The Sprinting Past Catches up Quicker Than You Think

Asia's home is a quite country cottage shared with her bickering but loving grandparents who are looking after her and the house whilst Asia's mother galavants across the globe on a 'soul-finding' adventure with her new man. This unfortunately leaves Asia in the abyss of exams, university, families, love... life in general! With no mother whom she can talk to and confide in how her life plays out is up to you!

The freshly fallen snow crunched beneath Mr Walten's wellington boots as he trudged along the endless garden path.  The rose bushes, now standing dormant in their winter-slumber, twinkled with frozen water gems on snowy lace-cobwebs. The apple trees were dusted and the garden wall iced with a white frosting.  A robin, perched rather precariously on an ivy branch, idly watched Mr Walten's journey down the wintery garden.

In the cottage behind, a young woman stood in the window watching Mr Walten's solitary garden walk. Even at the ripe old age of seventy-seven, her grandfather still plodded around his beloved garden most of the day, rain or shine, wind or snow. He tended it so lovingly and with such care that you would almost think it were a person. Despite the garden being covered with a blanket of white, he was out there just checking his plants. The young woman watched as Mr Walten walked under the bare arms of the sleeping apple tree: he looked up and appeared to be talking to a sweet warm-chested robin.

Mr Walten turned to face the cottage and sighed, gazing at the old home with a distant look on his old weather-beaten face. He seemed not to be in his garden; his feet planted firmly on the nicely trimmed grass but his mind floating in some far-off memory. His eyes mindlessly wandered across the building taking in each character-defining feature with a meticulous yet caring eye. As he examined it he saw the young woman in the window and waved slowly with a broad smile and the sweet robin still sat patiently on his other hand. Turning once again back to the robin, Mr Walten stroked its chest affectionately. It then flitted away off his outstreched hand as Mr Walten made his slow return back into the cottage, and out of sight.

When Mr Walten got to his front door, he didn't enter straight away. He turned and faced the winter wonderland before him. It was now his turn to watch as the cheerful robin flew brightly into the trees, free to live and do what he pleased with a light and happy heart.

Mr Walten pulled off his cold and wet wellington boots in the hallway of his welcomingly-warm cottage. The melting snow left a damp path on the dark carpet. " Dennis, would you please leave you boots in the porch: I'm getting fed up of having to dry that carpet everyday!" called his wife, Maria Walten, from the kitchen. Dennis Walten smiled guiltly into his coat. "Or come in through the kitchen. I don't know why you insist in coming in through the front."

"Because I'm working in the front garden, dear," Dennis said under his breath. He had a deep respect for his wife but sometimes she was a bit dippy. After taking the offending boots and placing them in the porch, following his wife's orders, he made his way into the living room where the roaring fire would warm his chilled fingers.

The fire was greeted with a satisfied smile from Dennis as his frozen body began to feel the effect of the heat. No matter how much he enjoyed working in his garden, the was a great comfort when he returned inside. "Cold out there, Grandpa?" asked his grandaughter, Asia, who was sitting in the window. She was curled up with a blanket and a book in her lap.

"Quite. I can't wait for Gran's stew to warm me up."

"Hmm, me too. Gran says it won't be long," Asia said as she peeled off the warm woolen blanet reluctantly and gave her grandfather a large bear-hug.

"You're freezing! Grandpa, you should really wrap up warmer. I don't want you to get ill." Dennis let out a succession of deep chesty coughs. "look! You've still got that cough from last mouth," she explained with concern as she rubbed his arms vigorously.

"Don't worry about me, dear," soothed her grandfather, pushing aside her long chestnut-coloured curls from her face, "but I will put an extra layer on next time. Just for you!" He tapped her nose, "Come on, let's eat!"

At the table, Maria Walten served up the steaming stew. Its warm, mouth-watering aroma comforted both Dennis and Asia. "Oooh! What would I do without you, Maria?" cooed Deniss to his wife whilst giving himself a most generous portion.

"Go hungry, darling", joked Maria. Asia collapsed in fits of giggles.

"You enjoy taking the mick of your Grandpa, eh?" teased Dennis tickling her in the process. Even though she was seventeen, she enjoyed his childish games.

"Stop it, you two!" exclaimed her grandmother, "You're both as bad as each other!" She picked at her food timidly but with poise. Dennis and Asia looked down guiltily but failed to hide thier laughter their breaths. " The pair of you! You're like peas in a pod!" continued Maria, beginning to see the funny side.

"Well I couldn't be without my Asia!" chorused Dennis whilst he wrapped his arm around his grandaughter so tightly that he nearly sent her dinner flying.

"Now calm down before you make a mess! Plus, it's getting cold," cried Maria. She ladled herself another bowl of stew. There was a few moments of silence apart from quiet slurps from Dennis.

"Back to school tomorrow then, love?" asked Dennis in an attempt to start conversation again as he scraped the last few dregs in his bowl, noisily.

"Yep. I don't know whether I feel like it though," mumbled Asia, downhearted by the prospect of returning to school. Most children wouldn't want to go back, but somehow Asia's dread was deeper. There were just so many pressures: her exams loomed in the not so distant futrue. She had to do well, for her parents, her grandparents and herself. Asia was bright, but she felt that, no matter what, she had to excel: to do her parents proud and make something of her life. She didn't want to be the disappiontment her mother was to her parents. They denied  it completely, but she often heard her grandparents arguing over how her mother had just taken off to galiavnt across the globe with her new man. They said they didn't mind looking after Asia, it was just that they didn't want her mother to get used to leaving her respinsibilities behind her for someone else to take care of. Asia enjoyed staying with her grandparents, she always had, but she too was annnoying that her mother wasn't with her. She missed her terribly and whenever called her name, Asia was constanly reminded of her absence: Asia was her mother's most loved destination and so named her daughter after it. In fact, that was where she was, exploring the furtherst reaches of rural China.

"Oh! Are you not feeling well? asked Maria, bring Asia back to reality.

"No, I'm fine," replied Asia miserably, "just don't want to go back to school. I've got a pile of coursework and revision to face when term starts up. I'm going to miss those lie-ins too!" She managed to force a small grin on her gloomy face.

"Now that's my girl!" cheered Dennis, "We'd best give your gran a hand and tidy the table up." The three of them got up and began to clear up the sticky bowls. Her grandfather always cheered her up when she was down but Asia knew, as she smiled weakly, with some things he couldn't improve her spirits.

The End

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