Fiction

On a Walking Tour (short fiction)

‘Yikes,’ Shelly muttered under her breath.

She was standing among a group of strangers, ready to begin a walking tour of Melbourne’s laneways. The tour guide had just explained his First Aid qualifications, and that the group would only use designated pedestrian crossings when crossing major streets. Shelly made eye contact with the couple from France, standing beside her. The woman smiled timidly at Shelly, who then grinned back at her and rolled her eyes.

‘Overkill with the safety lessons, I reckon,’ Shelly whispered, leaning closer to the woman. She received only a furrowed brow in reply.

As she thought more about it, Shelly supposed that the tour guide company had to anticipate any sort of disaster. Surely the death of, or injury to a paying customer, a tourist to the city, would be an epic disaster. Something they would wish to avoid. But still, she was capable of safely making her way from one side of a street to the other.

‘What’s gone wrong in the world now that tour guides have to be responsible for the safety of competent adults?’ Shelly mumbled to herself as she unscrewed the lid of her water bottle. She gulped mouthfuls of water, hadn’t realised how thirsty she was.

The tour guide was staring at her, in the same way a kid might eye off ice-cream. What have we here, she thought to herself. Shelly returned the gaze, and wondered how she failed to notice his clean, handsome face, his tall and lean body. She screwed the lid back on and suggestively stroked the neck of the bottle. She winked at him and placed it in her tote.

He cleared his throat. ‘Right, we’re all here, so I suggest we begin. As I said, this will take just over two hours. We finish at the State Library in LaTrobe Street at Mr Tulk Cafe for lunch. The table is booked to accommodate us all, but if you need to make way, please feel welcome to do so once we arrive there. And please let me know you’re leaving.’

They all followed him. Shelly wished she could remember his name, but hadn’t been listening when he disclosed it. She did a little jiggy-jog to catch up to the Frenchies. Maybe they’d know. If they understood her. She hoped they would, this looked promising.

Over two hours later, Shelly at the front of the group with Linc, they arrived at the cafe. Linc and Shelly walked inside; she felt like a WAG at the Brownlow, smirking to herself at her good fortune for snagging such a fine fellow. They’d exchanged numbers and already made plans for a drink the next evening.

Shelly knew, she just knew, this was the beginning of something fine.

The group sat at the table, perused the menu for lunch. But Shelly didn’t even notice they were there.

 

Image sourced at http://www.meltours.com.au/tours/laneways/

Centre Place, by Adrian Lagniton 2015

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