“I love beginnings,” said Martha. “I love the feeling that I’m standing at a point in my life where anything can happen.”
Malcolm sat beside her, wondering what she meant. “Yes. I know exactly what you mean.”
“Did I mention that I went to university to study English literature?” asked Martha.
Malcolm edged closer to her, watching her lips as she spoke.
“No, you didn’t tell me that.” Malcolm thought about how it would feel to kiss those lips. “That sounds fascinating.”
“Oh, it was wonderful. I loved walking into a lecture theatre for the first time. Loved walking into the bookshop with a reading list and walking out with a stack of books I’d be learning all about. So exciting.”
“I can imagine. So when did you graduate?”
“Graduate?” Martha sounded startled at the idea. “Oh no, somehow that never happened. I got a few chapters into Wuthering Heights when I fell in love with it. I thought, I know what I want to do. I want to be a writer like Charlene Brontë. Or was it Emmy? Anyway, I realised I didn’t need to read all those books. I had my inspiration already. So I stopped going to lectures to write my own novel.”
Malcolm slipped an arm around her shoulders. “so you’ve written a novel? That’s exciting. That’s a real achievement.”
Martha didn’t pull away. This, Malcolm decided, was the girl for him.
“Yes it was exciting,” she said. “I suppose it would have been more of an achievement if I’d got past the first couple of chapters. But I met this man…well, I got distracted.”
Malcolm edged back to look at her, leaving his arm around her. “So you’re, uh, seeing someone?”
“No, no, it didn’t last long. It was exciting while it lasted. The sex was amazing.”
Malcolm wished she hadn’t mentioned that but decided that if she was single and enjoyed sex, the good news outweighed the bad.
“But, you know, excitement wears off and breaking up can be so hard,” said Martha. “It left me with writers’ block. I’ve never gone back to my novel. I feel I need some new beginning in my life.”
Martha laid her head on his shoulder.
Malcolm didn’t see at all, but the important thing was that she turned her face to his. It was no time to ask for clarification. Kissing her was as good as he had imagined it would be.
“Oh yes,” said Martha. “I do so love beginnings.”