Alex made his way one grey skyed winter morning. Time had stooped to an awful slow. Rain began falling and he took a minute to unfurl his coat from his bag and set it about him. As he rummaged with the cloth a darkness and a noise went over and about him, and he turned about with wide eyes. ‘Who’s there?’ he said. But only the grass and the sea looked back at him, and the muddy road stretching along the coast in between. So he went on his way, in no hurry to get where he did not want to be, particularly so on this day. He liked the rain, and wished he could spend all day alone in it, in the empty fields. The fields always looked so inviting, especially on a rainy morning, as they overlooked the sea and sloped slowly up to far away peaks, capped with snow.
Soon he recognised a familiar figure making his way on towards him, on the back of a donkey. Another followed him, smaller, which he did not recognise. As they came closer, Alex saw that it was a small girl, whose face spelled much the same feeling as Alex held for himself that morning, but perhaps even more so. Perhaps, he thought, she was not fond of a rainy day.
‘Good day young man’. Said the bleared man, jollily, catching Alex by more than surprise.
‘Uh, hello.’ Alex said. The pair had stopped, and a silence descended, while the old man simply smiled. The girl looked into Alex’s eyes and it seemed to him that a spark lit within, and the corner of her mouth hinted at a smile. ‘Is this your daughter sir?’
‘No, no,’ the man giggled, jiggling on the donkey’s back and shaking his beard. Then he paused to think for a second. ‘Oh… well, perhaps, you might say that, not as you think of it, though…’ he said, and disappeared into thought, leaving Alex completely struck by wonder.
‘He is my friend, we have no blood relation,’ said the girl. ‘My father lives in another land. I am Celest. And are you Alex?’
Alex wondered how, but somehow was not surprised why the girl knew his name. Perhaps they had known each other briefly some time or other. ‘Yes, that’s me. I’ve seen your friend often, but not you. Where are you from.’
The girl laughed. ‘We can show you, if you like, but we can’t tell you. We’ve come to invite you to visit our home, it’s not far at all.’
Alex liked the sound of her laughter. It seemed to promise happiness, just by the sound of it. ‘Well, if it’s not far, I guess I won’t be missed for half a day or so.’
‘We’ll have you back by the afternoon!’ said the old man.
‘Will you ride with me or walk?’ said the girl.
Alex smiled and accepted her hand, which was strong, stronger than he expected.