I didn't mean to write something that linked in with At the Sign of the White Hart but I had already started writing the next installment that fitted so well with the quotation from the Light and Shade Challenge for this week. This is the pared down version, 514 words (oops!) down from 3192 for the full version which you can find on the blog 'At the Sign of the White Hart' here or, if you're interested you can find the full story from the beginning here.
Ian followed the vague directions. He went through the door and up the stairs, along the passage and stopped outside the fourth door on the right. Somehow this door seemed to be a much bigger step than anything else so far. He lowered both of his bags to the floor. He didn’t want to do this. He wanted to go back to Ann and be happy again. He wanted time to rewind. He wanted it all to be different. Ian squared his shoulders and turned the key in the lock.
Picking up his bags and stepping across the threshold was one of the hardest things Ian had ever done, but he did it. Then he gave himself a shake and looked around. It was clean. The paint on the plain magnolia walls were new and so was the plain beige carpet. The cream coloured curtains were also new and still stiff as he pushed them back a little. He had a view of a carpark but past that he could see York’s medieval walls with the distinctive tower of the Minster in the distance. He checked his watch. He needed this job and this place so much. He had to make a good impression.
He ran a quick eye over the room as he opened his bags. The bed looked comfortable and the new bedlinen looked clean and inviting. The sturdy wardrobe came with a good supply of hangers and the tv was set on a matching set of drawers. The small table next to the light brown chair was second hand like the wardrobe and chest of drawers but was equally as sturdy. He found a lump in his throat. Someone had tried to make him welcome. A vase of daffodils sat next to the tv and a box of tissues was on the small bedside table next to the lamp.
Ian felt a lump in his throat. This was a chance to begin again. The odds were not in his favour, but that was no reason to give in. He hung his jacket behind the door. The rest of his unpacking could wait apart from one vital thing.
Ian dug into the bottom of the sports bag, tipping his clothes carelessly on the bed. Right at the bottom, carefully wrapped, was the most precious thing he now had. Ann, his soon-to-be-ex-wife, had given it to him just before he left. He unwrapped it reverently. He took down the print of York Minster and hung up the most important thing he had left, the only real thing he had left, the thing he needed most. He stepped back and memorised the way it looked with the morning sunlight glancing across the newly painted wall and over the pink and white, shabby chic, feminine plaque. The particle board was shaped and sanded to look like driftwood or reclaimed fencing and there were tiny sequins framing the folksy lettering. Ian didn’t care. Ann had given him this last thing. A piece of wall art that said HOPE in fake-faded glory. That was all that mattered.
And I hope no-one minds me mentioning this, but you can find out more about Ian in my novella 'Dinner at Dark' available at Smashwords, Amazon and all good ebook retailers. You don't, however, need to read that to be able to enjoy the stories from 'At the Sign of the White Hart' as all is explained as we go.