Part (1) 22 July 2007
He turned away before I could reply. I watched him walk in the direction of the ancient monument which stood behind the railings that enclosed this part of the town. The monument was Roman with three pillars; one of them broken down to half its original height. Nyon was founded Julius Caesar in 52BC and flourished for two centuries. In the second half of the third century AD the colony was attacked by Alemans and Franks, who eventually broke through Roman defences. The stones from the ruined buildings were used to build a wall around Geneva. I’m drawn to ruins almost as much as mountains and lakes. Why did this unsavoury specimen of humanity have to hang about here? As I forced myself to sit down, I felt the cauldron of anger and irritation bubble up inside me. The spot had lost its charm because I was no longer able to enjoy it alone. It was too late to make a move. He had finished his cigarette and was walking back towards me.
‘Now we can talk,’ he said sitting down far too close. ‘You live in Nyon?’
‘No. I’m looking after my brother’s apartment while he and his family are away on holiday. I’m also feeding the cat.’
The question only required a ‘No’. There was no need to blab on about Leo or the cat. To leave England at this time had seemed to be the perfect solution to my predicament. I fell in love with Switzerland the previous year when Toby and I had spent the whole of August with Leo, Anna and the boys. These days, long holidays are one of the few perks of being a teacher. I was currently unemployed, having given in my notice when the relationship with Toby ended. One of us had to go and it was better if it was me as Toby loved his job. Not only did I have no job but I also had nowhere to live. There was no way that I was going to my parents where I’d have to face endless questions. Now I was being asked questioned by a perfect stranger.
‘I was here last summer.’ I said out loud.
‘You were happy then?’
My eyes met his and I thought what an absurd question from one who was so obviously unhappy himself. He was implying that I was unhappy now. What a cheek! I felt the tears start to prick my eyes. Anger and irritation were far better; emotions I could deal with. I was soon on my feet and walking away in the direction of what I called the aisle of ugly trees. The branches of these trees look like upturned roots and both they and the trunks are covered with grey splodges. I quickened my pace. The wind was behind me and blew my hair across my eyes. I could hear heavy footsteps speeding up behind me.