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One Perfect Day
Published Apr 23, 2011


Written By

MsBarrows

Storyteller
26075Views4.5Rating

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This is a self-contained side story to my current forum story on TSR, This Imperfect World. You don't need to have read the forum story for this one to make sense, but if you enjoy this, why not go ahead and enjoy both...

John frowned as he read the passing sign. Pentland... now why did that sound familiar? Perhaps he'd been here before, though nothing looked particularly familiar to him. Of course, after a life spent criss-crossing the entire country repeatedly, almost every place name seemed at least vaguely familiar. Of course, he'd been retired from that for a few years now, but with no reason not to, and the habit of a lifetime behind him, he still followed his wandering feet where ever the mood took him. And today, it was taking him up into the mountains, along a winding old highway whose cracked and rippled surface spoke of long neglect. The stark mountaintops, long stripped of most of the tall pines that must have once clad them, spoke of the reasons why; the economic tide had already washed through and receded from this area, leaving behind dying towns with no real reason left for the existence of many of them.

Seeing the second sign, one that indicated he could get gas and food at Pentland, he glanced at his dashboard. Gas was maybe a little low; it wouldn't hurt to stop. Besides, it was a long time since breakfast, and he could use at least a cup of coffee, and maybe even a bite to eat, if they had something that wouldn't disagree with his increasingly fussy stomach.

This is a self-contained side story to my current forum story on TSR, This Imperfect World. You don't need to have read the forum story for this one to make sense, but if you enjoy this, why not go ahead and enjoy both...

John frowned as he read the passing sign. Pentland... now why did that sound familiar? Perhaps he'd been here before, though nothing looked particularly familiar to him. Of course, after a life spent criss-crossing the entire country repeatedly, almost every place name seemed at least vaguely familiar. Of course, he'd been retired from that for a few years now, but with no reason not to, and the habit of a lifetime behind him, he still followed his wandering feet where ever the mood took him. And today, it was taking him up into the mountains, along a winding old highway whose cracked and rippled surface spoke of long neglect. The stark mountaintops, long stripped of most of the tall pines that must have once clad them, spoke of the reasons why; the economic tide had already washed through and receded from this area, leaving behind dying towns with no real reason left for the existence of many of them.

Seeing the second sign, one that indicated he could get gas and food at Pentland, he glanced at his dashboard. Gas was maybe a little low; it wouldn't hurt to stop. Besides, it was a long time since breakfast, and he could use at least a cup of coffee, and maybe even a bite to eat, if they had something that wouldn't disagree with his increasingly fussy stomach.
The small town he reached a few minutes after turning off the highway was not exactly oversupplied with parking spaces, but he soon found a spot, within sight of a corner coffee shop - they almost always seemed to be on corners, he'd noticed - and a little convenience store. He parked, carefully setting the handbrake and locking the doors, a long time habit that he wasn't about to break now, and crossed the street. He went into the convenience store first, browsing the shelves, picking out a few snacks for the road, and a magazine to enjoy later. The young boy behind the counter was as firey a redhead as he himself had once been, though his own hair had long since changed to ashy grey.

"Could you tell me where I can find the gas station?" he asked as he paid for his purchases. "There was a sign at the highway that indicated there should be one here, but I didn't see anything on the drive in...?"

"Oh, sorry sir, that closed down a while ago - it's been torn down, and the tanks dug up and everything," the young boy answered. "But if you go back to the highway, and follow it down to the lake, there's a gas station by the marina where you can get a fill-up."

"Ahhh. Thank you, son," he said, nodding his head in gratitude.

"No problem, sir - have a good day," the boy answered, and turned to the next customer as John walked away.
He paused a moment outside the store, glancing curiously around. Nothing about the town looked in the least familiar; perhaps he'd been mistaken about the name ringing a bell. "You're getting senile," he muttered to himself, then turned and went into the coffee shop.

