“I suppose I could spend time looking around this vast country if there were some other reasons to do so now that my genealogy research has reached a dead-end.” Anya searched his face for a reaction.
He brightened immediately. “My long service leave is due from government employment, but I’ve been putting it off for some time wanting to accumulate more time thinking about the possibility of exploring Australia myself. If I can arrange that I wonder if Anya Dennis would delay her return home to Dublin to explore the country with me? Perhaps Anya Dennis might fall in love with this country as she travelled around and want to make this country her home in future though I know her heart is bound to beloved Ireland.”
Anya paused eating and stared at the table. This relationship was moving too quickly, and she needed to think carefully before committing herself. She had a job to go to in Dublin she enjoyed immensely. It had allowed her to see several cultures firsthand and meet a lot of people. Somehow, she didn’t see herself as a housewife sitting at home and the thought of being married with children flashed into her mind making her recoil. She sighed and looked up, it was time to give this man some of her background and that would probably kill his interest in her. No harm done doing that as she’d leave the country and it wouldn’t matter if he shared her secrets with others she’d never meet again.
“Alan its obvious you have a special interest in me and yet we have only known each other a few days so in fairness to you I’m going to disclose some information about myself that may change your thinking. The sophisticated Dublin woman you see now was once a teenage village girl physically abused by her father and abused in a way I don’t want to mention by her uncles who she hated. This village girl escaped her village one day by hiding in a load of vegetables in a truck heading for markets in Dublin. She was homeless robbing for her food daily and met a woman shopping in the market who took pity on her and took her in as a maid. The family eventually began to look on her as a daughter and cared for her needs and educated her. They were in real estate and trained this girl in the business.
I trust my adopted parents but have a problem trusting any other man. I have slapped men over their attempts to use me as memories of my uncles comes to mind each time a man shows an interest in me. I have a different impression about you in just the short time I’ve known you, but this professional woman you see is a dysfunctional mess inside. So, this is crunch time in our relationship. You would be better served setting your affections on someone else Alan and perhaps you may wish to write me off after this meal today.”
Alan was initially stunned, and anger began to replace it. He was not angry with her but at the events that had shaped her life. He involuntarily reached over the table to grasp her hand in sympathy, and she looked up in surprise to see concern in his eyes. He spoke softly.
“Anya I’m so sorry for the hurt you’ve carried with you all these years. I want to be your rock to fall back on. Thank you for showing so much confidence in me to disclose the injustices you’ve suffered and the fears you have in relationship with men. I can assure you I’m not like those men you fear. I want to spend the rest of my life being there for you and I’ll never make any moves on you that feed that fear. I can wait for you to trust me for as long as it takes but it would be unbearable for me now if you decide its just too hard and want to take a plane back to Dublin. I haven’t seen much of Australia, and it would be wonderful to have you as a companion until your visa runs out and I promise you I would not touch you during that time if that’s what you want. During our travel together perhaps, we could discuss a more permanent relationship if you decide you could trust me to care for you for the rest of our lives. Can you trust me enough for us to see Australia together?”
Anya shed tears silently as Alan spoke. An overwhelming feeling of peace came over her as she realized this man did not judge her and loved her enough not to push her. Could he be her rock? But her intellect flashed warning signals. How could she be sure he was genuine. If she could put on her professional act when she felt so differently inside, could he be doing the same. He looked genuine. He continued to hold her hand reassuringly.
“Finish your food Anya, I think we need to go hiking up in the mountains where you can breathe some fresh air and you may feel better. Lack of proper sleep patterns can be depressing.”
Anya smiled and returned to her meal. They sat in silence while they finished then Alan went to the kitchen to thank his friends Conor and Mary, Anya followed him and paid her respects. Mary appraised her and took her hand. “I think you need to freshen up after the meal Anya, come on upstairs you can use my dressing room.” She pulled her protesting up the stairs. At the top Mary turned to face her. She removed a tissue from the table and wiped Anya’s eyes.
“Let me give you advice as one Dublin girl to another. This man is a keeper. The Irish girls have been attempting to capture him for as long as I can remember but he was obviously looking for the right woman. It’s clear to me he found that woman in you and knowing him as I do, I thoroughly recommend you consider him as the one for you. When Conor asked me to marry him, I hesitated as my family and friends were all in Dublin but I’m glad I said yes as people have been so good to me here and while I’ll always love the Emerald Isle my home is here now. You can count me as your first close friend here.”
“Thank you, Mary that means a lot. I do have to give it careful thought though.” Mary pushed her in the direction of the stairs, and they re-joined Conor and Alan.
