Life Begins At Thirty : Chapter Nine


Parklife

It was a few days later that I met Hannah.

We decided to meet in Regents Park. I love London’s central parks. Regents Park and Hyde Park are both so large that you can almost forget that you are standing in the middle of a large metropolis. Any time you get tired of the city, stressed out, you can go there and get back to nature and relax. And then a plane flies overhead and wakes you up again.

I was sat on a bench near to the boating lake on the south west side of Regents Park. I watched the tourists taking pictures with their comically large iPad’s, the joggers jogging around the lake, the couples eating picnics, the children running around on the grass and chasing the many pigeons, the majestic swans which strutted around the edges of the lake wondering why their habitat was being so disturbed. Then I saw Hannah and Caroline walk towards me.

Hannah was even more beautiful in the daylight. Her long blonde hair was tied back and her round cheekbones and bright blue eyes stood out. A gold chain around her neck hung down drawing attention to her small breasts. Her body looked even more stunning than I remembered, no doubt because this time she was wearing clothes that actually fit her, a tight white t shirt and skinny jeans. She looked amazing. Out of my league.

Caroline also looked different in the daylight, without the make-up, without the lingerie. Her dark hair was untidy, frizzy. Her face spotty with bags under her eyes. How different she had looked a few nights ago in the low light of the strip club, face full of make-up and half-naked body shining with glitter.

I stood up to greet them. It felt like I left my stomach behind but I ignored it and stepped forward to greet Hannah. We said our hello’s and hugged nervously and sat together whilst Caroline walked sat on a nearby bench ready to rescue her friend if she needed it.

“This is weird” Hannah said. “I don’t know your name but I feel like I know you so well”

“Renner” I said “That’s my name.”

“That’s a palindrome isn’t it?” Hannah smiled. “Oh my god I remember you told me that”

“Yeah. Caroline said you don’t remember anything of that night? We didn’t have that much to drink that night did we?”

Hannah blushed. “I’m a bit of a lightweight I’m afraid, I’d never had a drink before I met Caroline in September”

“So that’s why you left that morning?”

“Yes. I’m sorry that morning I didn’t know who I’d woken up next to, didn’t remember anything. It’s slowly started to come back. I can’t believe we found each other again” Hannah spoke frantically and apologetically and made any doubts, any lingering unpleasantness I may have felt after waking up that morning melt away.

Part of me wanted to grab her right there and kiss her, show her how I felt at that moment, but in my head I imagined Caroline leaping into action at any sudden move I made and knocking me into the lake. I do that a lot, think about the worst possible outcome to my actions.  Picture it in my head. Find myself paralysed by the possibility that it just might happen. In my head I’m the clumsiest, most unlucky person in the world. I trip, I fall, I injure those I want to protect, I fall in front of the tube train entering the station and die a painful death all in the blink of an eye.

“So…” Hannah woke me from my melancholy daydream. She was looking at me, waiting for me to speak.

“We should go do something, you hungry?” I asked, startled, panicked, and trying to sound calm.

“I could eat” Caroline had walked over whilst I day-dreamt.

“Sure” Hannah said unsure.