Day passed day for the remainder of the week, hopscotching towards Sunday and a welcome rest from duties of labour. What with the new tests he attended midweek, Walt’s preoccupation with recovering his losses and Margaret’s upset stomach he had been kept very busy indeed and had no time to worry over Monday, though it had always been at the back of his mind.

Laid in the field adjoining the farmhouse early Sunday morning, Margaret was in the parlour milking the herd, he realised that today might be the last in her company, at least for a while. Mulling over the options and trying to formulate a future there were a few thoughts to put to the diary. He laid belly down and faced a direction in which he could see anyone approaching and whispering into his hands began.

“Tomorrow I could be home Sal, goodness knows I long for ya but who knows what Aunt Bessie’s words might mean. Have I just been dreaming of her, has she really visited me in those dreams? I hope so. I hope it’s all true. I’ve made a lot of friends here, and caused a lot of interest I can tell ya. I guess I’m just putting these words down in case I don’t make it through alive and this handheld does. Tomorrow if I do get back we’ll go to the river and have a picnic…..” Now he was really clutching at straws.

A tear formed in the corner of his eyes; his thoughts had wandered to the river down in the park, the slow cascade of the water as it tumbled ever so gently over the fall rippling through every part of him. By now all the fields to the west would be carpeted with red poppies. Maybe tomorrow they would be able to walk through them, these blazon red fields, his wife and he, their hands caressed by a multitude of soft flower petals, walk hand in hand, husband and wife once again.

This time of the year would often find him sat on that river’s bank for an hour or so, watching the water’s current eddying back and forth, it even ventured back upstream in places returning from where it came. Leaves removed from the trees by the nesting birds in the canopy as they went about their daily routine would float here and there held upon the boundary between water and air.

Now these same bird’s came into mind, their twittering to each other across the watery divide. There would always be one group of them more vocal than the rest, perhaps defining some territory or calling out for partners. The long grasses on the banking side swaying ever so gently, caught by a welcome breeze making its way along the length of the river would reflect from the mirror like surface and whisper a note to accompany the birdsong, brushing his face and arms if he sat close enough.

Once in a while a trout would come up to the surface to feed. With a gulp of air it would take the unsuspecting meal into its mouth and cause ripples of excitement to its surface of confinement. Every so often too, some bird or other, asking the river’s bounty to offer something up for a meal, would fly down unaccompanied and skim the river, its wings almost dipping into the wet as it did so.

What would he give right now not to here that awful sound, a motorised bicycle engine somewhere in the distance. The guttural resonance echoed an annoyance to everyone between where it began and himself he was sure. There was no peace in this land as far as he could find, no sanctuary where only natures voice commanded. Almost everyone seemed to be competing for attention all the time. From music blaring out from open vehicle windows to machinery telling everyone of an occupation now in progress even the slightest tasks here seemed to be accompanied by some sort of noise.

The dance of the rivers water came back to mind. Those leaves blown like sails with any slight breeze across the water, moving them any way it liked, even in the direction opposing the current, tacking this way then that only to be returned back downstream when the energy used in their offset manoeuvre subsided. And from a tree a heavy flap of a wing, some larger bird taking flight, a wood pigeon perhaps, a reflection of both sound and vision evident as it set off upstream.

“There’s a lot I need to explain and a lot I am afraid to tell you to be honest,” he went on still in a whisper. “You won’t believe half the stuff that’s happened to me.” Best leave it at that for the moment he thought. If he did not make it through then there was no point in upsetting her. “The tests haven’t come in yet either, and to be honest I’m not waiting here to find out. But I do need to come back I to this world sometime I think if I do get home. There’s some unfinished business I need to try an sort out though how I’m not sure yet.” He told Sal of Walt’s money worries and tried to explain how it had come about. “If I can take advantage of this gift, if that’s what it proves to be, and help Walt then all this will not have been in vain. Perhaps that’s even the reason I’m here in the first place.”

The field gate clinked to. It was Margaret.

“Hi Mac. All finished at last.” She had the broadest of smiles on her face. “A day to ourselves eh! We deserve it luv don’t we.” She ran the last two yards to join him. He hid the handheld under the picnic blanket.

“You look better for getting up, you’re colour’s back.” She had looked somewhat pale on rising, that was for sure, not her usual self. If she had been, her usual self, then the morning would have began the way most other Sundays had, with an early morning romp around the bedroom. This morning that certainly had not happened.

