By H.St Vincent Beechey

‘It’s time to move on’ said Bonnie. We had spent a week in the Swiss hotel, but to me, it already seemed like home. That’s the funny thing about travelling. I hate moving, but once I have settled into a place it feels as though I have been there for years and I hate moving on. This time especially. This was where I had got to know Bonnie, the new Bonnie who had revealed to me delights I’d never dared imagine. I was still reeling from the shock of her transformation.

‘Must we?’ I protested. ‘It is nice here. I’ve got used to it. I know the way to your room and everything. Besides I’ve got my computer set up and I’ve managed to get onto the net via my mobile.’

‘Sorry,’ said Bonnie, reverting to ogre mode. ‘We have bookings in Liechtenstein for three days and then it’s on to Salzburg. You did insist on Salzburg.’

‘But Bonnie…’

‘No buts. I want you to get your stuff packed up and ready for the taxi at nine o’clock tomorrow morning. I’ll see you at breakfast downstairs at eight.’

‘You don’t want to stay?’

She softened for a moment and caressed my cheek, ‘No, you’ll need a good night’s sleep.’ Then, once again Miss Efficiency, she said: ‘Do your packing, there’s a good boy,’ and left me still trying to think of a reply. I did, of course, but by then it was too late. I did my packing.

Once again on the train, my spirits lifted, and I spent my time craning my neck to look at the mountains. Once we passed a valley running at right-angles to the track, and I glimpsed little houses in the distance with their red roofs steeply sloping to throw off the winter snow. A sudden thought struck me, and I wanted to share it.

‘Bonnie, Those houses, that little village. Do you think it will still be there tomorrow? Even when we are not there to look at it.’

‘Sometimes, Charlie, I think that you are a very strange man.’

But the thought of that little village existing oblivious to my existence was oddly troubling. And it would carry on, minding its own business, never knowing I had seen it.

‘For goodness sake, Charlie, sit down.’ Her tone was almost sharp.

Besotted though I was, a feeling of rebellion stirred, and I frowned at her. For a moment she stared back, and then the professional conciliator’s smile reappeared.

‘I’m sure you’ll be more comfortable sitting down. We still have a long way to go. Why don’t you read up on Liechtenstein, I have some brochures here.’ She thrust something into my hands.

I was tempted to pursue the matter, (what matter? my independence?) but I hadn’t read anything for a couple of hours so I couldn’t resist glancing through the leaflet. It was very interesting. Did you know they didn’t give women the vote until 1986? I had a feeling I would like Liechtenstein.

It was late when we reached the hotel. Heavy rain sleeted down obliquely, drenching us even beneath the awning over the entrance. A doorman rushed forward with a large umbrella, gallantly shielding Bonnie. I paid the taxi. Luckily, the country’s currency is Swiss francs, and I had acquired a pocketful during the previous week.

Inside, we went through the tiresome formalities of registration and passports. It turned out that Bonnie’s room was on a different floor from mine. The luggage had to be sorted out, and I stood to one side like a spare appendage, clasping my precious computer. Bonnie’s, I saw, lay among her other cases looking small and forlorn. I felt protective towards it and made to pick it up.

‘The boy will see to that, Charlie. You had better get up to your room and change out of those wet clothes.’

Servants rushed forward to carry our bags, and we became separated. I followed my guide to my small suite.

As I tried to find clean clothes among the jumble I had stuffed into my bags that morning, I asked myself: Whose bloody world trip is this, anyway.

Good Question!


© Copyright H.St V.Beechey August 1996


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