Jenni Clarke - Author

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I glanced at my friend. ‘Yes.’

‘Do you know where we are?’

‘Yes. ‘ I shrugged.  ‘The New Forest.’

Lizzie shook her head and narrowed her eyes, while I pulled out the map, now creased and folded a million different ways. ‘Maybe here.’ I pointed to a wooded area on the edge of fields. ‘Maybe not. But it’s a beautiful day.’ I stuffed the map back in my backpack. ‘I’m sure if we follow this path it’ll take us somewhere.’

Lizzie laughed, then burst into song. She had a beautiful voice, and a forgiving nature. Which was fortunate for me, or she may never have come to visit. I suppressed a nostalgic sigh, college was a few years passed, and we rarely had the opportunity to be together as work and miles separated our lives.

We continued along the unknown path, munching the sweetest apples ever picked, and making up a story about two young teachers tragically dying in the forest, their bodies discovered only half a mile from their beige fiesta, half eaten apples in their hands and their faithful dogs lying across their feet.

Guinny, my canine companion, stopped snuffling in the discarded autumn leaves, her muscled tensed and her ears flicked forward. Effie, her black and white friend from the farm next door to where I lived, looked at her and then me, her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth.

I laughed. ‘Think they’re commenting on our story? Deciding whether to eat the apples and leave our bodies in the bracken?’

‘Look.’ Lizzie grabbed my arm and pointed to the clearing ahead of us, and I clicked my fingers brining both dogs to heel.

An immaculate black Bentley was parked on the grass, an elderly lady, dressed in timeless clothes of elegance and wealth sat in the back, with her half-filled wine glass on a walnut inlaid fold-down table, and her Pekinese on her lap. A grey-moustached man in suit and hat leaned on the car talking to her, his wine glass in hand.

A perfect scene from a different era.

‘Are we lost in time as well as place?’  I whispered as Lizzie asked, ‘Do you think it’s a film set?’ Our hearts beating a faster rhythm as our rampant imaginations threatened to propel us into another episode of story creating, but the Pekinese leapt from the car and yapped its way over to us, shattering the surreal moment.

Seeing no evidence of a camera crew we stepped forward, explaining our hesitation. The couple laughed, delighted with our thoughts, and happy to chat to us.

‘We have permission to drive here, now my wife is unable to walk the forest paths she’s spent her life campaigning for.’ The man picked up the Pekinese and returned it to his wife.

Lizzie smiled, pulling the map from by backpack. ‘You must know the forest very well, could you show us where we are?’

He chuckled. ‘I’d say you are lost. You’ve wandered off the map.’



 Fiction - The Path To Somewhere


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