Friday was much less eventful. The rain had finally arrived, and the hems of Christina’s trousers were sodden from the journey to work. The old building took a while to warm up, but she pulled her desk in the archives closer to the radiator so her feet were almost touching it.
She was annoyed at herself by ten o'clock, repeatedly distracted by hopes that the mysterious man from yesterday would reappear. She told herself that it was just curiosity but the blush she felt in her cheeks and ears thinking about him betrayed her, the idea of seeing him again excited her in a way she couldn’t understand. Chastising herself for being childish she muttered under her breath about schoolgirl crushes and renewed her efforts to concentrate on work.
When she left that evening, the prospect of spending a full uneventful weekend with Ricky in the flat with the probable rain beating at the window felt like a weight around her neck. Then the realisation that she would have no opportunity to catch a glimpse of the dark haired stranger until at least Monday and that this disappointed her made her feel foolish and further worsened her mood.
Popping up her umbrella, Christina resolved to make the most of the weekend by hell or high water.
A thin blue crack dazzled through the drawn curtains, Christina blinked and squinted at the unexpected brightness. Looking over at Ricky’s dopey sleeping face and broad, bare chest she smiled and felt some of the old warmth that she used to feel towards him. Who couldn’t be in love with that sight? The sudden urge to tickle him awake like she would have when they first met was halted when she decided that she would take advantage of the fine weather to walk to the shops and pick up something tasty for brunch.
An old recipe of grandma’s appeared so vividly in her mind that she could feel her tongue tingling and her mouth fill up with saliva. Brown bread, cut like doorsteps and toasted, spread with butter and roasted garlic, smothered in warm, crushed tomatoes and sardines. She remembered the horrified look on her schoolmates’ face when she described it once, but it was delicious and this morning she had woken up with it on her mind.
Pulling on her jeans and socks to protect her feet from the cold of the bathroom tiles she wandered over to the sink, feeling more refreshed than she had for a while. After letting the tap run a while to warm up she washed her face, underarms, and neck.
The freezing early morning wind bit at her cheeks and the tip of her nose and Christina pushed her chin lower into her scarf. The blue of the sky was glorious, perfect weather to clear your head, she knew then she had made the right decision to leave Ricky in bed and come out alone.
She took her time over the tomatoes, looking for the most intense red and squeezing them lightly in her hand to check for the perfect ripeness. She looked for the darkest brown bread and after gathering the rest of the ingredients, with the newspaper folded and tucked under her arm she headed for the tills.
Back at the flat, feeling energised, she fired up the gas hob to pulp the tomatoes and warmed the oven for the garlic cloves to slow roast in their skins. With nothing left to prepare, and forty minutes or so to wait for the garlic to reach a soft, spreadable state she settled at the kitchen table with the newspaper and placed her mug on one of the many existing ringed stains. The table had been bought second hand, well used but of superior quality, a thousand knife marks and scuffs, it made you think of country kitchens and fresh produce being prepared from scratch.
When the skin of the cloves was brown and flaky, Christina squeezed one between her thumb and forefinger. It was hot enough to burn but it felt good. As the skin burst the rich, creamy aroma of garlic was released. A few minutes more, just to let them soften completely and warm the sardines and tomatoes through. Just enough time to finish the paper off with the classified ads and wake Ricky.
And there it was, shouting at her out of the print, the job of her dreams. Trainee Archive Manager. Setting up a whole new project. The authority to make decisions and really make things better, something she knew she was capable of. Oh and a new start was exactly what she needed. Away from this flat, and this town, a better salary, maybe a place with a garden, her and Ricky really making a go of it. It was so easy to imagine that this would be the answer to all her problems that she let herself be convinced.
She decided not to mention it over breakfast, she wanted more time to study the job advert in detail, look up the area, the properties to rent nearby. It was difficult to keep quiet, she sat there feeling as though she could burst and her eyes darted back to the open page with the advert calling out to her. Ricky was delighted with her mood, the fact that she’d slept well, she looked more full of vitality than he’d seen her in a long time. After they’d finished their food and polished off the six cup cafetiere of coffee Christina stood behind Ricky’s chair and wrapped her arms around his naked shoulders before snatching up the paper and going to run a bath and start her secret investigations.