John and Mary used to love travelling. For their honeymoon, when John was 21 and Mary 19, they took a trip to Europe, visiting France and Italy. When their children were young they took them on camping trips to Brittany, Cornwall and the Lake District. When John first retired they took coach trips, travelling to the Norwegian Fjords, Northern Germany and even St. Petersburg.
It seemed natural then, to their children, now adults looking forward to retirement themselves, to treat John and Mary to a weekend away for their golden wedding anniversary. The whole trip was organised for them â€“ the first class seats on the plane, a taxi from the airport, the suite in the four star hotel, and a champagne dinner in the hotel on the Saturday evening. It all sounded wonderful.
The trouble was, that John and Mary werenâ€™t as young as they used to be, and hadnâ€™t travelled for several years. It had been so difficult at the airport. Everyone seemed to be in such a rush, and nobody seemed able to show them where they were supposed to go. At the security check they had had to take their shoes off. Everyone behind them was in such a hurry, and Mary went as fast as she could, but her hands didnâ€™t work as well as they used to, and there was no seat for her to sit on while she took them off. John tried to help but his back was bad and it was just as difficult for him.
The stewardess on the aeroplane had been lovely, and had made sure they were both settled into their seats with everything they needed. Sheâ€™d even put their bags up into the space above the seats for them, to save John having to stretch. The flight was so noisy though, and Mary could feel her feet swelling so. She hoped she wouldnâ€™t have to take her shoes off again when they landed.
The baggage hall was terrifying. John waited for their small black suitcase to arrive while Mary sat patiently on the chairs to one side. The suitcase went around the carousel twice before John was able to get through the crowd of people and retrieve it.
The hotel was much fancier than anywhere theyâ€™d stayed before, but they were both too exhausted from the journey there to enjoy it. Mary unpacked the few clothes they had brought with them and made them each a cup of tea, and then they both sat in front of the television for the evening, too tired to venture out.
Armed with the guide book they had been given, and a map from the hotel, John and Mary set out early the next day, determined to see a few sights so that they could report back to their children that they had had a wonderful time. The city was bustling in the early morning, full of people pushing their way past trying to get to work, or to the shops, or wherever else it was that they needed to be in such a rush. The streets seemed to blend in to one another, and the signs seemed to lead them on a wild goose chase, round and round in circles.
John could see that Mary was tiring, and felt the need to protect her, to take her away from all the people and the noise and bustle, to take her back to the hotel where they could sit and have a nice cup of tea in peace. The hotel had postcards, and they could venture out again later to find some souvenirs to take back to their grandchildren. First they had to find out where they were, and how to get back to the hotel.
Inspired by Directions taken by Pablo Gavilan from Flickr.
Written for Flickr Fiction Friday. You can usually find Flickr Fiction by:Elimare, Donal, Tadamack, Aquafortis, HeavySigh, and Chris.
Late this week, sorry. Also a bit rushed again, but this time because I found the whole story too sad to face getting into in too much detail.