Chapter Twenty

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Dear Diary,

Today was one of the best days of my life. The sun was shining for a start. Big beams of sunlight shone through my window this morning blazing right through my room. I stood at the window, looking onto the backyard below, down the street, tracing the hills in the background with my eyes. I kept wondering, what would today bring?

It was Friday. Finally. After a couple of days working in the bakery, the day had finally arrived. I had barely been able to concentrate on serving the locals their buns and cakes and what not. My mind was always on Friday. And it was finally here.

I opened the window a crack and felt the air with my hand. It was cold, in a frosty, fresh sort of a way. A gorgeous day. Clear blue skies, crisp air. I took a deep breath, turned away from the window and headed straight to my wardrobe.

Whilst I had been at the bakery I’d spent a large amount of time going over in my head what I would wear. By the time this morning came I had about ten different outfits mocked up in my mind. Feathers? A skirt? A hat? I looked out the window one more time and, miraculously, knew what to wear.

I reached for my black jeans, threw them on the bed and picked out a tartan shirt I got recently from Bessie’s. Perfect. I would put my black duffle coat on with the white piping around the edges and that would be it.

I spun my hair up into a sort of a bun at the back of my head and popped in a very special pair of earrings – two little owls, both slightly different, one with tiny green and blue gems, the other with just white. I got those earrings because they reminded me of Leo’s stuffed owl. It was a present from Mum. A snowy owl she got hold of in Iceland when she was on holiday there as a young woman. It sits now in Leo’s room, staring out all day long.

I touched the earrings in my ears and thought for a moment about Leo. He had no idea where I was going today. He thought I would be at the bakery again and I didn’t tell him otherwise. I reminded myself that I would tell him exactly what was going on, if anything came of today.

I batted the thoughts of my brother out of my head and gave myself a hopeful smile in the mirror. I just knew in my heart that today was going to be a special day.

Once I had grabbed some lunch and put on my boots I jumped out of the house into the backyard and took hold of my bike from the far wall. Cycling down there seemed like the best idea. It was quarter to one already by that point.

I led my bike out the backyard gate, hopped on and started peddling. The brown basket at the front rattled away as I rode over the cobbled street. It took a while to cycle right through the village until eventually I got to the country road that leads down into the valley where the canal runs.

I was high up and took a moment to pause on the road, looking down onto the countryside below. I could just see the canal right at the bottom, the water glistening under the sunlight. Rolling hills were either side and there were just a few houses dotted around. Bunches of sheep and cows grazed on the sloping fields.

I took a deep breath and felt the clean air travel down into my lungs. My cheeks felt pink from the air. I positioned the bike downhill and set off along the road, whizzing along until I had reached right down into the valley. At this point the road evened out and I rode along until I found the little lane that I knew led to the part of the canal Farley had described.

My heart started to pound in my chest and my hands gripped tighter onto the handlebars. I had almost forgotten what he looked like. What was I doing? I almost turned back. I couldn’t meet in secret with some guy when Leo didn’t even know.

I slowed the bike right down and chewed on my lip. The memory of Farley came into my mind. There was just something about him. I wanted to see if that feeling would come back if I saw him again. I kept peddling forward down the lane that was lined with stonewalls and a thick layer of trees behind. After a while the lane opened up, the wall stopped on the left hand side and there right in front of me was the canal.

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