Josie's Journey

They both jumped.

‘Anyone important? Do you need to reply to that?’ she asked.

‘No, no. Nothing that can’t wait until later,’ he said. ‘What about you?’

‘I don’t know. Am I supposed to reply and thank the local ‘phone network provider for welcoming me to the country?’

The moment dissolved into laughter.

She hoped he didn’t suspect anything.

They were smiling at each other, pretending that nothing was wrong, but she could feel the mood of suspicion tightening its grip.

This was meant to be a happy place - somewhere where she could retreat to, where she could be herself, where they all could be themselves. She longed for those wonderful, carefree halcyon days when she was innocent, when they all were.

‘What’s shifted?’ she wondered. Deep down, she knew it was she who had changed but he had too. Had she left it too late to come back? She had tortured herself with these thoughts, had contemplated coming back earlier, but had been worried that it would be too early, that she wouldn’t have had enough time to get everything in order. Greg, her best friend back home had warned her that this might happen.

‘I don’t think you should go’, he’d warned her. ‘You’re not ready yet and I won’t be there to pick up the pieces this time.’ He had begged her to reconsider. He was dreadfully jealous of her life before him, he tried to keep her from going back to it, but this time the pull was too strong and she couldn’t delay any longer.

‘Is everything OK Xavi?’ she asked. ‘You seem agitated.’

‘Look Josie, I don’t want you to worry or for you to get caught up in the mess that’s going on in the village, but you’ll probably hear some rumours. It’s best you keep out of it, you’re only here for a while, you don’t want to get involved, believe me.’

‘Why does everyone keep trying to keep me outside? Thinking they’re protecting me? You all think you can control me, well you can’t! I’m perfectly in control and it’s all of you who need to be careful!’

‘My God! Where did that outburst come from? What are you talking about Josie?’

‘I’m just trying to make sense of everything, maybe I’m tired and I’ve had a bit too much to drink. Ignore me. Let’s go and meet the others.’ Her voice was strained.

Greg had warned her about her unruly emotion. She would have to be careful. She’d promised herself she wouldn’t get emotional, wouldn’t give the game away and let Xavi guess the real reason for her visit.

She looked down at her hands, they were shaking.

How was she going to get that newspaper back?

She laughed, an awkward, embarrassed laugh.

 

Julie Noble

 

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