In Sickness and in Welsh: Chapter 3 – Near or Far

Rhys walked for what felt like hours. He could feel the walk unwinding the long drive inside his muscles. They’d been bound up tightly from the bumpy one lane roads that led to the town. The moving truck didn’t have much by the way of good suspension and that combined with a load of furniture hadn’t helped him at all.

He’d kept a good pace as he walked. At first, he’d walked slowly and tried to take in the different trees and formations of the land, then he’d given that up and just walked. His mind was racing faster than he could walk so he let it go. It went back through the last few months without stopping and without giving him a chance to protect himself from anything that could hurt him.

Leaving the city hadn’t really been his idea. Well, initially it had been a joint endeavour, and then a solo endeavour with the possibility for holidays and adventures together, and then, finally, a way to escape that ruins of his life that seemed to be collapsing around his ears.

He thought back to last Winter. It felt like so long ago. It was months. Only months. His brain found that so hard to comprehend. His heart had walled itself off long ago, well, enough ago that it was done trying to make sense of what had happened. It was the logic untangling that he was doing now. The search to see if there were any signs. The search to see if there were symptoms he could have used to diagnose the problem rather than suddenly realise he was up to his elbows in this.

The girl he’d met in med school had stood by his side for a very long time. He didn’t think of her with her name anymore, she was just ‘the girl’. It helped. Maybe. They’d done everything together and she’d been there to prop him up when he was drowning in study and work and interning. Together, they were going to conquer the world. She was going to come out and set up a small accounting business and he was going to work at the local hospital and they were going to have a baby. Until there wasn’t a baby. Until he found out she’d lied about the whole thing. No baby. No plans. No way was she travelling to a tiny town and spending the prime of her life in a backwater.

He was near running now and he forced himself to stop and catch his breath. He noted now that he’d somehow left the trees. A quick glance behind him and he saw the neat line where it stopped being a forest and started to be a wide-open glen. He took in this surroundings: a cool breeze that smelled like the ocean, green grass rolling down to golden sand, waves lapping in the distance, and blue sky that looked like a postcard. Backwater. He’d take it over the dirty, noisy, city filled with insincere people any day.

Standing straight he smoothed his pale blue jumper, removing non-existent creases. He ran a hand through his hair noting it was long enough to whip about in the breeze but still not quite long enough to need cutting. He turned on the spot and allowed it to wash over him and cleanse him in the way crisp air could and then he saw a figure.

The bundled up figure was standing down where the grass met the sand and was facing away from him. He felt a tad embarrassed wondering if anyone had seen him come barrelling out of the trees only to stop for a moment and then twirl on the spot. That wasn’t exactly normal people behaviour. Hopefully no one would recognise him yet anyway.

Rhys studied the figure and walked toward the person. He could see hair blowing in the wind but couldn’t tell much else about the person. They stood stock still. He walked closer and closer and waited for the person to turn. Was he supposed to announce himself? Could he do that with the wind blowing toward him anyway? He decided to move to the side and approach that way. It would be weird to walk up behind a person he thought. He’d hate for someone to do that to him.

He circled to the side, and as he did that the person turned and locked eyes with him. It was a woman. A short, well-wrapped up woman. She looked straight at him and he felt himself being judged. He could almost feel her tallying up things against him – at least, hopefully he was misinterpreting her eyes.

“Good day,” she said as she walked past him.

“Good day…” he said back as she walked past him and headed away.

Rhys resisted the urge to follow her and introduce himself. He flopped down onto the grass and evaluated his day. Moving in, mentally reliving the last few months of his life, and startling his potential neighbours. All good healthy tasks a person could really get into.

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