Alan’s face lit up as he saw Anya reappear and Mary gave Conor a knowing smile.
“Ready for the hike now Anya.”
“Do you think you can keep up with me on the paths Alan?” They all laughed as Conor and Mary waved them off and they sped toward the mountains in their car.
Anya loved the smell of the eucalypts as they hiked through mountain paths. The beauty of the huge sandstone blocks jutting out of the sides of the mountains and tiny creatures that scurried across their path as they entered deep into scrubland. After two hours of hiking, they realized water was beginning to be depleted from the backpack Alan had bought with him and they headed back to the parking lot feeling thirsty and hungry.
They’d almost reached the exit when Anya tripped over some stones and fell hurting her ankle. She cried out involuntarily in pain. Alan scooped her up and carried her to the car effortlessly. Anya realized in surprise her mind and body didn’t react negatively to his action and she felt safe in his arms. At the car he sat her in the passenger seat and removed her shoe examining for an injury that would require a doctor’s help. He concluded it was not sprained but there may be bruising. He carefully replaced her shoe and drove further up the mountain to a restaurant built overlooking a giant chasm. Reaching there Alan came around to open the passenger door and watched as Anya climbed out. Seeing her having difficulty and with a decided limp he got her to put her arm over his shoulder and helped her into the restaurant asking for a place by the plate glass wall overlooking the chasm. Anya thanked him for his help. She was becoming more comfortable with this man and welcomed his attentions now.
They ordered from the menu and sat in silence looking out over the glorious scenery. Finally, Anya spoke.
“Well Alan. After learning about my dysfunctional childhood and knowing that at one point of my life I was a thief. What is your opinion of me now?” In her nervousness she forced herself to laugh.
“Anya I fully understand why you did what you did. I’m grateful to those people who rescued you and made you into the woman you are today and I’m more determined than ever to get you to like me over time. I’m sad you must go back to Dublin but hope you come back to me in time, and it will be awful being separated from you now.”
They were both silent again waiting for their meal order to arrive and appreciating the view through the window.
Anya spoke again. I’ll be happy to join you in a trip around Australia Alan if you’ll still have me.”
“I’ll work on getting my long service leave approved this week and we should be able to start out a week from now. It will be new to me so we will discover the whole of the country together. Unfortunately, that means I’ll be working long hours during the week, and I can’t bear the thought not being with you now. If you let me, I could keep in contact with you by phone. I’ll have to make arrangements for our travel. What would you like to include in our travel discoveries?”
“Alan, you can visit me at the Ibis any time of the day you happen to be off work just phone and let me know. I have a suggestion though. I get professional courtesies with the Zenith Travel group so you may consider booking through them. I’ll phone Janet Farnsworth at Zenith Travels and tell her you will be contacting her on my behalf that way we get discounted travel and save a lot of money. She will charge me, and you can pay me for your share. Oh, I’m happy for you to make decisions on what we will see in the time available there’s just one place I’m curious about. I’m told there’s a place called Coober Pedy out in the desert where residents live in caves underground and they mine for opals. I’d like to buy some. Is it true that the aboriginal name Coober Pedy means white man in a hole?” Anya took out her purse and removed a note pad and pen writing contact information then handed it to Alan.
By the time they reached the Ibis the afternoon had passed. Alan asked if she needed help getting to her room as he’d noticed Anya was not limping badly now. She quickly indicated she thought she needed help and started limping again to confirm this. Alan smiled to himself; he was making progress it seemed. He put his arm around her and helped her to the desk to collect her room key then shepherded her to her room and she invited him in. He noticed the limp seemed to disappear as she busied herself around the room.
“Did you want me to take you to a restaurant this evening Anya?”
She shook her head. “I’m not hungry now but will you stay with me and watch TV then when we’re hungry, we can have food bought to the motel. I know you must leave early because you have a heavy week at immigration before you can arrange for your long service leave. Will you be able to make the arrangements with Zenith as they are only open between 9am and 7pm during the week. Not sure of the timings on the weekend.”
“I’ll work on an itinerary in the evenings and find time during my lunch break to communicate with Janet. When all the tickets are in place would you be able to collect them from Janet or how will she be able to get them to you otherwise?”
“No problem. You arrange everything and I’ll finalize with Janet and collect the itinerary and tickets from her as soon as she has them ready.”
After they’d watched TV for two hours, they ordered an evening meal and enjoyed eating together then Alan bid her a reluctant goodbye.
To be continued
© Copyright 2022 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved