Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014 -

A Slippering for Nathalie

by Paul Markham
Published: Jan 30, 2014
Words: 24,724
Category: general
Orientation: M/F
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A Slippering for Nathalie

Nathalie sat on the arm of the settee and gazed unseeingly at the stream of turgid trivia that appeared to have established itself as the standard pattern for Saturday evening 'entertainment' on the television. Half of her mind was numb with complete boredom, the other was frustrated at her apparent inability to shake herself out of a rut of admittedly very comfortable apathy away from her workplace - not that there was any chance of apathy even finding its way into the vocabulary of her working life, or that of any of her professional colleagues.

The pile of books on the shelf underneath her pc monitor, flanked by half-completed notes and sundry items of stationery of the type that so often decorate a work desk of that type, challenged her inertia, but without eliciting an effective response. For Nathalie, life away from the workplace had become like an afternoon out in the stifling airlessness of the African plains. She sipped mechanically at the mug of lukewarm tea in her hand before reaching for the remote control for the television, to see if it really was true that a change of visual dietary input could be refreshing. Apart from one advertisement that always brought a smile to her face, it was not and the ponderous burden of immobilising dullness crushed every last effort at climbing out of the rut. In fact, she was on the point of wondering if she was becoming depressed when her slow-moving thought processes were awoken with a jolt by a distinctive ringing tone from her mobile phone. She looked at the display and smiled half-heartedly to herself.

"Hi, Neil, wasn't expecting to hear from you. Thought you were away in the depths of Cornwall this week."

Despite the fact that she felt more comfortable with Neil than she had with anyone who shared her specific interests, she found it a great effort to muster the energy needed to inject some sparkle of life into her vocal tone, something that did not escape the notice of the caller.

"You sound listless and lethargic, Nathalie. Haven't you managed to kick-start yourself yet?"

Nathalie thought that her sigh had been inaudible, but she was mistaken.

"So, still bumping along on a slow train to nowhere, are you, Nat?"

There was genuine concern and interest in Neil's voice and this fanned a small ember in the pile of ashes that was obscuring Nathalie's vision of what needed to be done and could be done, if only she could shake herself out of her lethargy. A smile flickered across her interesting and kind young face, to which Neil had taken a great liking from the moment they had first met - to Nathalie's surprise and delight.

Nathalie's response was a barely audible grunt.

Neil's reply, in stark contrast, was characterised by a decisive and almost authoritative tone. "Well, Nathalie, I've had to postpone my trip to Cornwall until Tuesday, so I'm driving there on Monday, which leaves tonight and tomorrow free. Have you got a couple of hours free for a natter?"