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Taking the Short-cut

Give Thanks
She’s a member of the Poetry Group. Every Monday they meet in the Church Hall. The meeting lasts two hours, sometimes longer. But rarely does it last as long as three hours. The meeting holds in the evening. Members bring biscuits and sometimes cakes or fruits which they share among themselves. In Spring or summer, the class meets at 7p.m. but during Autumn or Winter, it starts at 6p.m.
She has missed some sessions, about four in total. She doesn’t really have new poems to share with the group. That’s why she’s been absent. But in the past week she had been busy. She had been inspired to dish out seven poems at the rate of one poem per day. So she feels confident to join the group tonight and share some of these new poems. She doesn’t write on love. She writes on other subjects but love.
It’s late autumn. The days are getting shorter. One could feel the winter announcing its’ arrival. She wraps up warmly, puts a packet of digestive biscuit in a small carrier bag grabs her hand-bag and sets off for the poetry class.

Ten minutes after leaving home, she gets to the Church Hall. She meets only the group leader, Tony. He’s always the first to arrive. Other members come in, one after the other, within 15 minutes after her arrival. They sit around a circular table in one corner of the hall. Tony welcomes all. Then turn by turn, each member reads his/her poems in a clockwise manner. There’s a pause after each poem is read during which members appreciate the poem or ask questions. The writer’s ready to explain and shed some light on the poem and where or what inspired him/her to write it.
The meeting is lively. The discussions center on poems, music, the arts. The reading goes on till 8.30p.m. It’s Tony who looks at his watch and says they have to bring the class to a close. It’s an autumn night. The sky is starless. The evening wind is icy. Winter is announcing itself.  The members decide to walk home in pairs. So those going the same direction pair up. She’s paired with a middle-aged man, Gus, who goes the same route as she.
She wants to go through the High Street but Gus suggests taking the short-cut – the Shepherds’ Walk which is off the High Street. She says it’s lonely at that hour. He tells her that he’s with her so she’s safe.
Through the Shepherds’ Walk they go. Gus talks about his days at Cambridge College. After five minutes she’s by her gate. She thanks him, says good night and he goes off.
The following Monday, she returns to the Poetry Class. She sees all but Gus. At the end of the class, she asks Tony about Eddy. Tony says that Gus has been certified to a mental institution. This happened two days after the last poetry class.
She goes home through the High Street. She thinks of her journey home a week earlier with Eddy. She remembers their journey through the Shepherds’ Walk. She recalls him talking about his university days. She can see herself walking beside him on a lonely short-cut on a late autumnal night. For her the temperature drops to minus, minus, minus. She wraps her shawl tightly around her. She hurries to get home and tell her family to give thanks.

O’Yemi Afolabi
5 October 2017
All rights reserved 
Painting by Emmanuel Dudu 

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