Picking up the post, I pulled my suitcase into the hall. Amongst the usual bills, I noticed the letter I’d been waiting for and hid it in my pocket. I sank into the settee in the living room.
‘How lovely to be home,’ I murmured.
Martin didn’t hear me – he was already in the garden checking his plants. He waved through the French windows, encouraging me to come out and look at the new buds on his roses.
‘The garden’s looking fabulous,’ I said as I stepped outside and sat down near him on the garden bench.
‘Doesn’t an English garden smell wonderful?’ he said, sitting down and kissing me on the cheek.
‘Home smells divine – but I love going abroad, too. Croatia was amazing.’
‘Brilliant! One of the best trips we’ve had so far,’ Martin agreed, admiring our holiday snaps as I flashed some of them up on my phone.
It was the first time we’d been to Croatia. We had walked the walls of the beautiful, medieval city of Dubrovnik, followed by a few days on the island of Korcula where we swam and sunbathed. Then we travelled on to Split to explore its history and enjoy the wonderful restaurants.
‘Right, I’m going to mow that lawn before it gets dark.’ Martin said.
I watched him as he walked to the shed and couldn’t help noticing how handsome he was looking. We had walked miles every day while away and had built in some snorkelling excursions so we were both fit and tanned.
I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and, as the kettle boiled, I took the letter out of my pocket and carefully opened it. It was from the teacher pension company, explaining how to plan my retirement.
I had spoken to a very helpful adviser on the phone before we had gone on holiday. I had even completed the online form to start the process, but, although my finger had hovered over the ‘submit’ button, I couldn’t bring myself to press it.
Secretly, I was wondering if I was doing the right thing and had written to the company to play for time.
I was approaching my 55th birthday and had told Martin that I was going to retire. He was delighted, of course, because he had persuaded me to do it. He had retired six months previously and wanted me to join him.
‘We can have fun without you worrying about work!’ he kept saying.
It was true that we were looking forward to the day when we could travel together any time of the year we liked, go out on a school night, drop everything to go to a last minute activity or plan to buy tickets for sporting events. Wimbledon was something I had always wanted to go to; Martin was keen on going to Glastonbury for our first time. We knew we had a better chance of doing all these things if I had no work commitments. But now that I had seen the ‘submit’ button on the pension website, I was having slightly different thoughts.
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