It was the smallest, simplest of moments on the most ordinary of days.
The gentle spring sunshine sent his rays through the kitchen window, to dapple the worktops with patches of warmth. Sunlight played in the boughs of the sycamore at the bottom of the garden, changing the colour of the light above the lawn as it shone through the leaves, almost fluorescent in their green newness.
A cold, wet nose poked the back of my calf and I turned, crouching to ruffle the ears of our ever-happy, liver and white spaniel. She licked the biscuit crumbs from my fingers; the tapping of her claws on the linoleum and the energetic swishing of her tail and snuffling of her nose creating a little chaos of noise, in stark contrast to the quiet calm that had settled over the rest of the house.
My hands continued to fuss and stroke, enjoying the warmth of her welcome, the softness of her fur; my mind wandered.
Contemplating the day, I found the cogs of my consciousness ticking over what still needed to be done.
Could I get away with just an hour of work that evening? Dates and deadlines whirled and teased in my head, at once speeding towards me like an express train, and yet stretching forever into the distance as though it would never be over.
Sharp and sudden in the quiet afternoon, my phone rang, interrupting my train of thought. I rose, legs aching – I must have been crouching longer than I realised – and crossed to the worktop to answer.
Glancing at the name on the screen, my heart skipped and stumbled in surprise.
A text…a text wouldn’t have been unusual but a phone call?
I reached for the phone, only the tiniest of tremors in my fingers betrayed my…excitement? Nervousness?
And everything started to change.