8. II i
Jack had spent all of his time camping thinking of Lizzie. He'd then spent most of his time on the journey home thinking about her. He spent some of the remaining holiday thinking of her. By the time, though, the new school year approached, she had become but a flicker of a memory, a dim candle struggling in vain for the attentions of a now eleven year old boy. For Lizzie's part, the flame burned a little brighter: she had far less to distract herself with. Denied interaction with others her own age, she passed the remainder of her summer alone on the swing, at the lake, and in the woods, imagining what it would be like to have such a friend as Jack as a constant force in her life. It was a welcome fancy.
Whilst the flame burned brighter with Lizzie than Jack, the truth is that within a month or two after their fleeting encounter, the two had relegated the meeting to history.
So it was that Jack found himself once more on the road to Wales - almost exactly one year later - having not thought of Lizzie for several months. Several months seem an age to boys of his age, and so when he saw a sign for a hotel at Tal-Y-Ilyn lake at the roadside, the memories stirred in him were as distant and as faded as those summoned by the elderly looking decades into their past. Distant, faded, but strong and warming. Jack stirred to speak for the first time in the whole journey, and his request that they stop somewhere for a drink took his parents by something of a surprise.
"We're not too far away now - you can wait," was his father's curt reply.
"Oh come on - I'm thirsty!"
There was no response.
After a while, Jack tried again.
"We could go back to that hotel, the one we visited last year. We could get a pot of tea and sit by the lake..."
His parents shared a knowing smile, before - after a teasing delay - agreeing.