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It was an especially windy morning, with grey skies that threatened rain, so she had put on her winter coat and buttoned it up against the cold. Still, the wind blew through her, making her shiver as if somebody had walked over her grave.

She blew on her fingers to warm them up and walked on. She couldn’t be put off by the weather. She was expected and simply not turning up because the day was a little inclement was not something she would even consider. She had never been the kind of woman who would let you down and she liked to think that she could still be relied on. A woman of her word, she was.

She walked past shops, gazing briefly at the goods in the windows and occasionally tutting at the prices. Everything was so dear these days.

She paused at the post office, taking a card out of her handbag and slipping it into the post box. She wondered if she would get a reply. Nobody wrote letters any more these days, but even a telephone call would be nice. She wished, as she usually did when she sent off a birthday card to one of her children, that she might get a visit, but she didn’t really expect it any more. After all, it was a long way for them to come just to see an old woman.

She walked past cafés, glancing in through the windows to see if she recognised anybody. It was less and less likely these days, but she had made a habit of looking, ready to stop in for a quick chat. It wouldn’t do to simply walk past, that would be ignorant and she wouldn’t be thought of as ignorant. Still, she saw no-one that she knew, so she would be a little early today. That wasn’t a bad thing, she thought. It’s better to be early than late.

The park was quiet when she arrived. In the distance she could see a couple sheltering in the bandstand, and a few dog-walkers crossing the open grassy space. Everyone else had been put off by the weather, apparently. She followed her usual path to the duck pond and settled down in her usual spot on the bench.

“Yes, I’m early today, aren’t I,” she said, taking a plastic bag out of her handbag. “Took you by surprise, didn’t I, my lovelies?”

The ducks quacked and gathered around as the lonely old lady threw pieces of bread for them.

© Kari Fay

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