Call of the Wild

Madness, perhaps, to rent a flat sight unseen, though it couldn’t be all that uncommon. Aberdeenshire was too far for her to have come down flat-hunting at weekends. Madness for sure to rent one she couldn’t afford on her salary. More than a lifetime of beans on toast, it would demand a second job. A view of the freshwater lake in the heart of the City.

‘But worth it,’ she whispered as she crammed into the Tube, changed lines, and changed again.

And the name. It was the name that she’d fallen in love with. Canada Water.

The summer she was ten, her parents, about to divorce, hadn’t any idea what to do with her so sent her off to summer camp in the middle of nowhere, Ontario. She’d wanted to be angry, but it had taken her all of a day to fall in love. Sailing, canoeing, windsurfing. Meals cooked over a campfire, eaten outdoors. Beavers, moose, and once, a bear. But it was the swimming she’d loved the most.  The feel of the water against her skin; warm and soft and utterly unlike the North Sea.

A view of the freshwater lake.

Already she could smell balsam and blue spruce, feel the sun on her shoulders, hear chattering squirrels. She had a brand new swimsuit for the day, planned to skinny dip at night, slipping into the lake undercover of some nocturnal animal’s mating song.

And here she was. She took a deep breath and picked up her bags, walked through the station’s light-filled exit to her new home.

Had she realised then that would be her last moment of hope, of true excitement, for so many months, she would have walked more slowly, savoured more deeply the childhood memories fuelling her mad fantasy.

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