All the afternoon she walked until her feet were sore. She found the South Bay and walked along the sand, even venturing to take off her shoes and refresh her aching feet at the water’s edge. She bought herself tea and a cake at one of the many cafes along the beach. She window-shopped but didn’t buy. As evening approached Rose, thoroughly lost but not caring a jot, got directions back to her guest house. She snoozed in the lounge for a while, then read a few pages of her book. Feeling peckish she slipped out for fish and chips from the establishment on the corner then, worn out, she slept like a queen without a care in the world.
In the morning she paid the lady £30 to stay another night.
The Birmingham police scratched their heads. No one had seen Rose Hanley in three weeks. They had forced her door fearing the worst, but the house was empty. She had left no clues as to where she might have gone – no computer, documents, bank statements. There were no relatives enquiring after her – the Police had been alerted by a concerned neighbour. They reported the matter to the Missing Persons Bureau and put the file on the shelf.
Several months later the council boarded up the windows of 11 Knightly Road.
Rose would meet Ronnie most days. They used to frequent the same cafe on South Bay, one that stayed open all year round. Presently they got to talking, then they started making arrangements to meet elsewhere. The cinema, the theatre, dinner even. He was a shy sort and seemed pleased that this Brummie woman was so friendly and agreeable. Vague though, no doubt about it. She either didn’t remember much or chose not to divulge anything about herself. Either way she seemed happy and content, drawing her pension from the bank every week and making it last. The landlady, pleased now with her permanent guest, had given her a preferential rate.
Eventually they were spending most of their time together. The following summer he started taking her to the cricket when Yorkshire happened to be playing at Scarborough. One day Warwickshire were the opposition and Rose was happy to go along and read a book while Ronnie enjoyed the match. Behind them a few visiting supporters watched the game jovially, getting louder as the afternoon wore on and the lagers kicked in. Rose became strangely unsettled by the loud, broad accents. These were voices that she knew from the past, long ago. But from where? Where was she from?
Rose. Rosemary for remembrance.
The uneasy feeling drifted away on the soft breeze. The cricketers packed up for the day. The loud visitors headed for the pub. Rose and Ronnie, his arm around her shoulder, walked slowly and contentedly back into town.