Chapter 3

I'd better get this updated before I forget it all. I'm determined to keep all this written down - last Sunday's already beginning to seem like a dream.
So I'd decided (foolish or not? You decide!) to trust Finn. The dog seemed to and stupid tho he might be, Pooch wasn't usually that comfortable with strangers. Maybe not complete strangers, tho - there was something about Finn that seemed familiar, as if I'd met him before.

I knew that I couldn't have - living in the country and not not even going out to school means that you notice when you meet new people and I was damn sure that I'd have noticed Finn. I mean, come onnnnnnn, people! Ok, so he's not tall, dark and handsome, but tall, pale and interesting does me just fine...

Anyhoo. So, I sat down on the scraggy sofa - it was the only option that didn't involve plonking myself right next to him and I was still at the stage where I figured that having a table between might be a prudent move. Pooch opened one eye a fraction as I moved and gave me a lazy look as if to say "Oh hello you, joined us finally?" like the illmannered toad that he is. Humph.

So there's me, Lily, sitting opposite Finn, eek, and he's just looking at me. Not staring, just, well, looking. Like it's the most comfortable situation in the whole world. I didn't know what to say and I was feeling more than a bit self conscious, so I occupied myself with gazing around the inside of the caravan.
Now that my eyes had adjusted to the gloom I could see that it had once been a beautiful place. The sofas were battered and threadbare but the fabric had obviously started life a beautifully textured rich red and the cushions were once squishy and comfortable. There were throws over the back and sides and what looked suspiciously like a fox fur hanging off the end of the sofa that Finn was so casually sprawled out on.

A dusty lamp hung over the table, looking as if it hadn't been lit for years. In fact it looked very much like one of those old oil lamps you see in people's houses when they're trying to look all vintage and bohemian. Tatty and cheap, more like.

There was a dresser of some sort in the corner - I couldn't see it properly in the dim light. It occurred to me that it must be getting dark outside and that surely Finn must light the lamp at least occasionally?
He interrupted my daydreaming with a cough - definitely an attention seeking one rather than a sign of a dodgy chest, I reckoned. He was still smiling at me when I looked up and I couldn't help speaking a bit sharply.

"Yes? I'm not that interesting, surely?" Unless he was just laughing at me. Maybe that was it. "You do realise that I'm expecting you to explain all this to me at some point soon?"

Can you believe it, the bastard starting laughing. And it was definitely looking like being at me rather than with me. How bloody dare he.

"Oh Lily, you do look sweet when you're angry," he snorted. Sweet? I'd give him bloody sweet! I stood up ready to storm out, but he was quicker than me and before I knew it he was round my side of the table with one hand on my arm.
Not exactly holding me back, but not showing any sign of wanting to let me leave, either. Weirdly, I wasn't scared.

Finn sat down heavily on the sofa (huge puffs of dust came up round him, he really needs to clean those bloody cushions) and patted the space next to him encouragingly. I stood where I was, glaring.

"Oh come on, you know I'm not here to hurt you" he said, and do you know, I would swear on anything you cared to put before me that he was telling the truth. Somehow I really did feel safe with him, with this man that I'd met for the first time only minutes before. Minutes that seemed like hours, mind you.
And how come he felt so familiar? So many things just aren't right with all this, you know. Weren't right. Ohhhh I don't know, I'm so confused that I can't even write my own diary without confusing my tenses. And there's my mum so proud of how well she's taught me...

So very, very weird. And there's only so much bizarre stuff that anyone can take in one day before the brain goes 'whoooooah there lady, shut down is imminent' and you have to start thinking about what shoes would go with those new stripey tights or summat, just to calm things

"I'm leaving." There. See, Mr Gorgeous, I am a Free Woman. "And the dog's coming with me". Just in case he was harbouring dognapping thoughts.
Ok so I'm not that keen on Pooch, but, y'know, he's the family dog and my brother would yell if he disappeared and I really didn't think the parents would go for the 'oh yeah well I left him with this stranger up at the woods, he lives in a rotten dusty caravan that's been there for years but noone's ever seen it before and he's rather tasty and no, I have no idea who he is, yes I went into his caravan, yes, I am evidently brainless' blah blah...

Finn didn't even raise an eyebrow. Didn't even look bloody sorry for annoying me. Just sat there with his hand still on the space where he'd wanted me to sit, with a half smile on his face. I could nearly have hated him at that moment.

"You'll come and see me again." A statement.

"Yes, of course". Eh?? What was I saying? Why did I say that? What happened to my life, did someone come along and suck the Normal out whilst I was asleep???

But I knew I would.

"Yes, next Sunday". I knew I wouldn't be able to make it before then - I'd agreed to meet my friend Rachel on a couple of the days (she lives in the village but her mum drives her to the nearest town for school. I rely on her for gossip to keep me sane) and we had to visit my gran on another day. Also I needed to have some time on my own to get my head round all this.

Seemingly aware that we were leaving, Pooch lumbered up from his place on the rug and came round to join me by the caravan door - managing to detour past Finn to get his ears scratched on the way, I noticed.

I didn't know what else to say, so I sort of raised my hand to Finn as a goodbye. He raised his in return, still smiling at me. I half-jumped down the rotting caravan steps and headed towards the path, Pooch following close behind.
When we got to the path I looked back - I honestly half-expected the van to have disappeared, to have just been a figment of my (admittedly overactive) imagination. But no, it was still there, and I could see the faint flickering of light from the stove through the cracked panes of the side window.

I looked at my watch, wondering how long I'd been with Finn. Now, this is the weird bit. Well, it's weirder than the rest of it, if you can believe that. I obviously didn't know the precise time that I'd gone into the caravan, but there was a family walking past as I got to the path and they sounded just like the family that I'd heard before I'd met Finn. The kids certainly had the same names and the mum had the same whining nasal voice, anyway. And looking at the sky, it didn't seem any later or darker than it had when I'd set out down the path in the first place.

In fact, everything pointed to me having 'lost', at most, about three minutes. Only I'd been in that van for at least twenty. So what the bloody hell happened???

I stalked off home, checking back once to see if the caravan was still there. It was. At which point I got creeped out and ran the rest of the way, yelling at Pooch for not keeping up with me.

So yeah - that's it. So far. I've had the week to think about it and I'm no wiser than I was when I started writing this whole thing up in the first place. And I'm beginning to think that maybe I sat down to wait for Pooch and just kind of nodded off, or something. Maybe the caravan is just an old wreck that's been dumped there and my subconscious picked up on it whilst I was half asleep.

Well I'll find out tomorrow. Because it's Sunday. And either there'll be nothing there but a whole heap of rotten timber and the remains of my dignity, or there'll be Finn. Waiting for me.

And I know which one I want it to be...

L x


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