Arthur Macmillan stood alone on the garden patio overlooking meadows and fields which spread out for miles from the view of his front garden. The mist and low winter sun bathed over the green hills and the sky was misty, fresh and cloudless, just how Arthur liked it. He breathed in the clear air slowly, reflecting on sad memories which always seemed to crop up on his unexpectedly.
Feeling a heavy weight on his shoulders, Arthur went back to his darkly lit cottage and tuned the radio to Classic FM. While violins played softly through the house, Arthur went through the drawing room and opened the glass cabinet with a squeak. The violins looked dusty, unused and neglected. Arthur hadn’t opened the cabinet since his best friend and work partner Martin died two years ago today, of a heart attack.
Arthur exhaled before picking up a violin at random, feeling it’s weight in his hands and breathing in the musky smell from the antique cabinet. The scent reminded him of Martin, as did the way the violins were stacked together untidily. They aren’t hamburgers Martin! He used to yell. He carefully placed the violin back inside the shelf.
By that afternoon, Arthur decided to take a trip to the local shop. It wasn’t actually that local, it meant crossing through fields, striding over a long bridge and passing steep blue hilltops. But Arthur loved the frosty English countryside, and found he used excuses to go to the shop just so he could walk the route to get there.
After the trek, Arthur was always a little uncomfortable going from the wild walk to the cramped, uncomfortable shop. He reluctantly browsed around before standing behind the counter and pushing milk, bread and two bottles of wine in front of Sandy, the shop owner.
“How are we today Arthur?” she asked, eyeing the wine curiously.
“Oh, fine thank you.”
“Made any more violins lately?” she grinned so broadly that Arthur could see two large silver teeth glistening at him.
“I mean,” Sandy went on, “If you’re feeling lonely you could always come along to our book group-”
“I’m alright thanks.”
“You know, Martin would have wanted you to move on-”
“Yes,” Arthur scooped his shopping up in his arms without waiting for Sandy to give him a bag. He made quickly for the door. “Keep the change!” he shouted behind him.
Marching back through the fields, the journey home was not half as enjoyable as it had been to get there. Arthur released his frustration by walking as quickly as possible until he was positively breathless. He could feel cold wet mud slide down his shoe and dampening his sock, but he couldn’t care less. For all he cared, the mud could pull him into the ground and keep him.
Back home, Arthur flung his coat off his back and dumped the shopping in the hall. He felt an overwhelming sensation to leave, run away, abandon the small minded village, regardless of how much he enjoyed the tranquility of the countryside. However, he was quite poor since he had stopped working and couldn’t afford to travel very far or stay in reasonable accommodation.
Arthur opened all the windows downstairs before pouring himself a large glass of wine. It was quite out of character for Arthur to drink. He used to roll his eyes at Martin as he poured himself a large gin and tonic every evening at 7pm. Arthur found it a peculiar routine. It seemed like scheduling time each day to turn your brain to mush. Yet as Arthur sipped his glass, he soon understood the appeal. His racy and overactive thoughts had slowed down a great deal.
Arthur went to the drawing room and played a record of Chopin on the player. He lay down on the sofa sluggishly and closed his eyes, tapping his fingers along to with the relaxing music.