Peter Simon is a British social support worker. He has
published many short stories and some health-based articles. He
is currently working on a novel.
New Title(s) from Peter Simon
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|A woman returns to the village of her youth,
finding it much changed. There she encounters excitement, wonder
and danger. Finally, she meets her former husband—but in vastly
different circumstances from how she had last seen him.
Word Count: 3369
Pages to Print: 16
File Format: PDF
When Edith first stirred from her sleep, great frowning shadows
stretched across the land. Huge lakes of unbroken darkness
eclipsed her whole world.
Soon, though, she became aware of the faintest light; rays from
the outside world were filtering in opaque waves through the
blackness, growing brighter and fuller, and bringing her at last
to full waking.
Edith looked out on the world. A glint of golden fire burned on
a vast blue horizon, and the shadows were retreating.
It had been a long, long sleep and she felt wonderfully
Light had returned to the land at last. The scent of spring
filled the air; a fresh thrill of dewy grass, and the rich
sweetness of blossom.
She laughed. It hardly seemed a moment since the autumn!
Now as her senses sharpened, she could see the blossom flying
through the air, flaming up a perfect white in the sun. A few
stray pieces wafted past her, tumbling and dancing in the
breeze. She wanted to catch some, to feel the moist silkiness
against her fingers, but of course she could not. Instead, she
just blew, and laughed as the petals whirled and buffeted.
Edith rested for a few moments, gathering her strength. It was
an excellent day. The sun was full and bright, and the grass of
the hilltop sparkled with millions of tiny watery jewels.
She hadn’t been out for a while. In the grey seasons, she
withdrew from the world; but now she was ready to roam again.
She had missed her travelling, and the heart-warming beauty of
this spring day brought her a sudden wild joy.
And there, down in the valley, the village lay like a huge
luscious garden, partly shrouded by a blanket of shining mist:
silent, surreal, a vision.
Yet as the mist slowly began to clear, the little place seemed
to solidify into reality. She could see the church steeple and
its golden weather vane, the meandering rows of cottages, the
plowed farmlands and the fields alive with yellow-golden crops.
The village no longer seemed like a dream; it was a true, living
Once, that place had been her home.
Then a sudden wonderful thought occurred to her. She might see
Bill down in the village. She wouldn’t intrude on him, of
course, but she might come across him by chance.
That decided it. Edith dressed quickly, and began the long walk
into the valley. She could have easily found quicker ways of
getting there, but a walk would be lovely.
Her quickening senses detected a little sharpness in the air;
the ghost of winter still lingered. Raw icy days had gouged out
jagged potholes in the road. Just as well she wasn’t cycling.
Mind you, today’s bikes would probably be more reliable—not like
the rusty bone-shaker she used to ride.
Cirrus clouds lay in serene strands over the valley, glowing
whitely in the morning light. Wisps of mists crept silently
around the cherry trees, and a sudden breeze picked up the
fallen blossom, scattering it across Edith’s path.
The village was nestled in the mist like a timeless bubble, yet
there were changes in the landscape.
Farther off lay the foul smoky stain of the city, with its sea
of ugly concrete and glassy weather-beaten skyscrapers. The sun
seemed powerless to illuminate those grimy wastes, and a hazy
brown line of pollution snaked along the horizon.
The city was bigger than she remembered, and its swollen blot
had obliterated far more of the countryside. There had always so
much corruption in those places! Probably it was even worse now.
She hoped, at least, that her beautiful village hadn’t been
touched by it.
A huge road circled the metropolis, its brazen line scarring the
fields. A million tiny cars flickered and gleamed in the
sunlight, an insane metal caterpillar. Cars, cars, cars without
end! What had happened to the railways, the buses, the trams?
Edith turned her gaze away from the city, and back towards the
Deep in the trees, she could hear the soft woody cooing of
pigeons, and the bright warble of sparrows; and from somewhere
down in the village, there was a little distant
laughter—children’s laughter. Her spirit leapt. Maybe the place
hadn’t changed too much.
Walking seemed to be unpopular these days. The old road was
unused now, and crumbling. Baked, frozen and blighted for season
after season, weeds were pushing up through its tarmac. The
unthinking crawl of time, patient and inexorable, would finally
grind everything to dust. Time always won.
In some places, the road had been worn away to crazy paving. It
would have been rough to have cycled down there. She might even
have fallen off. That wouldn’t have been disastrous, but it
would certainly have been unpleasant.
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