The Whisperer

Now a couple, both Paul and Anna had to split their time between each other, and between their existing commitments.

Anna did not go out much, plus she had to study to become fully qualified, so her main “existing commitments” were visits to the gym. It had recently introduced a smartcard system, and she found it helpful to be able to go there now at any time, day or night.

Paul’s “existing commitments” were straightforward, too. Jake. Everything else was quite fluid, for the most part, work stayed in the office. There were occasional flurries, but…. once or twice per year. He’d been in that role for seven years now, so could handle it well.

He had Jake stay over about every other weekend, and saw him in between, when he could. He was lucky, in a way, that he and Beth had just become tired of each other, and there was no acrimony there. Each knew that the other could be relied upon when it came to childcare

Early in the new relationship, Paul had tried to combine his two main interests. One bright, crisp autumn Saturday, he had taken Jake to play five-a-side in the morning, and they had then arranged to meet Anna in the afternoon. If nothing else, he would tire Jake out for a quiet Sunday with grandma!

Anna had offered to come into London to meet them, but there would be far too many other people at Baker Street.  They had settled on Hampstead instead, it would be quiet enough that there was no chance of missing each other, plus it was easier for Anna to get to. The plan was for a brisk walk up on the heath, followed by some well-deserved hot chocolate back by the tube.

They had been walking for about twenty minutes when they saw him. Standing by a fork in the path, next to a park bench, was a small man. At they approached him, they could see that he must have been in his seventies. He wore a long brown raincoat – a flasher’s mac! – and a flat cap, but also some pristine white sneakers. He was standing still, almost as a scarecrow.

Closer still, they could see that this man had some things on his upturned arms, and as they got near to him, they could see that the “things” were birds. Sparrows. From a handful of small seeds, this chap was feeding them, they just flew to his hand, was it… eight birds?

“What a strange guy that was”, recalled Anna later, as she delicately placed the marshmallow into her mouth.

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 22 August 2020, character.

I’ve written a background to these characters, in the posts below.

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