Chapter 1, part 4

Eventually he arrived at the counter and handed across the forms and after the counter clerk ascertained that everything was in order, Edward signed and proffered the cheque that paid for 12 months more road tax. He turned to leave and walked straight into the woman, dropping his documents and new car tax on the floor and knocking her shopping selection from her hands.

“Oh, I’m so sorry” he said as he stooped to pick up her items, and then fell back flat onto his backside as their heads collided - she had bent down at the same time. As they sat there bemused and a little stunned, a Guide dog carefully picked its way past them, leading its owner safely to the post office counter, leaving a perfect damp paw mark in the centre of the newly dispensed car tax disk as it went by.

“Stalking is one thing, but this amounts to assault” the auburn haired woman laughed as she looked around for her shopping, rubbing her head where it felt as if an egg was forming at the site of impact.

“Stalking what do you mean stalking?”

“Well there you were at the garage a few weeks ago, and so was I. You were in Smiths in town, and so was I. Here last week, later on the same day in the supermarket, and back here again today. Coincidence, I don’t think so.”

He realised that their paths must have encountered each other many more times than he had thought, and to his chagrin it was only recently that he had noticed this striking and beautiful woman. For a man trained to be observant, here was proof absolute that he was being anything but. Looking and not seeing were things that he could absolutely not afford to do – lives had often depended on his depth of vision with little input. Observation was ingrained into his way of life, a natural ability that had been honed by the best training and guidance that a Government could provide. Recently it seemed he had been walking through life outside the office with his eyes firmly closed. And that was dangerous.

“Oh my dear lady I must apologise, not for the stalking for I can honestly plead ‘Not Guilty’ to that charge and can only plead diminished responsibility, but I do plead ‘Guilty’ to being an unobservant fool who failed to notice the most beautiful of women until recently.”

“Idiot,” she laughed as she stood, and for seemingly no reason she stumbled a little as she straightened. He held her elbow to help steady her as he too raised himself to his feet. “You’ve been following me for ages, and as for ‘not a stalker’, your eyes were almost on stalks as you followed me around the shop today. I’m not stupid or blind you know?”

She went bright red with embarrassment at the last remark as the owner of the guide dog turned, smiled and said, “If the owner of that comment is as beautiful as her voice, then this blind man forgives her indelicacy”

“Oh Golly, I am so sorry,” she managed to say

“And be assured sir, she is far more beautiful than her voice which in itself is, as you can hear, an aural masterpiece” was Edwards contribution to her mortification.

“Oh Golly, Golly” was all she could muster in response. She stood with a face beet red and a heart beating so loud she imagined that it must be deafening all who stood by her. She gathered her courage and faced her admirers. The man with the Guide Dog was leaving and had a huge smile across his face, and bizarrely seemed to look straight at her as he gave her a huge wink. “Oh Golly”

Edward surprised himself and seized the moment. “My name is Edward. I seem to have flustered you a little; I’ve sent you flying by my clumsiness. Let me try to make amends. There is a coffee shop down the road by the Abbey, let me buy you a bun and a coffee and we can introduce ourselves properly.”

“Oh, Golly”

“Is that a yes golly or a no golly? I am not sure that I have sussed the difference.”

“It’s a yes golly. My name is Geraldine by the way. Look, let me get my bits paid for and I’ll see you outside. I’ll follow you up to the car park by the Abbey and then, yes, we can go and have coffee.”