“I feel a hundred times better luv.” Her grin was from cheek to cheek now. “We’re gonna have a nice day let me tell ya.”

“Let’s hope so, and let’s keep out the way o’ them pesky reporters.”

“I’ve not seen any yet.”

“Good Let’s hope it stays that way.”

“There’s still no sign of anybody telling of who you are either,” she went on.

Mac thought for a moment. That was a strange sentence to come from Margaret. “I know,” he replied unsure, “I don’t know what’ll happen, do you?”

“No. I thought we’d get them tests back first n’then I’m sure we can put everything behind us, think about making a fresh start without all them press eh! What d’ya think?”

“Sounds good to me.” It did actually, and if he had to stay here that is what he would want.

Laying down beside him prompted a thought of what he had missed out on this morning. Margaret was always so sexy in the way she behaved, not that she meant to, but she did have that quality about her no matter what she was doing.

“What if nobody ever did come forward. What are we going to do?” she went on, again pressing forward with concern not really broached before.

“There’s nothing can be done love really is there.”

She was pushing for something, and even though he knew that what she was seeking could never be the case, or at least thought it would never be, he just needed to keep his wits about him until tomorrow and play the game out however it came to pass.

“I know I’m probably speaking out of turn Mac,” she continued, “but I wouldn’t care if nobody came to find you. I want you to myself.” She sealed the truth of what she said with a kiss to his lips, one of those kisses that shrouded the day from any other thoughts than what was meant by it. It lasted half a minute.

“I can’t imagine that anybody who loves me in this world would not have found me by now,” he said in between her petting, trying to pacify her a little with talk rather than actions, they were out in the open field after all. “So what my past is here I cannot even imagine. All I know is I’m a good person and that what’s happened to me shouldn’t’ve happened to anyone.”

“Perhaps it was fate to bring us together Mac.” Another kiss, and a fumble about his jean’s pocket as if searching for some coin or other, though that was not her intention.

Mac gasped at an intake of air and tried to bring a modicum of civility back to the impromptu sunbathing fiasco. “You could be right there Margaret, yes it could have been fate, stranger things’ve happened.”

“So I hope you’re not angry when I have something to tell ya that you ought to know.”

Before she spoke any more he finally realised what she was about. The strikingly obvious hit home. The knowing not being there had for the most part been put to the back of his mind, forgotten about, out of sight out of mind as the saying went he had not thought for one instance about it either. But it would certainly have been useful with Margaret of late. If only he would have thought, remembered its absence then perhaps he would have guessed. Now all those mornings of sickness and upset stomach, her tiredness but yet the way she looked so well, it could be nothing else. Before he could even whisper the words to her she blurted them out.

“I’m pregnant!”

Mac’s face was all a delight. Taking her by the arm he pulled her even closer. “So that’s why you’ve been off it in the morning,” he began,”We’re having a baby, that’s wonderful Margaret.”

“A new start.”

What to say. He tried a particular route. “Who knows? All that’s happened’s probably been leading to this, yeh I see it now.”

She let out a sigh. “I’m so relieved Mac. I thought it might not be what ya wanted at this time.”

“It’s absolutely everything I want, I couldn’t be more happy,” he insisted.

“I wasn’t quite sure until the last hour, I bought several tests and it’s confirmed. We’re having a baby Mac!”

By now he was returned to laying on the picnic rug staring up at the blue sky, amazement plastered all over his face. He pulled Margaret down on the rug beside him and she adopted a similar horizontal pose. For a few minutes they both lay there, hand holding, no squeezing hand, staring at the blue wonder of the day. One of them was relieved, the other bewildered.

Why had he not realised he chastised himself. It was not as if he did not know all the signs. Why had he relied on his implant for their contraception. He should have also realised that would not be pulse stimulated in this new world either. Under his breath and disguised by a huge grin he cursed himself inwardly at his naivety. And why was Margaret not taking precautions anyway? Too late for that discussion now he told himself. All the time he was thinking his adopted carefree and happy expression never slipped. Squeezing at Margaret’s hand more tightly he turned and gave her a kiss.

“A baby,” he repeated, “well that’s great news love,”

“I know. I didn’t think coming off the pill would mean catchin on so fast.”

Mac held his breath, and refrained from making any comment. For a half minute no words passed between them.

Eostre came a visiting in the guise of a creamy white messenger. Mac saw Her, Margaret did not for the time being. She jumped into view through Her hole in the bottom third of the drystone wall and ceremoniously hopped here and there about the field boundary a couple of yards away from the recently appointed parents.

