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A Home By The Sea

Upholstered against the elements in scarf and overcoat and with a battered trilby perched on his head, Richard sets off on his afternoon walk. He crosses carefully at the zebra and walks up onto the promenade, where the café in the ornamental gardens is open but untroubled by customers.

Seated by the window, he stares out over the windswept veranda. Many years ago he'd spent his honeymoon in this town. His bride, a pale, nervous young woman had seemed well suited to be the wife of an unambitious schoolmaster. So he'd been surprised when six months later he'd discovered her spread across their bed with a colleague from the reference library.

The waitress approaches with his usual pot of Earl Grey, without milk. He glances at the badge attached to her breast, though he has a good memory for names. For thirty years he taught English in a series of secondary schools, each new one more bog-standard than its predecessor, until his mother's death when he'd accepted early retirement from an indifferent employer, sold his flat in Belsize Park, and joined his unmarried sister in their childhood home by the sea. 

Richard finishes his tea and continues his walk. He is pleased to see his bench is unoccupied, with its unrestricted view of the vast expanse of ocean. Before he sits, he reads the words on the rusty plaque: 'He loved to sit here', engraved underneath his own name.


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