"Small coffee, one cream, two sugars please," he asked the young man behind the counter. His doctor would give him hell for having cream and sugar in his coffee, if he knew about it, but he couldn't abide black coffee, and loathed artificial sweeteners. Besides, he'd already lived a long, full life; if having coffee the way he liked it was going to kill him, it had waited an awfully long time to make its move.
Accepting the cup from the barista - such a fancy word for such a low level job! - he carefully carried it to an unoccupied table and sat down, smiling as he took his first long sip. He looked around the shop curiously as he drank, looking at the old posters on the walls, the faded wallpaper, and the small display of pamphlets and brochures on the counter.

A name on one brochure caught his eyes. "Starry Sky Motel," he muttered to himself, and smiled. Of course. He'd been right - he had been here before. That had been a long time ago... more then twenty years ago.
John glanced at the sign for the Pentland turnoff, then looked at the sheet of driving directions taped to the dash. He was getting close; another five or ten minutes of driving should get him to the motel. He shook his head at the parsimonious nature of his boss, always booking him into the cheapest, most out-of-the-way hotels and motels. He sometimes wondered if the difference in room rate between, say, this motel stuck in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, and a hotel in the city he'd been doing business in earlier today, was really enough to justify the extra time and gas.

Ah well, at least it was a scenic place to spend the night, he thought, admiring the stands of tall pines lining the road. Though possibly not scenic for much longer, judging by the scarred nakedness of the mountain slopes rising behind the remaining trees, evidence of heavy clear-cutting in the area.

Spotting a small tourist lookout by the road, he abruptly made the decision to pull over early and enjoy a breath of fresh air before continuing further down the highway to where the motel was located. He parked, and sat for a minute, just staring out the windshield and listening to the pinging sounds of the cooling engine. Finally he got out, grabbing a paper bag off of the seat beside him that contained the remains of his lunch from earlier in the day.

He took a seat at one of the small picnic tables at one corner of the lookout, and took a foil-wrapped hot dog out of the bag, happily settling down to enjoy it. He's just taken his first bite when he heard approaching voices, and looked around.
He saw a couple of women coming down a trail that wound down the hillside on the other side of the highway. They were both pretty blondes, wearing similar sweater sets and pencil skirts, one in blue and one in yellow. Reaching the bottom of the trail, they looked both ways, and hurried across the highway towards the lookout area.

Realizing as they turned to follow the wall around it that they would pass within just a few feet of him, John quickly rose to his feet. "Good afternoon, ladies," he said politely, smiling welcomingly at them.
The blond in the yellow outfit gave him a startled look - apparently she'd failed to notice him sitting there - while the one in blue gave him a pleasant smile. "Good afternoon," she responded, coming to a stop. The other woman, following behind, had no choice but to stop as well.

"Pleasant day," he observed.

"Yes, very," she agreed.

"Err... could you tell me, is it far from here to the, ah, Starry Sky Motel?" he asked, knowing full well he had only a short drive remaining, but wanting to keep the two lovely ladies talking to him for at least a little longer.

"It's just at the foot of this hill, actually," she told him. "If it wasn't for the trees in the way, you'd be able to see if clearly if you went and looked downhill," she explained, nodding towards to the hillside down-slope of the lookout.

"Oh. Well, thank you very much," he said.
"You're welcome," she said, smiling warmly at him. Her friend - at least, he assumed the pair must be friends - gave her a not entirely subtle poke in the ribs. "And we'd best be on our way - I hope you enjoy your stay in the area," she added, then at a second prod from her friend, nodded in farewell and led the way along the wall and down a set of stairs at the end of the wall that he hadn't noticed earlier, the wall having blocked his view of them. Curious, he walked over and glanced over the edge of the lookout. He could see the two women walking down a steep trail, carefully picking their way down rough stone stairways that joined up sections of gravelled trail, obviously a continuation of the trail on the other side of the highway that they'd first appeared upon.

