Go­ing, Go­ing, Gone

As each lot passed, Ben’s con­fi­dence grew. This was fun!

The People's Friend - - Short Story By Katie Ashmore -

DAVID was the last per­son Rachel had ex­pected to see at the auc­tion rooms. “What are you do­ing here?” she cried.

“I saw the paint­ing on­line. It brought back mem­o­ries of our time to­gether. I was com­ing over on busi­ness so I thought . . .” He looked in her eyes. “Can we talk?” Rachel was still shocked. “Not now.” She looked round for Martin, but he wasn’t there. “I’m meet­ing some­one for lunch.” David frowned.

“Can you put them off? I’ve come all this way.”

Rachel knew Martin wouldn’t mind if they took a raincheck. They weren’t do­ing any­thing spe­cial. “I’ll see what I can do.” She went to Carol. “Have you seen Martin? He was sup­posed to meet me here at one o’clock.”

“He’s had to go out. He didn’t say where. Sorry.”

“Oh.” Rachel won­dered why he hadn’t texted her. She re­turned to David. “It seems I’m free. There’s a cof­fee shop round the cor­ner. We can talk there.”

“You look ex­actly the same,” David said as they walked down the street.

“I doubt that, but thanks. So, this is a sur­prise! It’s been years.”

“Like I said, I was com­ing over on busi­ness. But be­fore I left I was brows­ing auc­tions on­line – it’s a bit of a hobby now. I saw the paint­ing I gave you. It was a shock, you know. I thought you’d keep it for ever.” “I did, too,” she said. “How are things at home? Is your dad any bet­ter?”

“He died soon af­ter you left. And I lost Mum last year, too.”

“I’m sorry.”

Rachel nod­ded. “Thanks. It was hard, but it’s true what peo­ple say – time re­ally does make a dif­fer­ence.”

“How’s your sis­ter – Ju­lia? Still in Chicago?”

“It’s Julie,” she cor­rected him. “She’s fine.”

At the café, David found a ta­ble for them.

“I’ve missed you, Rachel,” he said.

She wasn’t sure how to an­swer. At first, she’d missed him so much it hurt. She’d al­most changed her mind and gone af­ter him, but her love for her par­ents had kept her at home.

As weeks turned into months, her bro­ken heart grad­u­ally mended. Now, she rarely thought about him at all. Not even when she looked at the paint­ing.

“I did miss you,” she said, “but I’ve moved on. In fact, I’ve met some­one.” She told him about Martin. David wasn’t im­pressed. “If he works for a place like that, he can’t be mak­ing much money. It’s hardly Sotheby’s, is it?”

Rachel bris­tled. David had al­ways been a snob.

“Martin says the same, but he loves work­ing there. To him, be­ing happy in your work is more im­por­tant than a big salary.” David frowned. “When I gave you that paint­ing I didn’t ex­pect you to sell it to the high­est bid­der five min­utes later.”

His tone was teas­ing, but Rachel knew that un­der­neath he was se­ri­ous.

“Hardly five min­utes, David,” she snapped.

“Well, I hope I can make the buyer an of­fer and get it back. It would mean such a lot to me.” He reached for her hand. “As you still do.” Rachel pulled away. “It’s too late.” She stood up. “This was a bad idea.”

****

“Ben, I need a favour. A man’s ask­ing about the Pel­ham pup­pets. Can you

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