A couple, hand in hand, laugh a secret shared laugh as I walk out at lunch time. Her tinkling giggle catches my attention as I notice them coming from the train station. Hand in hand and clutching a shopping bag each, it looks like they have spent a wonderful morning somewhere and now have returned home, still buoyed up by their trip. He is a fair bit taller than her and he crooks his head down towards at her smiling raised face. They look so in love, so happy that it makes me smile. I try to guess their ages as I over take them and decide they must be in their late 70s. I can still hear their laughter as I turn away into another street.
A young bespectacled dark haired girl flings her head side to side as she looks for directions. Her smart modern dark blue mini, with its white go-faster stripes, trickles slowly down the road with a tail of annoyed traffic behind her. She drives by and initially I think on her no further. As my walk progresses, she drives passed again. This, her second circuit of the town, is driven a little faster. I smile inwardly and wonder if she has an appointment somewhere and isn't sure where. Again she fades out of my thoughts. Only, by the time I see her for the third time, she is driving flat out with her head still flinging around as she tries to read road signs, not run over pedestrians while trying to miss any on-coming cars.She flies by me, screeching into the local supermarket car park and out of my eyesight - I'll never know what she was searching for.
High on the hills behind the town a trail of hikers are working their way across the sky line. At this distance they are only small dark specks on a winter grey-green hill, almost like very small beads on a very fine thread. I am envious of their freedom while my brief lunch walk is taken through the outskirts of the market town. I lose them as I turn down a quiet street and as I walk along the houses, between each building I can catch glimpses of the hillside. Occasionally I can make out the trail of walkers as they press on. By the time I have reached my furthest point and need to make my way back, the hikers have gone over the col and have disappeared into the dales. That pang of envy hits me again.
On the opposite of the road, in the distance, I can see a wheelchair-bound animated body being powered along by a sturdy woman in thick chunky heels and a wafting cloud of black curly hair. My first impressions are of a frighted person with flailing skinny arms feeling unsafe in the chair. But as we walk closer, the pair turn across the road in front of me and I can now correctly hear the old lady chatting gaily away whilst pointing to landmarks and regaling stories to her chunky heeled driver. She, the sturdy woman with the generous head of hair, seems unaffected and uninterested and continues to surge forward as the stream of chatter just bounces off her. Does the stick thin old lady say the same stories every time? Does her sturdy companion not care or knows them off by heart? Who knows, I turn left as they carry on back towards the pensioner's care centre.
A middle aged man with more than a little middle-age spread doing his damnedest to return to his youthful slender struggles up the slight incline that I am walking along. The air temperature is a cool 3.5 deg c but the sun is shining and the sky is a clear delicate spring blue. I can hear his ragged breath as he peddles his narrow expensive looking road bike alongside me. I am on the pavement briskly walking my lunch break away to clear my head. His rasping breath makes me take a subtle sideways look to see who is in such obvious pain. His red face is stuffed into a shiny new-looking cycle helmet while his gaping jaw is gasping for air. He looks like he is fit to burst. He can barely over take me and as the slight incline flattens out, he just manages to edge forward. I can now see that his cycle gear is also as smart and new looking as his bike, only - he must have bought it for the smaller size he wants to be.... for his black lycra covered backside has stretched the fabric so tautly that is it blatantly obvious that he is wearing no underwear...... I quickly averted my eyes forward and thankfully turned away from his punishing workout and his unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.
I have returned to work. My lungs filled with crisp air, my head a little clearer and my life a little richer for each of these stories that have no beginning and an unknown ending.