Their high-heeled shoes and neat sweater sets were hardly appropriate wear for a countryside ramble, so he assumed the trail must not be terribly long. As he watched, the blond in blue paused and looked back uphill at her friend; he was sure she noticed him watching them. A moment later the friend caught up with her, and they continued down the trail, the woman in blue leaning over and apparently saying something to the other as they walked out of sight among the trees. He heard their laughter faintly through the intervening trees, and wasn't sure whether to hope, or to dread, that it was their encounter with him that they were laughing about.
After finishing the last few bites of his hot dog, and clearing away his trash, John continued down the highway to the nearby motel.

"Anything worth seeing or doing in this area?" he asked the clerk as he checked in.

"Well, there's our signature landmark, the satellite crash site just to your right outside as you exit the lobby," the clerk said. "Free to view, and we sell some rather nice small-scale souvenir replicas of it..."

"Hmmm, not quite what I'm thinking of," John said politely. "Anything else?"

"Well, you can rent a boat at the marina across the road if you'd like to go boating or fishing, there's swimming in our fine heated pool, or in the lake at the public beach down the street, and there's a social club up in town where you play pool, darts, or bowling."

"Sounds like my boss has done his usual fine job of booking me into a hot night spot," John muttered to himself.

"Pardon?"

"Oh, sorry, just talking to myself. A bad habit caused by being my only company too much of the time," he explained with an amused grin.

"Oh," the clerk said blankly, clearly not quite understanding.

"Well, failing a disco opening up somewhere in the area in the next few hours, I suppose my only concern tonight will be locating dinner. What sort of dining can I find in the area?"

"Well, there's a particularly fine restaurant up in town - there's a brochure with sample menu in that rack just to your right - and a burger joint across from the public beach. And then, of course, there's our own in-house restaurant, unless you'd prefer to do your own cooking in your room, which includes a fully equipped kitchen..."

John laughed. "Given the state of my cooking skills, I suspect your in-house restaurant will be the smarter choice. Well, thank you for your help," he said, picking up his room key and turning away.

"No problem. Enjoy your stay, sir!"
The room was about like he'd expected; small, dingy, and smelling faintly of industrial cleansers and previous occupants. It did, as advertised, include a complete kitchen; complete, that is, as long as you didn't include foodstuffs in your list of what a complete kitchen should contain. Or anything more then one dented pot, one slightly greasy frying pan, one bent spatula, one serving spoon in surprisingly good condition (surprising, compared to the other contents of the kitchen), and two place settings of badly scratched garishly-coloured melamine with cheap aluminum flatware. His inventory of the kitchen cabinets complete, he retrieved his single small suitcase from the car, hanging up his suit jacket on the coat tree in the hallway and inserting the entire suitcase, top opened and folded back underneath the body of it, into the dresser door. The one big advantage of soft-sided luggage; not needing to unpack it in order to move into a place. After checking the television - three channels, none currently showing anything he felt like watching - and peering out his back door at the small enclosed private patio and hot tub, he went out of his room and stood looking around at the surrounding area.

To the left he could see the masts of several small sailboats beyond a stand of trees; that must be the marina the clerk had mentioned. Across the street from the motel was what was obviously a small campground, brightly-coloured tents tucked away among the trees, and in the distance off to his right he could make out a couple of small buildings to either side of the road. Judging by the sounds and scents the breeze was wafting from that direction, that must be the burger place and the public beach.
Seeing nothing better to do, John abruptly returned to his room and changed into his swim trunks. It was rare for him to have access to a real lake, instead of yet another heavily chlorinated pool, and he might as well take advantage of the opportunity and go swimming. Lord only knew how long it would be before such an opportunity presented itself again! The beach area was accessed by a rustic log staircase that led down a small rocky cliff to the sandy portion of the beach. He was pleasantly surprised to spot two familiar figures as he descended to the beach, the two women from earlier, now dressed in swimsuits and stretched out on towels in the sun. He averted his eyes as he walked past, part of him wanting to give their oiled forms a better look, and part of him knowing it would be rude to stare. He waded out into the lake. The shallows near shore were pleasantly warm from the sun, but the deeper water was noticeably cooler, and the one short underwater dive he attempted revealed a bitterly cold layer only a few feet beneath the warmer surface waters. The lake must be deeper then it looked, or perhaps it was spring-fed or caught run-off from glaciers further up in the mountains. Whatever the case, he quickly decided to limit his swim to the warmer surface waters, and merely swam back and forth parallel to the beach for a while, until he felt pleasantly tired from the exertion. Returning to the beach, he stretched out in a hammock, letting the sun bake some warmth back into his chilled body. After a while, he dozed off. It couldn't have been all that long a nap before the sound of nearby voices re-awoke him. Looking around, he saw that the two women had ended their sunbathing, and were now engaged in attempting to build a sandcastle. Their efforts weren't going very well; they'd started too close to the water's edge, and hadn't dampened the sand they were using to build it, so it was slumping down again as fast as they piled it up, as well as being washed away by wavelets on the lake-facing side.

