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Meredith’s sleep was interrupted that night when she woke up from a dream about a young man living in fear of being hunted down. Waking up a bit later than she’d intended, she hurriedly prepared some bread baguettes, slicing and buttering them. She wrapped them in foil and put some meats and cheese into another foil parcel. Filling a couple of bottles with water and juice, she packed her backpack, adding her map and compass. Meredith also packed her camera, a hat and some sun cream, along with her picnic blanket.
Soon it was just before 9 am. Tim would arrive any minute, and she pulled her hair back to tie it up. Just then Meredith heard a knock at her door. Opening it, she saw Tim and greeted him. She’d decided she wouldn’t mention the articles she’d read the previous night. She wanted Tim to tell her when he felt ready. Leaving the cabin, Meredith locked the door, pocketing her key. She’d not heard from Cal again, so she guessed he was busy working.
The walk up to Echo Heights was moderate to start with and became slightly more intense as they reached the summit. All around the scenery was stunning. When they reached the top there was a bench at a lookout point. There was a railing along the edge, to prevent anyone falling from the ridge. As they approached the bench, Meredith noticed a silver plaque on the back of it. Engraved in the plaque read, “Remembering you always, Mum and Dad. Love Tim.” Clearing her throat, Meredith looked at Tim, to see if there was any sign of how he was feeling. He looked sad, but at peace seeing the bench.
“My parents came here for picnics all the time,” Tim mentioned. “They brought me with them when I was old enough to walk.”
Meredith smiled and thanked Tim for sharing his special place with her. As they sat to eat, he told her he’d never taken anyone else there. He had found it hard to trust people when he was growing up. He didn’t mention his uncle, though Meredith could see the pain in his eyes.
“It’s a beautiful place, so I can see why you’d like to come up here and get away from it all,” Meredith mused. “I found my parents’ old maps after you left last night. They’ve not been down to the cabin much this past few months. My mum’s had some health issues which have prevented her from travelling far from home.”
It was Meredith’s eyes that now revealed their concern for her mother’s well-being. Tim murmured a sympathetic reply, whilst Meredith took some of the food from her backpack. “At least we have somewhere to sit, rather than on my sorry excuse for a blanket,” she laughed. Talking about her mum was not something she wanted to face right now.
Tim helped Meredith unwrap the foil parcels she’d packed. Spreading the food between them, they ate in silence a while. Tim asked Meredith what she’d be returning to when she went home. He guessed she was at college, though his prompting made her smile wanly.
“I wanted to go to college, but I dropped out last year when my mum became ill. Dad needs help looking after her. I have no other siblings. When my mum is well enough, I hope to go back and pick up where I left off…” Meredith trailed off. This break to the cabin had been great to recharge herself, and at the same time it brought back memories of happier days.
Before long, their food was gone and Meredith decided to take some pictures from the viewpoint. As she zoomed in with her camera, Meredith noticed a road in the distance. It was the one she’d travelled on to reach the cabin. The road was pretty quiet, though she noticed a few cars passing along it. As she focussed on capturing the dry landscape, her eye honed in on a dark car driving towards the forest. A sudden feeling of unease swept through Meredith, and she gathered her belongings. Shoving them in her backpack, she apologised to Tim saying, “I’d love to stay longer, but I feel like I need to head back to the cabin.”
Tim offered to walk back with her, but Meredith reassured him she’d be fine with her maps. She still had plenty of water. Once again, she left as quickly as was possible, leaving Tim surprised. What had he said to make her want to leave?
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