sunny landscape.
And so, so still, almost like a picture.
‘Hi! Laura! Hiiii!’
She whipped around, her basket almost slipping from her arm. A tall figure, marching up the hill towards her. He was waving his hat madly, certainly not her mysterious handsome stranger. He was handsome, there was no denying that. Handsome, but so… so … familiar. For it was only Tom.
‘Oh. It’s you.’ she said, when he had reached her, and she continued to pick her way across the field. She lifted her skirts a little, the meadow grass rising high above her hem.
‘You say that like you are disappointed,’ he said, there was a small twinkle in his eye, so slight, and it irritated her.
‘Am I not the handsome stranger you so anticipated?’
She looked sharply at him, but there was only amusement in his eyes. Bright, mirthful eyes, as blue as the deep sky all around them.
‘No, not disappointed,’ she said lightly, shifting the basket to her other arm. He glanced inside. Strawberries of all kinds and colours tumbled over each other, small ones, big ones, shaped like tomatoes and hearts, bright red, gentle pink, red tinged with white and green.
‘I’ve come to drag you back for supper.’
‘Much ado about supper,’ she picked a wild strawberry from her basket and popped it into her mouth, ‘I’m not hungry’.
‘Your sister sent me after you,’ he said, ‘I’m to bring you home immediately.’
‘Well you needn’t always do as you’re told,’ she scolded, severely, ‘I was rather enjoying my solitude and expecting to have an adventure, until you came along and dis-enthralled the occasion.’
‘Oh, I dis-enthralled the occasion, did I. And what occasion was this, that it commanded you to trail your muddy skirts in solitude through the fields?’
‘Never you mind!’ she snapped.
‘My, but you are sour today.’
She sighed, and then glanced at him. He was looking expectantly at her, and his face was so youthful, so carefree, and his eyes danced just so, in that boyish way of his, that she relented a little.
‘I was longing for an adventure,’ she said, finally, stooping a little to pick a wild stalk from by her feet, ‘and I supposed, when I saw your figure in the distance, that you might be it.’
He contemplated her for a few moments, and his face was blank, and then he erupted into loud laughter, and she laughed with him, because it was frivolous and silly, and he made it seem so carefree, and it made her happy.
‘Ah, hence the disappointment’, he said, wiping his eyes, ‘come now, Laura, your adventure shall not forsake you, but it is time to go back for supper, else they’ll all be mad, and we shall have a merry time of it.’
Irritation set in again, and made her square her shoulders, ‘need they be so .. so.. rigid!?’
‘They are worried,’ he smiled gently, ‘John isn’t here, so I expect I am your company for the evening, and your mother wanted to make sure that you were available for it, and behaved like the lady that you are.’
‘Well, is the promise of my being company not enough to entice your stubborn spirit?’
Laura threw her head back and laughed heartily, ‘Oh, Tom. Company, really?! You aren’t company anymore. You don’t need me there to entertain you, when all the others are there. You’re simply — why, you’re part of the furniture!’
He regarded her silently, and the laughter vanished from his eyes. She didn’t notice, for her back was to him, as she sailed along ahead of him.
The breeze rustled through the tall meadow grass, the buttercups and wild daises rippling in wonderful waves across the sloping hills, the wind pushing clouds along in the sky, the leaves gently conversing with each other in the distant thicket. A loud motorcar announced itself on the road just beyond the field, whizzing past in a flash of silver and red, and then silence once more. Silence and the earthly sounds of nature, and the two of them, picking their way through the field and on to the road, her ahead, him behind.