‘You know, that could be us one day,’ Hannah smiles.
‘What could be us?’ Tom wrestles the double buggy from the car boot and swears as he attempts to assemble it. Hannah unclips the toddler from the back seat and lifts her out. One red welly falls into the gutter.
‘That couple in the Volvo over there,’ Hannah says with a sideways head tilt in their direction. The couple in the car look to be in their sixties, they have their car parked pointing out to sea, their windows are halfway down. The woman is staring at the view while the man reads a newspaper. They don’t notice Tom and Hannah staring at them. Hannah straps the baby into the second seat of the buggy, next to the toddler who is demanding a snack.
‘We could not be that couple.’
‘You mean like those couples who park up outside a stately home, but rather than go inside or walk around the gardens, they get out their folding chairs and thermos flasks and have a picnic right there in the carpark, a foot away from their cars?’
‘Yes, I suppose a bit like those couples.’
‘Those couples that just sit staring at the view, at their lives passing them by, not talking, just killing time until one of them dies?’
‘Well I don’t mean that we won’t be talking to each other.’ Hannah opens a pouch of pre-pureed fruit mush of the type she once swore she would never buy and hands it to the toddler who slurps on it enthusiastically. The baby sucks on the leg of a stuffed sheep.
‘Those couples don’t have children Hannah. They don’t have double buggies and toddlers and a nap schedule to stick to. They have…I don’t know, cars that are clean on the outside and the inside, pensions, sanity, time on their hands, sex lives. All that stuff.’
‘Well we might have those things too one day. I don’t mean next week; I mean when we’re older.’ Hannah ignores Tom’s not-so-subtle reference to sex lives or lack thereof.
‘But even if we do Hannah, we won’t be one of those couples. Those couples clearly have zero imagination.’ Tom takes control of the buggy and strides ahead. Hannah stops and looks out at the sea wistfully, before hurrying after him.
‘What’s wrong with just sitting and enjoying some peace and quiet next to a nice view with the person you love? Don’t you want to spend time with me in a car park with a thermos flask one day? Maybe don’t answer that.’
Tom doesn’t answer that.
‘You know, maybe there’s a reason they don’t get out of their cars and walk around gardens or along seafronts or whatever. Maybe they did all that before. Maybe they’ve had enough of that and they’re exhausted. Maybe they like a quiet life. Or maybe their grandchildren are in the back and they’re too terrified to move in case they wake them up.’
Tom stops and looks Hannah in the eye. ‘I don’t think those are the reasons. I think there are people who have picnics in carparks and people who don’t. I don’t think I’m one of those people Hannah. Maybe you are, but I’m not.’
‘Well, thanks Tom. At least I know where I stand now.’
‘No problem,’ Tom says, putting on the buggy brake next to a bench twenty yards along the sea front. ‘Now, what snacks did you bring for me?’
Rebecca Field lives and writes in Derbyshire, UK. She has been published online by Riggwelter Press, Spelk Fiction, Reflex Press, The Cabinet of Heed and Ellipsis Zine among others. Tweets at @RebeccaFwrites