It wasn’t unusual for Cynthia to awake at three and spend an hour wondering why she couldn’t get back to sleep.  It was hot and Cynthia was a lady who had reached that age where one’s body constantly chooses to remind one of one’s sell-by date.  Quite often this happened at inopportune moments.  So she had developed small habits to try and reduce the embarrassment of these attacks of hot flushes.  In the supermarket she would loiter by the freezer section for a while before proceeding to the check-out.  At home she kept ice cubes in the freezer.  It wasn’t easy talking with an ice-cube in your mouth but the milkman didn’t appear to notice.

Nobody seemed to notice either when Cynthia slept through her alarm clock that Tuesday morning.  Having woken at three and lain awake listening to the clock until it felt like it was ticking in time with her own heart Cynthia had finally given in.   There was a box of orange ice-lollies in the freezer and she only had one hundred pages of Cynthia’s Diary left to read.  In a way she didn’t want to finish the book.  But it was something to do and it might take her mind off the suffocating heat.  

Much later that day Cynthia returned the book to the library.  It wasn’t the usual lady who served her and they didn’t talk about the weather.  “Ah, yes, Cynthia’s Diary.  I think we must have an envelope here for you somewhere,” she was saying as she scanned the book into the computer.  She handed Cynthia a small manila envelope.  Cynthia was puzzled.  Had she forgotten to return a book?  Was it a fine?  Was she blushing or hot flushing?  The lady behind the counter hadn’t noticed Cynthia’s change in complexion.  She was more concerned by the sudden change in the light.  “Looks like we’re in for a storm!” she announced to the library whilst clicking to close down the computer in front of her.  Cynthia scurried out of the library through the door which had been propped open to let the heat out and any breeze in.  Her sandals were rubbing the backs of her heels and beads of sweat were forming on her top lip.  The air was tense and the humidity unbearable.  By the time she had made the short dash to the car park her feet were swimming in inches of running water.  As quick as the heavens had opened they closed again.  Cynthia had had nowhere to shelter.  By the time she had reached the car she had decided that she couldn’t go to the Co-op looking like this.  There was a bit of left over salad in the fridge and probably a tin of tuna fish at the back of a cupboard.  Her legs were spattered and her clothes were wringing wet.   Her hair was plastered to her face and her top clung to her like an old cellophane wrapper sticks to a soggy lemon sherbet.  

Inside the car the windows and mirror steamed up.  Drips of water fizzed on the hot dashboard.  The seat felt soggy.  By the time Cynthia arrived home she had gone beyond feeling uncomfortable.  The tarmac was steaming and the flags were bone dry.  Cynthia couldn’t stop smiling.  Standing in front of the full length mirror at the bottom of the stairs she laughed out loud.  She giggled until she cried.  In all the excitement, Cynthia had forgotten all about the small brown envelope she had shoved inside her Mills & Boon library book to protect it from the rain.  The book was laid out carefully on the kitchen table on top of sheets of kitchen paper.  Her sandals were lined up on the door mat behind the back door.

The next day Cynthia placed the damp library book outside in the sun next to her soggy sandals.  The storm had broken the build up of heat and tension.  The sky was blue.  The sun was shining.  Cynthia had a full line of washing drying on the line.  Dropping an ice cube into a glass of water straight from the tap she decided to indulge in five minutes of nothing in the sun lounger on the patio in the back garden.  That was when her gaze fell on something brown poking out from the pages of the book from the library.  Her pulse quickened.  What was there to be afraid of?

There was no writing on the outside of the envelope.  Cynthia wondered how the librarian had known to give it to her?  The envelope was still slightly damp and came apart easily without any noise.  Inside was a single sheet of Basildon Bond writing paper folded in three.

Dear reader

Thank you for your interest in Cynthia’s Diary.  To be part of the next chapter you will need to visit the library again.  You will find the book you are looking for in the “Travel” section.  It is called There and back in a day.

Enjoy the journey!

Dear Reader - this has been an experiment in writing ...  Thank you for your participation. I now know who Cynthia is and where she is going.  Now all I have to do is to write the story ...

BAcK ...