Rising to his feet, he strolled over. "Could you ladies use some help with that?" he asked hopefully.

The two looked up. The thinner blond, the one who'd been in the yellow outfit earlier, gave him a guarded look, but the other gave him a cheerful smile.

"Hello again!" she said. "No, I think we're about ready to give up on this attempt. I've never been particularly good at making these."

"That's too bad - I was quite good at them when I was younger, though it's been many years now since I last had the time to build one."

As he looked over the curvaceous blond, he realized that she was giving him an equally interested look. He glanced at her ring finger, and was mildly surprised to note that she was neither engaged nor wed.

"Diane, I really should be getting home," the other woman abruptly said, ignoring John's presence.
"Will you excuse me a moment?" the woman addressed as Diane asked him, and walked off to the side with her friend. John stood looking out at the lake and the mountains surrounding. He wasn't trying to overhear what the women said, but as they hadn't gone all that far away, he found he could hear them quite clearly.

"Madeline, we've only been here for, what, an hour, maybe two? You shouldn't need to go home already," Diane told her friend.

"I'm sorry, it's just... I don't like leaving Frederick on his own like this."

"He's not on his own, Maddy my dear, he has a perfectly adequate babysitter looking after him so I could treat you to an afternoon out..."

"I know, and honestly, I'm grateful for the thought, but I'd really rather just be at home with him," Madeline said, her voice catching as she suppressed tears.

Diane gave her a look, then sighed. "I guess you're not ready yet."

"No, I'm not. I'm sorry Diane... I just want to go home," she said sadly.
Diane smiled reassuringly at her friend. "It's all right, you go on home and make sure that little Freddie is being properly looked after," she said, and hugged her friend comfortingly, then glanced over her shoulder to where the handsome stranger stood looking out at the lake. "I, um... I think I'm going to stick around a bit longer." Madeline smiled, a glint of good humour momentarily coming to her eye. "Good luck," she whispered, then turned and walked away. Diane watched her leave, then walked back over to talk some more with the stranger. "I hope I didn't drive your friend away," John said worriedly when Diane rejoined him.

"Oh, no, it's just... well, her husband died less then a year ago, and she's got a little baby at home to look after. I was hoping to give her a pleasant day out, but..." she shrugged. "I guess she's still not ready to start enjoying life again."

"Oh. Well, I'm sorry to hear that. I suppose I should introduce myself," he added, holding out his hand. "John Billings. I'm a travelling salesman."

She smiled warmly at him, and shook his hand. "Diane Royce. I'm a beautician."
"Oh, really? That certainly explains how beautifully turned out you are," he said, looking admiringly at her carefully styled hair and well-applied makeup.

"Oh, get on with you, you're going to make me blush!" she exclaimed, not quite coyly, but certainly in a way that invited further attention.
John was quite pleased to provide further compliments; it had been a long time since he'd last had an opportunity to interact socially with someone of the interesting sex, confined as he usually was to brief interactions with office ladies, waitresses, and hotel staff.

Diane, for her part, seemed to quite enjoy his attention and flattery, and the pair hit it off quite well.
"I swear I used to be good at these," John exclaimed, laughing as his and Diane's attempt at a sand castle slumped down in a crumbling heap.