Margaret finally broke the silence. “Mac. You ok? Have I done something wrong?”

The time had allowed him to reach a conclusion. “Of course not love, as we said, a new begining.”

“I was going to tell you…. to see what ya thought…… coming off the pill an all that.”

What was done was done. No use crying over spilt milk. He smiled at his analogy and put her mind at rest. “It’s wonderful, believe me I’m really so glad. I just worry bout my other life ya know, if I have one. What might turn up.”

Margaret nodded in agreement and rubbed her belly gently. “I know Mac. Let’s cross that bridge if we have to though eh?”

Mac thought a moment. “Yeh, live for the present eh!”

“I do love you Mac I hope you know that.” She said it as if she thought he was unaware if her feelings.

“I do love,” he insisted. “And I love you too, very very much.”

Margaret finally caught sight of the ‘bunny rabbit’ as she named her and squealed quietly with delight at her antics. All through her dance around the grass tufts Eostre kept one wary eye or the other pointed in their direction. Mac knew her significance, Margaret was simply happy to be a part of it all. They watched her for long enough, a leap one way then a scurry the other nibbling at the grass every so often in between.

“I’ll remember you for the rest of my life,” Margaret finally told the rabbit. She turned to Mac to explain. “The day we sealed our future Mac.”

“We’re just as much a part of the schemes of Mother Nature as She,” he replied. “Just go with the flow Margaret there’s nothing to it then.”

Wow! What a surprise he told himself over and over again. What was he going to do now though was the uppermost thought which cried out for entertainment at the moment, what was he going to do, about tomorrow?

A crow’s call from the tall oak tree behind them sent Eostre in search of Her exit from all their company and She disappeared in two hops and a jump. The crow flew down and landed on top of the wall then walked the distance of the toppings as if in search of Her. From the roof of the farmhouse a dove cooed a blissful lament while a small flock of blackbirds argued with each other as they played with some scraps Walt had put out early doors. What was he going to do!

They talked a little more and decided not to tell Walt until a month or so just in case anything went wrong with the pregnancy. Mac was unaware that anything could go wrong, but pretending that pregnancy was not his best subject he agreed with all Margaret had to say on the matter and promised to remain silent until she said the time was right.

So that is how their Sunday passed by, lazing about the fields and out of sight of the reporters. Margaret did see them coming along the lane after a lunchtime picnic she fetched from the kitchen but they had no idea as to the whereabouts of the couple. Hiding away made them both immensely satisfied. To know they were only just the other side of two walls, some distance apart mind but yet the clan knew nothing, pleased them for many a hour.

Towards late afternoon the two of them sneaked away from the farm and had a walk over the higher ground, almost the same route Mac had taken on that fateful day months ago. It reminded him of his destiny. Tomorrow he would find out! What was in store for him? They passed another hour maybe, hand in hand, just walking and talking, happy with each other company, and the day. Mac did have other items to think about however, and when he would finally be able to concentrate and form a plan did irritate him a little. It was of paramount importance now and becoming more so with every hour that was left. He simply had to tell Margaret something about why he may not be around. Or should he leave it just in case there was no magic under the arch at eleven tomorrow morning. He needed the handheld too. Remembering back to the dream of him not having it with him he felt about his back trouser pocket to make sure it was not lost.

Maybe a letter! Would that be in order? Then if he did disappear Margaret could read it and know he would be back, one day anyway. These thoughts and many others competed with Margaret’s conversation on baby care and friends she had who were already mothers. Same topics the world over Mac thought smiling at her enthusiasm. Worlds over actually he corrected himself, worlds over not world. He was after all a part of two now.

“My mum would be so happy” Margaret confessed late afternoon “She loved children.” They were now on the lane back to the farmhouse.

“It’s such a pity she can’t be here to join in,” Mac replied. “But who knows how many grandparents our baby will have in the end. At the moment there’s only one. You’re Dad.”

By four o’clock they were safely returned to the property, forced into a game of sneak around the outhouses to gain access, a fun game of hide from the reporters. Like a couple of children out at play they hid and ran and hid some more in order to find safety without being seen. Making it through the open door they fell about the hallway laughing uproariously knowing they had been successful.

Walt ought to have been caught up in the joviality but he kept a sullen expression. Sat at the black pot stove he reminded Mac of the first time they had met.

Margaret was the first to ask. “What’s up Dad?”

