"The Day Before You Came"
If only I’d known, Serena thinks, hurrying around the house tidying up, that she was coming.
Because it was just a normal day for her – spent out among the rows and rows of vines laden with reddening grapes, pruning – until Bernie phoned. For weeks now she’s been longing for Bernie’s presence beside her – or at least there when she gets back at the end of the day – with every step, every snip. She’s not ready to go back yet, but she is ready to be with Bernie. They’ve talked about Bernie coming to visit but only ever in the abstract, as something that will happen at some unspecified point in the future.
And now, all of a sudden, it’s not abstract and unspecified but real and concrete and tomorrow. And Serena is anxious. Because what if she’s changed too much, in her absence? What is Bernie’s changed too much in her absence? What if they don’t fit any more, if she’s too much or not enough for Bernie?
They keep her awake most of the night, these what ifs, despite how tiring the lingering cloud of grief and depression is when combined with the hard work of tending the vines.
Luc told her to take the day off. Serena finally falls asleep just as the sun starts to peek above the horizon, dozes for a few hours and then flits around the house, too nervous and excited to eat or settle to anything. She walks to the market and restocks the kitchen then joins the others for lunch, lets them ply her with bread and cheese and tomatoes, joins them in the vineyard and finds her trembling hands still when she has a pair of secateurs in them, surgeon’s instinct kicking in when faced with a sharp blade.
They all know who Bernie is to her by now, who Bernie was to her, who she hopes she still is; Bernie is what she talks about the most, she’s never been so effusive about a lover before, never been able to stop herself talking about anyone like this. So they all know how important today is, all wish her luck with a warm look or a hand on her shoulder when she leaves. She showers and tidies herself up, then borrows Luc’s little blue Citroen to drive into town.
She’s early, of course, sits in the car for ten long minutes with her eyes closed and her hands clasped so tight her knuckles whiten. Takes a deep breath and gets out when it’s not ridiculously early to be stood on the platform waiting.
She berates herself for being so nervous because it’s Bernie, and her heart still burns with love for her. Because Bernie is running towards her, and she knows she’s the only person Bernie has ever run towards.
Their eyes meet, and Serena feels like she’s in Brief Encounter but with added commuters and no steam. The smile that lights Bernie’s face is the brightest thing she’s ever seen.