Walking to the shop was a deliberate choice. There was time. After his Christmas plans had fallen through, he'd found himself with a week alone at home on his hands.
It felt empty, purposeless. Home chores tried to leap into the vacuum but that was not what he needed. Holidaying at home should be possible. It was all in the mind; shut the ‘to do’ lists, ignore pending Board reports, dripping kitchen taps, blocked gutters … take time out. Live in the moment, slow down, see. Right now, look at the hedgerows along the lane.
Hmmm... dull; mud brown, grey and bedraggled.
He stopped abruptly, lost in deep glowing red. Then the berries slipped back into recognition. Rose-hips; warm, smooth ruby set in intricate tracery of hawthorn twigs. Cool silver-barked hawthorn, it sent a shiver down his spine. The intensity stirred up memories of when autumn leaves were a fiery glory of stars and spikes. Of when he could almost drown in the burnished rings of conkers, still damp from their shells, never seen before. Tears prickled the back of his eyes.
Simple rose-hips. How many times had he driven past them, not seeing? When had he last split open a horse-chestnut shell or kicked leaves? He looked up.
A small boy stood looking at him, hesitating uncertainly where a path had forked a little way off and a long, long time ago.
Tears spilt but a smile spread slowly; I know you, his mind's voice said. Come home.