By: Heide Goody

As we neared the local community centre by the church, Cookie hitched her thumb down a side road. “I’m heading down this way.”

“You don’t live in that direction,” I said.

She gave me a salacious wink. “You two crazy lovebirds, I know when the universe needs me to travel my own path.”

“Yeah, but that street’s a dead end,” said James.

“Yeah, but is it?” said Cookie.

“It is.”

“Yeah, but is it? Or is it your attitude that’s a dead end?”

“It’s the road. I’m fairly sure.”

Cookie stood on one leg, spun round and went her own special way.

We carried on. James linked arms with me and I thrilled at his closeness.

We passed the community centre. A group of pensioners stood outside. They were the same ones that I’d seen spinning around the lamp post yesterday. They all wore purple t-shirts and I squinted, trying to read what it said on the back. They were doing creaky squats and lunges, as though they’d been exercising.

“What does it say on those t-shirts?” I asked James.

He looked. “It says Ashbert’s Golden Years Parkour Academy,” he said.

I let the words sink in. Ashbert’s new venture looked popular. More people, old and young, were pressing through the doors of the community hall. As we reached the doors we could hear people talking.

“Such a nice young man. He’s done all of the little jobs around my garden that I can’t get to anymore.”

“He’s been a godsend. When he does the shopping, it’s bang-on. Gets the bargains, he does.”

“Brought him a little present that I’ve knitted for him.”

We stopped and looked through a window. Ashbert, my one-time perfect man, was there with his adoring pensioner army. He was smiling and chatting with them all. On the table behind him was a stack of white cards, many with red ticks over them. White cards, sort of postcard size, the sort you sometimes see in a newsagent’s window.

“Help others. Help yourself,” I murmured to myself.

“What’s that?” said James.

“Something I said.” I shook my head, smiling. “Whatever you do, make yourself happy.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said James. “So, Uncle Phil and Theo are out at the Jaguar owner’s club together and won’t be back until much later.”

“Oh?” I said.

“Maybe we can find something to do to entertain ourselves when we get back to my place.”

“That would be nice,” I said.

“Nice?” he asked. “Is that the best word you can come up with?”

I turned to him. “What word would you use?”

He thought for a moment. “Exciting.”

“Exciting.” I was looking forward to some excitement. I let my fingers drift across the tweedy roughness of his jacket. “Something exciting. Something raunchy.”

“Raunchy? I really do hope so,” he said. “So, something exciting, something raunchy, something… magical.”

I thought briefly of the thunderbolt which was safely shut away in a suitcase under my bed in Adam’s flat.

A distant shout came from over the rooftops. “It’s a bloody dead end!”

Grinning to ourselves, laughing like secretive teenagers, we hurried on.


We are indebted to a number of people, including members of THE Book Club (TBC) and Rachael Bowen for helping us to shape this book.

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