Thetford. Thetford. Thetford… I scanned the departure information. Ah, Thetford! Coach 409. Gate 19. Perfect. I pulled my red suitcase behind me and followed the signs to Gate 19.
I took my block of a phone out of my coat pocket. 2:13.
“Hi, um, are you Alyssa?” A girl with long black hair and black leather boots asked me.
“Yeah, I was just texting you.
“So are you excited for this?” The girl, Euna, asked me.
“Yes, I’m so excited! From her emails Mary just sounds like the sweetest old woman in the world!”
I was on my way to the house of Mary Watkins, an English woman who has one dog, cats, and chickens. Her husband is away traveling (I later learned that he has been gone since April and had yet to set a date for his return.)
We were on the coach for hours. Traffic was thick on our way out of London, and we arrived in Thetford until a couple of hours late. Mary was at the coach park waiting for us
It was dark when we pulled up to Mary’s house. A sign reading “Ye Olde Forge” hung over the door. I took my suitcase out of the car trunk (or boot, as Mary called it), walked the skinny path to the house, and ducked into the house.
The door opened into the kitchen. Witch dolls and cooking tools (that looked a little bit like torture instruments) hung from the wooden beams across the ceiling. Tins, oriental ornaments, and dishes cluttered every surface.
The entire house felt like a friendly witch’s cottage. Over the fireplace in the back room of the house are gardening tools and weapons from Papua New Guinea. On the shelves laid a Chinese ship tipped on its side, warrior figurines, and other trinkets from Australia, Singapore, and China.
I spent much of my weekend in this room. As I sat on the floor beside the fire with some George Orwell, Mary’s dog, Bugsy, brought her orange and black rope to me. Bugsy is not a puppy. Bugsy is about 14 years old so we didn’t play for long until she needed a nap. After a quick snooze, Bugsy was back with her rope.
Mary knitted. Euna read National Geographics. I poked the fire back to life. And so our weekend went on.