“I’ve found out where them bastards are ‘n when I get to em I’m gonna let em frickin ‘ave it.”

Margaret looked at him sternly, worried with his resolve. “Just let the police sort it Dad,” she insisted.

“Police!” Walt spat venom as he spoke. “Police! They can’t do a frickin thing. Say that it’s ongoing investigation. I’ll be lucky to get even a tenth back. If I were a younger man……”

Mac wondered if that comment was addressed to him but what could he do? Nothing for the time being that was for certain. Maybe if, when, he came back, if he managed to leave in the first place that was, then perhaps he could chase these people down and confront them but for now he was helpless to move. His head was spinning with the uncertainty, the not knowing was really bothering him now and he could not wait until eleven o’clock tomorrow.

“Where are they anyway?” Margaret asked.

“Salisbury.”

“Where’s that then? Mac asked.

“Down south, Wiltshire I think,” Margaret answered. She turned back to her father. “How did ya find that out then?”

“Police called this aft.”

“Well then they’re getting somewhere aren’t they?”

“Not really it’s only a paper trail so far. Address they fon as no one at apparently.”

Mac kept quiet not wanting to become drawn in. There was a danger Walt was going to ask him to help and he knew that was impossible at the moment.

Margaret continued her positive feedback. “Well at least they got an address, now lets eat eh!”

All through dinner, beef curry, Walt kept up with his complaining. Sentence after sentence he grumbled and grumbled, cursing one topic then another. Sadly the swearing was back, but perhaps this time Walt could be excused it. He had cause, that much was true, but Mac really wished the subject could be changed, and with an agreement between the three of them here and there and a resolve every so often it calmed down a little on the understanding that the issue would eventually be sorted out one way or the other. The taste of the meal never had a chance to establish and by the time dinner was finished and the three of them were settled, if that was the correct word, settled, for in truth settlement was a mile away from any description Mac would label the evening, they were sat in the lounge watching the evening news. Walt was gradually reigning in his temper and settling into his well fitting chair.

Suddenly Mac’s eyes became transfixed to the television, like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an approaching vehicle he looked upon the screen, his jaw drooping and mouth open.

Finally he managed to speak. “Central Stones!”

“Stonehenge?” Margaret replied somewhat quizzically.

“Wiltshire,” Walt added very quickly rewinding the programme to bring up the monument again.

Mac regained composure and stuttered a little as he spoke. “Stone henge, yes it’s beautiful there.” The sad truth was though this one was far from it, beautiful. In a state of dilapidation the circle was incomplete with stones missing in places and fallen in others.

“It is aint it,” Margaret agreed. Then she realised, and do did he. “Mac! You recognise it!”

“I do, yes!”

“That’s great, anything else?” she asked.

Mac thought a moment. “I just know I recognise it… and I have been there, it feels like lots of times too. So perhaps that’s where I come from eh?” He had an excuse hatching for his absence of tomorrow.

Walt was not that far behind him. “Ya think tha might hail from there then lad?”

“Perhaps, yeh. I might.”

Walt jumped up from the chair, more animated than of late and made for a drawer in the sideboard. Taking out his wallet he withdrew quite a few pound notes. “That’s settled then,” he said turning to the pair of them. “Mac ought go down and find out for himsen.”

Margaret looked to her father, then her partner to be. Her face wanted to show concern but knowing that was impossible held onto her emotions and gave the strangest of expressions in the process. Her attitude though had to portray one of support so she agreed with her father. “Yeh! I can manage the farm a few days till ya get back.”

Walt was very enthusiastic by now. “As long as it takes lad, as long as it takes,” he went on. Margaret nodded an agreement, she had to really. Walt handed over a wad of notes. “You’ll need this lad.”

Mac withdrew his hand. “I can’t possibly Walt.”

“Yes ya can.” Walt pushed his hand further forward reaching out to make sure Mac took hold this time or drop the notes. Mac, backed up against the occasional table could retreat no further so reluctantly took the money. Now came the hidden agenda. Mac had been expecting it. “You could do a bit of legwork on yon lot too while ya down there Mac. In Salisbury. What d’ya think?” A long lost smile cracked across Walt’s thin bluish pink lips.

It was perfect timing. Mac could not have engineered it better himself. The perfect opportunity and proper excuse to allow time away from them and give a hopeful return without them being any the wiser.

He jumped at the suggestion. “Kill two birds with one stone eh Walt?”

“Perhaps get us both a solution lad.”

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