A marriage of convenience? Maybe not. She was petite with soft smooth skin that hid her true age and he was a tall ex rugby player, now a dairy farmer by day. George’s leather tanned skin crinkled into a hundred lines when he broke into a broad smile which he almost always did when ever she entered the room. Love had bloomed late in life for our love birds. Neither had honestly expected a second chance and even less did they think they would fall head over heels in love. It had all happened by accident.
One cold February evening on a long lonely stretch of country road Estelle’s car died, just packed up totally. As the head lights dimmed and the car ran out of oomph, it came to a final halt. Terrified. Panicked by the whole experience she feared that another car would run into the rear end of her vehicle now that it sat parked, stranded and unlit. Grabbing at her handbag in the passenger seat well, she fumbled furiously in the dark looking for her mobile phone. Finally finding it. Ringing the rescue recovery people was essential and should have been easy but to her alarm there was no reception, no bars, no chance to make this urgent call.
Dejected and troubled she picked up her bag and as she stepped out of her car, a raw wind took her breath away. Drawing her winter coat tightly around her slight frame she looked left and then right and in her minds eyes she mentally flipped a coin. Which direction to turn, right, back the way she had already come or left, into the unfamiliar. Sleeping in the car had briefly flown thorough her mind but fear of being shunted up the rear; she had dismissed this impractical thought almost instantly. Abandoning the comfort of her car she had set off at slow pace, treading carefully, wondering what lay in front, up this unknown road.
Slowly her eyes adjusted, unaccustomed to walking up a shadowy lane, and as the rain came she pulled out a tiny red umbrella, trudging on not sure or certain how long she would have to travel before finding help. Heading off left up the dark unlit lane, leaving her dangerously abandoned parked vehicle, was an eerie experience. Time passed silently and as she rounded the bend some distance ahead she could see a sign post, its sign swinging gently on its hinges. Approaching with anticipation she held her breath making out the words in the dark she contemplated her choices. Continue along this unfamiliar road or traipse up along this dark track to the dairy farm.
The cows won, and stealthily she set off up this mucky access road, slippery under foot with no idea of what welcome she would find at this late hour. Having no idea where the farm house sat, it somehow felt darker and as the cows mooed menacingly, Estelle became unsettled. Stopping she looked back to the road, no traffic, no help lay there. Nothing had passed her on her way here. No headlights, nothing to help her find her way. It was a long lonely walk up a long isolated drive. Arriving finally at the farm house, she contemplated waking its occupants; she imagined that they would be none too pleased being woken at this late hour as they had probably settled down for the night.
Hesitating, her hand hovered over the door knocker before she proceeded with hammering loudly on the front door. Sheltering under her umbrella the rain fell incessant and heavier. Shivering in the cold wet night air she waited patiently. Nothing. Not a sound. Hammering louder and longer, thumping the knocker with urgency that showed all her frustration, uncertain how long to wait, a light came on over head, then a landing light until finally the front door sprung open, almost bouncing off its hinges.
George knew instantly. Here was his damsel in distress, a chance to be a good knight. Closing his robe around his large frame, and tying the cord, he smiled a warm inviting smile, as his shoulders dropped settling his large chest into a more relaxed pose.
“I’m sorry to disturb you.” Estelle looked up at this dairy farmer. Framed by her umbrella the knight caught sight of her face which reflected back a warm soft glow, like a beautiful red English rose.
He stood a foot taller than her, in bare feet.
“Car broken down?”
Lousy mobile phone reception around these parts.” He acknowledged knowingly.
“Come in out of the wet.” His hand, as large as a shovel, ushered her into the hallway, directing her to the land line phone sitting on the hall table.
“Please ring who ever you need.”
Estelle collapsed her umbrella, shook the excess raindrops off its cover and gingerly walked into this brightly lit, warm farmhouse. As she stepped over the threshold George bounded up the stairs away from her, two at a time.
Estelle was talking to the recovery call centre when George reappeared fully dressed in green corduroy trousers, a warm flannel shirt, and pulling on his chunky Aran jumper that ruffled his mop of dark brown hair giving him a tousled look, socks but no shoes. Running one hand through his unruly hair straightening out most of it, back in to its natural resting place.
Placing the phone back in its cradle, she smiled at George.
“Thank you for coming to my rescue, they have promised to be here within the hour…”
“Tea, coffee or hot chocolate, kitchens this way, its warmer in here.”
George headed off and Estelle followed this tall lumbering man who instinctively ducked under the door frame. Her curiosity aroused as he pulled a chair closer the large aga range, offering her a seat. He placed the kettle on the hob.
Falling into conversation these two opposites found plenty to talk about to pass the time and tensions eased as Estelle drank her warm brew, noting he made a good cup of tea. She asked him about his farm, his herd and the hours he kept.
Privately George battled with his thoughts, whilst answering all her questions, he just knew she was his type of girl, but at fifty nine he was resigned to and had accepted his single life. It was tough being a dairy farmer and he had given up hope of meeting a wonderful woman. Sitting opposite Estelle his old dream surfaced and he thought himself foolish. The phone in the hall rang loudly and George jumped up to answer it.
Looking around his warm kitchen she noted it was tidy and clean, the sage green cabinets complimented the old red quarry tiled floor and she found herself thinking that she would not change a thing if this was her kitchen. Imagining herself cooking up a storm filling this room with the fresh baked smell of apple pie. Grasping her mug tightly she realized she was free to do what ever she desired and maybe this wistful thought was not quite as daft or dangerous as it first seemed.
“The recovery man said he would be here by eleven forty, is that okay? Looking at Estelle.
I’m so sorry for keeping you up so late, you probably have an early start and need this distraction like a hole in the …”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine,” he responded gently, sitting back down.
Estelle liked his broad shoulders and wide expanse of chest just the right spot to bury her head and have a good boo, if the need should ever arise.
Loneliness evaporated, his kitchen felt alive with her company and her perfume hung in the air, a soft feminine scent he had not smelt in a long time. Wanting desperately in that moment to bring his single life to a halt. The longer they talked the less George wanted the recovery vehicle to arrive. Dreading the moment she would leave his kitchen and disappear into the night with a different knight, the one with the shining armour, the knight that could fix her car and slay her fears. Never to be seen again he feared.
Estelle felt herself quietly slip from her modest world into his world. For the first time in ages she felt she could slow down, breathe easier and dare to let her guard down. Instinctively she knew he was thinking the same thing, they had clicked just like that, however daft it sounded. The way he looked at her, held her gaze, she knew he was interested. Here was a practical man – just what she needed.
“I love your kitchen. Simple but elegant. I would not change a thing.”
A soft smile spread across George’s face as wrinkles pleated in appreciation of her kind comment. But his moment was short lived as the house lit up from outside, his shoulders fell into a resigned loss. The recovery vehicle arrived.
“Oh my rescue recovery is here.” Sounding quite dejected.
George looked at Estelle. Estelle looked at George. Neither of them moved nor spoke, they just sat and stared at each other until the false knight rang the door bell. They both knew what they wanted. Full to the brim with life’s experiences if he had suggested going and sleeping outside under the stars that night she would have followed him outside to the field and laid down. To look up in wonder at the constellation above.
Two months later the honeymoon begun, on St George’s day, finally for two people who late in life got a chance to discover if it mattered that a good mannered lonely farmer was a match for a woman of no family, who had stumbled up his drive fortunately for him and for her, one cold February night.