Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (07) Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (Part 02)
The outward bound camp was in a place called Sharpinghead at the Eastern end of the Finchbottom Vale that was once a working railway station before it fell afoul of Dr Beeching and his draconian cuts.
The campsite was attached to Maxlin’s Holiday Camp and although the outward bound events were nothing to do with Maxlin’s, all those attending did have day passes to use some of the amenities.
Helen was staying in a converted signal box which for someone of her diminutive stature was very comfortable despite the limited floor space but it had bunk beds which she thought were cool.
She kept herself really busy from the moment she arrived, volunteering for every activity she could fit in thus filling the time she might otherwise have been pining for Martin and praying for the day to come when he would step off the coach.
When the day finally arrived she was so nervous, her insides were alive with butterflies, she couldn’t eat nor could she think straight.
She just kept running the moment when she would see him again through her head over and over.
She wouldn’t look up as the coach pulled up into the car park, she had volunteered to work the breakfast shift in the marquee, as it was right next to where the coaches stopped, so she would be able to watch when the coach arrived on the camping ground.
She had missed him so much while she had been there alone, and she couldn’t wait to see him again.
But she didn’t want him to know just how much she had missed him,
Helen was worried it might scare him off if he knew or worse it might make him conceited or complacent.
The other reason she didn’t look up was that she thought she might cry when she saw him and she didn’t want him to see that either.
Martin caught sight of her and his heart soared, he had no idea she would be in the marquee, but why didn’t she look up?
He had been chewing his fingernails as the coach navigated its way across the Vale he had missed her so much, it actually hurt, and after more than an hour on that bloody coach, stopping at every village and hamlet on the way, so desperate to see her again and she wouldn’t even look up.
“Helen must have heard the coach arrive” he said to himself “everyone else is looking”
He kept looking at her hoping she would look up and smile or wave and then she picked up a tray and went inside the marquee.
“Where is she going now?” he asked himself
He quickly disembarked, at least as quickly as possible considering the coach was packed with day visitors to Maxlin’s, and walked down the steps and went in search of his bag.
Helen almost weakened and looked up but she kept her head down and carried the tray she was holding inside the tent.
She really wanted to see him, she was desperate to see him, she had been looking forward to that day for a month, she wanted to see him so much, she was desperate for just a glimpse, and she hadn’t slept a wink the night before because she was looking forward to that moment so much.
Once inside she dumped the tray on the nearest table and positioned herself by the flaps of the opening so she could see out without him being able to see her.
“Is that him?” she said to herself, “That might be him, no it’s the driver”
“What about the one looking out the window?” she asked herself as she searched among the faces in the crowd.
“He isn’t there, why isn’t he there? Where the hell is he?”
She stood on tiptoe and looked again, not that that helped much it just elevated her from five foot nothing to five foot two.
Her eyes scanned the group milling around the pile of back packs and cases.
“He isn’t there, why isn’t he there?” then the crowd slowly dispersed and there was no sign of Martin.
“Where is that bloody man?” she said aloud
“I’m behind you” Martin said and Helen turned around and launched herself at him and showed him exactly how much she’d missed him and she cried her eyes out too.