A love story
Kitty peddled as hard as she could feeling a rush of excitement as she veered off the wide chalky path which ran alongside the Rio Segura, taking the narrow offshoot leading down to the orange groves, eventually coming to a shaky halt and straddling the bicycle to admire the breathtaking view. A backdrop of mountains gave way to acres of arable land, fields planted with artichokes, others with broad beans and others she didn’t recognise. In between were olive trees and in the forefront and surrounding her, orange groves. Rows and rows of evenly planted trees laden with fruit.
Pushing her bike, she stopped to pluck an orange that was overhanging the fence, remembering from way back that this was allowed, and propped her bike up before peeling the succulent fruit, savouring the juicy flesh, leaning to one side to avoid the juice dripping onto her white pedal pushers. She was wearing a straw hat to protect her from the fierce heat and a loose, floaty top and was grateful for the thirst-quenching treat which tasted like no other orange she had ever eaten since leaving this special place in 1982. Enjoying the sweet, sunshine-infused flesh of the fruit, Kitty was transported back thirty-five years, when she and Paolo had first met. He had been a student on an exchange visit that was only supposed to last for a year but, like most visitors to Spain, he had fallen in love and found the pull to stay strong. But it wasn’t just the country that had won his heart. The youngsters had caught each other’s eye while working during the holidays in the orange groves and after working long days, they would while away the sultry evenings on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the ancient church clock tower, its centuries-old façade crumbling and cracked, would watch over them and all the other patrons who sat whiling away the evenings over coffee and brandy in a convivial atmosphere. The clock was famous for being twenty minutes slow and the locals thought it hilarious, like some private joke between them, never sharing it with tourists or forasteros. People who didn’t belong. Her iPhone rang, jerking her back to the present.
“Hi! How are you?” she asked breezily, seeing Bryan’s name come up on the screen with a photo of him looking rather dapper in a dark green fedora. She wedged the phone between her chin and shoulder as she struggled with a tissue…