"Well, you're doing at least somewhat better then I ever have, so I'll take your word for it, even if this construction looks more like a burial mound then a castle," Diane said.

John laughed as he rose to his feet. "I suppose I've lost the knack for them," he said ruefully, then glanced at the darkening sky. Somehow the entire afternoon had managed to pass without him noticing.

"Come on, let's light a bonfire," Diane said, and led him down the beach to a fire pit. John got the fire going, and the two sat down companionably beside it.
"I've really enjoyed spending this time with you," John told Diane. "As much time as I spend on the road, chances to just enjoy a nice day with an interesting person are sadly rare."

Diane nodded. "I can imagine. Staying in one spot isn't necessarily much better though," she added pensively.

"You can't make me believe that you haven't had men interested in you before this," John said.

Diane laughed, then smiled at him. "A few. It's just... never quite managed to work out. What about you? Are you the type of salesman that fits the cliche of having a girl in every city, or...?"

John laughed. "No, not me. When I first started out... well, I had a girl, but she decided she wasn't interested in someone who wasn't around at least nine days out of ten. By the time I'd taken my third sales trip, well, no more girl."
"And no new girls since?" she asked archly.

"Well... a few," he admitted. "But it's like you said... it's never quite managed to work out. With all the travelling I do, it's not like I've an abundance of time to spend meeting and wooing women," he said ruefully. "Hells, these days I don't even have a home to call my own; didn't see any point in renting an apartment or anything when I'm always on the road. I live in motels and hotels 365 days of the year. 366 on leap years," he added, grinning.

Diane laughed. "That sounds like a lonely life," she said quietly.

"It is, sometimes," he admitted, then looked at Diane. "We're getting too serious. Let's talk about something less... complex."

"Like what?" she asked, giving him an expectant look.
He smiled, enjoying the way the firelight highlighted her features. Gods she was beautiful... he rose to his feet, and offered her a hand to help her up as well.

"Well," he said, mouth suddenly dry with apprehension. "I was thinking, since it sounds like neither of us has anyone to go home to at the moment... perhaps you would do me the honour of joining me for dinner tonight?"

Diane smiled warmly at him. "I think I'd like that," she said. "You intrigue me, Mr Billings."

"Good. Because you fascinate me, Miss Royce," he said, daring to reach out and lightly touch his fingers to her warm skin.

Diane laughed, and put her own hand on his shoulder, giving him an appraising look. "We'll have to return to that subject later," she said gravely. "For now, I guess I'd better gather up my things and go change. I'll meet you in front of the motel restaurant - you are staying at the motel?" she asked, raising one eyebrow enquiringly.

"Yes," he confirmed. "All right, I'll see you there then."
He hurried back to the motel, and changed back into his clothes, regretting that he didn't have anything more casual packed. He decided to continue without the suit jacket; after a long, hot day in meetings and a long car drive, it was just slightly more fragrant then would be pleasant. He made a mental note that he'd have to find time to have things laundered at his next weekend stop.

Emerging from his room, he was pleased to see Diane just crossing the parking lot to the restaurant entrance, clad once more in the blue sweater set.

"Good timing," she called, smiling welcomingly at him as he walked over to join her.

"You look exquisite," he told her, taking her by the hand and looking her over.

She raised one eyebrow, and looked him over in turn. "You're not half-bad yourself," she said. "Come on, let's dine."

"Lets," he agreed, offering her his arm and then escorting her into the motel restaurant.
They had the place to themselves, apart from the wait staff; the motel was not exactly a hive of activity, unsurprisingly. John had to remind himself not to talk too much in his pleasure at having company for dinner; he didn't want to come across as trying too hard or anything. Thankfully Diane didn't seem to be off-put by his nervous excitement, and her calm manner calmed him in turn, the two soon returning to the easy conversation they'd been engaged in down at the beach, enjoying the company and the meal.

