by Catherine E. Chapman
“Remind me why I’m here,” Sandy said to Angela.
“To find a man, of course,” Angela replied.
“I had no idea it was going to be this gruelling.”
“It’s simple: there are ‘A’ walks and ‘B’ walks. ‘B’ walks are flat; to get a man who’s in good condition, you need to do an ‘A’ walk.”
“So this is an ‘A’ walk?”
“I think I’d have been safer with a ‘B’ walk.”
Angela sighed in exasperation at her friend’s lack of endurance. They’d been walking for ten minutes up a steady incline at the foot of a mountain range. It was a well-maintained, clearly-defined footpath. This was the easy bit – later on it would just get worse.
“You need a motivator,” Angela suggested to Sandy. “Just keep your eyes fixed on him.” She pointed to a tall, broad-shouldered man with curly brown hair, striding out ahead of them. “He’s called Rob, I think. Just focus on him and you’ll be at the summit before you know it.” Angela was an optimist but, what with trying to keep an eye on the lagging Sandy, whilst not losing sight of their motivator, and, at the same time, walking on the loose stones, she missed her footing and was, in an instant, a heap on the ground. “I think it’s my ankle!” she exclaimed, alarmed.
Quick as a flash, the very considerate Doris, who’d already introduced herself to them, was at their side, looking down, with concern, at Angela. She called ahead. “Rob! A casualty for you!”
He of the motivating fame turned decisively and strode back down the mountain. Sandy saw Angela’s eyes light up.
“It’s my ankle,” Angela announced, upon Rob’s arrival.
Rob crouched beside Angela, undid the laces of her trainer, loosened and removed the shoe, then gently felt her foot and ankle.
“Don’t worry dear,” Doris reassured Angela, “you’re in expert hands now.”
“Are you a doctor?” Angela asked Rob, mesmerized.
“A physiotherapist,” Rob corrected.
“Even better!” she responded.
Rob laughed. Angela looked up and saw Sandy staring down at her with raised eyebrows.
Rob pronounced his diagnosis: “You’ve twisted it. I don’t think much damage has been done but if it feels uncomfortable now it might be wiser to go back to the car park.”
“I’m happy to take you home and then your friend could carry on with the walk,” offered a light-haired man who wore glasses.
“Chris, you’re too kind,” said Doris. “Chris is always saving damsels in distress,” she told the girls.
Angela got to her feet and put some weight on her injured leg.
“What do you think?” Rob asked.
“It feels absolutely fine,” Angela claimed. “I want to carry on with the walk,” she said, nodding enthusiastically. “I want to get to the top.”
To Sandy, it seemed amazing that Angela’s pain could have subsided so quickly – maybe it had been his healing hands...
“Are you sure?” Doris asked Angela. “It’ll be much harder to turn back once we’re higher up.”
“No, really, I’m fine,” Angela assured them all.
The walking party continued its ascent. Eventually Rob and Chris forged their way to the head of the group again and Doris too found the girls’ pace too slow for her liking.
When they were alone Sandy asked Angela, “Are you really alright?”
“I think so,” Angela replied. “What would you have done, given the choice between spending the rest of the day with the heavenly Rob or being escorted home by geeky Chris?”
“Don’t be horrible!” Sandy scolded.
“It’s a shame,” Angela continued, “that we both like the same one. It’d be so convenient if you liked Chris…”
“Or if you liked Chris!”
“My heart already belongs to Rob.”
Angela was joking but Sandy knew there was some truth in the comment. “Look, the whole point of doing this was to get fit, not to look for boyfriends,” she reminded Angela.
“Speak for yourself!” Angela replied.
“It’s a bit embarrassing though that someone who’s older than my mum is steaming ahead of us,” Sandy commented, looking up the slope at Doris happily striding on.
“Hmm,” agreed Angela. “It just goes to show that what we need is more practice.”