Julian Pratt had caught the third train of the morning, not wanting the press of the first two, which were express to London and full to the doors with the assorted grim-faced men and women who worked these days in the City, moving real and virtual money from here to there and back again.
Julian was in no rush this morning. As a pensioner, he was in no rush most mornings. In fact, it had been nearly two decades since he’d had to rush anywhere.
Back in the day, he’d always been in a hurry: in a rush to leave school, in a rush to get his university degree, in a rush to start a career and move out on his own. He’d done it, and quite successfully too; if one judged success solely on meeting goals one set for themselves.
By focusing only on this mental list, he hadn’t realized life–the stuff that comes at you with the speed of a bullet train, leaving just as quickly, and if you don’t grab it with two hands you’ll miss it entirely–would essentially pass him by.
And so, he found himself in his retirement years, alone. In looking back on his life, there were less than a handful of things he wished he’d done differently. The most important, undoubtedly, had been that January day on Tower Bridge.
He walked there now from the Tube stop. He wasn’t a fool–he knew there was no such thing as Fate and fifty years was a lot of water under the bridge. (Pun intended: He who rarely laughed, now laughed at his own mental joke). But still, what else did he have left to do all day?
He thought of the girl in the red beret while his feet carried him surely towards the bridge. He was in no rush at all.
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