The food was actually surprisingly good for such a small, out of the way place; the motel staff must still care about making good food, not just serving up whatever could be most cheaply made and still be called edible. Having all too much experience of the other kind of eatery, John was relieved, especially since he'd have hated to have invited Diane for an unpleasant meal.
It was by far the most pleasant meal John could recall having in years - far too many years. Diane proved an entertaining table companion, full of amusing anecdotes about life in a small town, and her customers at the beauty salon she owned and ran. John responded with tales of life on the road, his more hair-raising adventures on narrow snow-covered mountain roads and storm-swept plains, how at heart he enjoyed his travelling lifestyle, even if it did make him a man of few ties and no fixed address. At the end of the meal, John had the waiter bring them a couple of flutes of a decent white wine. He'd have ordered champagne if he could trust such a small, out of the way place to have anything worth uncorking; a reasonably drinkable white wine would have to do in its place.

"To chance-met friends," he toasted.

Diane smiled, and raised her glass in turn. "To unexpected friendship."
John smiled warmly at Diane. He really didn't want this day to end; as poorly as it had started, with long meetings and no sales, the remainder of it once he'd reached the Pentland area had become surprisingly pleasant.

"You're staring at me," Diane said after a while. "Do I have something stuck in my teeth or something dreadful like that?"

John laughed softly. "No, nothing like that," he admitted. "I was just thinking that meeting you today has made this the closest thing to a perfect day that I've had in a long, long time."
"A perfect day?"

"Yes... you know, one of those all too rare days where everything just happens to go just right. You wake up before the alarm clock has a chance to ring. Your coffee is the best cup of it you've ever had, and your eggs just the way you like them. The sun is shining, and a breeze is blowing, so it's warm but not hot, and everything - everything - just seems to go your way, all day long. That kind of day, that's a perfect day."

"That sounds heavenly. And impossible. Have you ever really had one?"

"Oh, one or two. Not in a very long time though; there's always something wrong. A flat tire, a sudden hailstorm, a wrong turn..."

"What made today less then perfect for you?" she asked curiously.

John grimaced. "Long meetings in hot, crowded boardrooms, and no sales at the end of it all."

Diane looked thoughtful, then smiled. "I guess I can think of one or two days in my past that were perfect, or at least close enough to it," she suddenly admitted. "I like the idea of it. Everyone should get at least one perfect day."

John raised his glass, which still had a mouthful of wine left in the bottom. "To one perfect day," he suggested.

Diane smiled, and raised her glass as well. "To one perfect day," she agreed, and the two emptied their glasses.
John paid their bill, and the two went out to the parking lot. It was late. Time, undoubtedly, for Diane to return home. And then tomorrow he'd be leaving town, so they'd likely never meet again...

"Diane, would you... like to come back to my room with me?" he abruptly asked.

She turned and looked at him, searchingly, then slowly smiled. "Carpe diem?"

He smiled, relieved at her apparent understanding of his sudden motivation. "Yes."

She tilted her head to the side, consideringly, then her smile widened. "Yes," she said. "Let's."
It seemed almost dreamlike after that - leading her into his motel room, the two of them undressing in silence. Her hair, released, cascaded down over one shoulder in a shining blond fall of silken light. He felt his breath catching in his throat at her unselfconscious beauty. How long had it been, anyway, since he'd last shared his bed with a woman? He'd never been one for casual encounters, not like some of his co-workers, but this... this didn't feel in the least casual, for all that they'd known each other less then a half a day. Neither of them spoke, neither of them needed to; instead, they just responded to the hunger and need in each others eyes, and came together as man and woman had been coming together for countless centuries. Afterwards was the time for words, whispered endearments and even a little laughter over their own clumsiness and fears. Finally Diane sighed, releasing his hand, and sat up in bed.

"I'd better go," she said regretfully. "I have customers booked in for early tomorrow morning."

"And I have to move on tomorrow," he said, regretfully, reaching out one hand to trace his finger down her arm. "I'm... very glad I met you."

She smiled at him, radiantly. "I'm glad too. Even if this is the only time we ever meet - I enjoyed today, John. And tonight!" she added, laughing throatily, as she climbed out of bed.
He smiled, and rose to his feet as well, the two embracing warmly. "Thank you for today," he told her, gravely. "If I'm ever back this way again..."

