Anna folded the letter and put it in her purse and listened to the buzz of voices coming from the back of the bus. She kept the picture of Great Uncle Henry’s charming little cottage on her bedside table and never considered him cranky. The times Anna visited with her Mother he told interesting stories of his youth and made her teddy bear bounce on his hand. Anna never figured out how he did it and he wouldn’t disclose the secret.
Anna gazed out the window at the rolling hills as the bus rumbled along the narrow winding road that twisted and turned through the green hills. People paused in their work and waved when the bus passed. It was scenic with little white cottages with neat flower beds and vegetable gardens. The thatched roofs glowed in the afternoon sunlight. The green hillsides were covered with scrubby trees. Sheep and goats grazed peacefully almost disappearing behind the trees at times. Little children ran and played on the many paths that wound around the trees.
The sun was low in the sky when the driver announced Paradise was the next stop. It was a suitable name because it was a scenic place with all the trees and little white cottages. The sky was a mixture of blue and pink. The little white cottages glowed in the late afternoon sunlight. The creeks water sparkled as it snaked its way through the village. It was the main water source and villagers caught fresh fish daily. It was quiet now, but during the day it was bustling with activity. The sun set early in the evening when it disappeared behind the mountains. Would there be time to make it to her great uncles before sunset? As they pulled into the station, Anna gathered up her things brushed her unruly shoulder length hair and pulled it into a ponytail. She pulled out the photo of Patrick who was supposed to meet her. The face of an impish young man grinned at her. Well, at least she would be able to recognize him because it was a recent photo.
The bus depot looked deserted when Anna got off the bus. Anna swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat when she looked around. Where was Patrick? Had he forgotten? Anna was the only one getting off the bus at this isolated little hamlet, and within seconds the bus pulled out again. She strolled across the empty wooden platform towards the brown depot and went inside the homey little place. The heels on Anna’s boots clicked on the wide planks as she crossed the room towards the ticket wicket that appeared to be deserted.
An elderly man came out of the backroom. “Are you Anna Sage?”
(to be continued)