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Working away from home was an occupational hazard for Ewan. He had been a contractor for over 30 years and had lived in various cities throughout Europe. However, for the last 6 months he had been living and working in Newcastle, going home to Lancashire every weekend. The hotel room that had become his home for five days a week was clean and well furnished, the hotel staff were extremely friendly, and the meals were all good standard fayre.
It was early March, and the worst of the weather had been and gone, but as he woke to the alarm bleeping on his mobile phone he listened out for the sound of rain being blown against the window, but all he could hear was the occasional car passing. His contract was coming to an end, and he stayed under the covers a little bit longer that morning, contemplating what his future might bring. He did not want to go overseas again as his daughter had just given birth to his first grandchild, and his own health was not the best, he suffered from Glaucoma; which caused him difficulties when he was tired or stressed.
However it was a Friday, so he was only going to be working until midday, and then it was a train journey home that crossed the top of England, from Newcastle to Carlisle. It took him through some fantastic scenery, and he wished he could see more clearly and had done this contract during the summer months, maybe next time. He had a lot to do. He got out of bed and made his way to the shower room, but something was wrong, the room was more out of focus than usual. He instinctively checked he was wearing his glasses, and then carried on. As he showered he dismissed the problem, he was not unduly concerned.
After dressing and packing his bags for the journey home, he had to administer two sets of drops into his eyes. This had become second nature as he had been doing this procedure for nearly twenty years. He was not surprised that they stung more than usual as they generally did if he had only just got out of the shower. He listened to the BBC News as he waited for his eyes to settle down so that he felt safe to leave the room.
His breakfasted on fruit, toast and coffee; he was not one for a fried breakfast, While he was eating he felt a bit strange, but put that down to almost anything, too heavy or light on the drops, water in the eyes, tiredness, you name it, it was to blame. When he was finished he went back to his room to collect his bags and check that he had not forgotten anything. His final act before heading off to work was to pay the bill for the week. The owner reminded him a lot of a waitress from Northumberland who used to work in the pub he went to when he lived in Amsterdam; maybe they were related.
As he left the hotel he realized his cloudy vision had not gone away, but he carried on to the office. After sitting at his desk for about an hour Ewan decided enough was enough, something was wrong, maybe a headache was forming. He decided to get his timesheet signed and head home, he was only going to lose a couple of hours pay.
Getting used to his cloudier vision, he made his way to the local Metro station, and from there to the main Newcastle rail station. This involved going up some escalators, which was good news, he hated going down them, as he saw them as a silver slope and not individual steps. The station was not busy, and with thirty minutes to wait for the train he decided to get a coffee and a sandwich.
The first train on his journey would take him to Carlisle, where he usually had thirty minutes to wait to get a connecting train towards Lancaster. From the station in Lancaster it was only 15 minutes walk home, though this could take longer as he had to pass his local pub. As he walked the final mile home he decided that he was going to put his heating on, throw his clothes in the washing machine, and go to the pub. By the time he got home again the place would be warm, and the washing would be done.
As he was walking his vision was getting worse, but he put this down to dusk falling, tiredness and that it was time to put another set of drops in his eyes. As soon as he set foot in his apartment he cheered up, he got changed, put all of his dirty clothes from the past week into the machine, checked that the heating was on,and then walked back to the pub. He knew who would be working behind the bar, a girl he had known for years, as she used to go to school with his daughter.
He could find his way to the pub blindfold, there was only one road to cross and then into the bar and onto a barstool, which was either already in position, or Jessica would go and get one for him, positioning it so they could have a chat when things got quiet.
As he walked in, the cheery Jes called out “Hi Gramps, you’re home then” to which he made his usual retort, saying that no, he was still on the train.
Jes brought his beer over and placed it in front of him. As he looked up and prepared to pay, Jes saw that his right eye was full of blood. He looked toward where she was standing and said in a quiet, but frightened, voice “Jes, pet, I can’t see you”.
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