"Look me up," she said, nodding agreeably. "If. I won't expect it. But if it happens... I'm sure I'll enjoy it."

She'd dressed again, watching him watch her do so, and clearly enjoying the frankly admiring looks he gave her. They'd exchanged a final hug, a final, lingering kiss, and then she'd walked out the door and off into the night, presumably to take the trail back up the hill to the small town somewhere uphill from the motel that he'd still never seen.

----------


Nor had he seen it, not then, driving out again along the highway the first thing the next morning. It had been a nasty, foggy morning, changing to heavy rain later, he recalled, but he'd been in a fine mood anyway. The good mood had lasted for days, until he'd gotten back to the head office and found the doors locked and barred, a bankruptcy notice taped to the glass, and only a pink slip and about half his pay in the envelope that eventually showed up in his post office box.

He'd moved on to another job, of course, still travelling, always travelling - his entire adult life had been spent on the road, and he had to admit that, as lonely as it had been at times, he'd enjoyed it. He'd never been one for a settled life, for a wife and children and all that went with them.

He wondered if Diane still lived here in Pentland. If she still remembered that long-ago one night stand, that single nearly perfect day.
Curious, he went over to the coffee bar and asked the young man behind the counter if he knew of a Diane Royce in the area. The boy shrugged, then called out to a older woman just passing by the counter. "Hey, Mildred - you've lived her a lot longer then me. This gentleman is asking about a Diane Royce. You know who she is?"

He turned and looked at the older woman. "Diane Royce?" she said thoughtfully. "Her that used to run the beauty salon?"

"Yes," he agreed. "I passed through here years ago, and met her then..."
"Oh, well, I'm sorry to tell you that she died a few years ago. Her daughter runs the beauty salon now - actually, you just missed her, she was in here not 10 minutes ago. If you'd like to speak to her, it's just across the road..."

"Oh, no, that's okay," he said hurriedly. "She wouldn't know me - it was decades ago that I knew her mother. I'm sorry to hear she passed away - she was a fine woman. Well, thank you for letting me know, and a good-day to you."
Too bad, he thought as he left. It would have been nice to see Diane again, though undoubtedly she'd have been much-changed from the attractive middle-aged woman he'd known. But it sounded like she had finally met a Mr Right at some point, if she'd had a daughter to take over the beauty salon from her. He hoped she'd had a happy life.

Crossing the street, he climbed into his car, consulted his map, and drove away, leaving the town of Pentland behind, still following his wandering feet.

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#12sara_ashleyApr 25, 2011

i just start your other story "This Imperfect World" and it is great !!!! \:\) \:\) Sara

#13mysteryjack1Apr 25, 2011

Beautiful story, Ms B! I love your writing style and the plot \:wub\:

#14gel_0926Apr 25, 2011

nice story\:\)

#15kanzenApr 26, 2011

It was a nice easy read, it didn't make me go back to reread something and go 'what-he-say?' However, I find the long wall-o-texts in some pages quite, deterring. It could be just me but wall-o-texts make me want to hit the exit button, good thing your skill and interesting story kept me in the page so far haha. Overall this is a nice one-shot, keep it up!

#16oreo2745Apr 27, 2011

Yet another good story! I have to say I was shocked at the end - I was hoping he and Diane would see each other again. Keep up the great work! \:D

#17mogan44Apr 27, 2011

What an amazing story, I really hope there is more coming to this!  Maybe John should check out Diane's daughter?

#18methura1Apr 29, 2011

Her daughter is his daughter, isn't she? I knew it right when I saw her. The red hair, the eyes, I'm pretty sure they're his. Wow. Great story! Love love LOVED it!

#19Bubbablue12May 25, 2011

great story!

#20oldmember_lucianna88Aug 28, 2011

Well done, it's obvious a lot of work has gone into this. It's good.

#21HappyLizcat98Jul 19, 2013

great story! \:\)

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