We sat around the fire, first there was just me then Erik turned up and we chatted for a bit.
He’s nice Erik a born storyteller if ever there was one. Then Hildy arrived with Tom and Brendan and Marcus and little Joe.
In the end, we had ourselves quite a party. Passing the bottle and singing like our hearts would break if we ever stopped.
That’s when Mary put in an appearance, she was doing her face she said. Personally, I thought she had overdone the mascara a bit but hey who am I to judge.
We had ourselves a high old time. Everyone had a story to tell, some were longer some shorter but they were all entertaining.
We kept Erik’s till last, we were well oiled by then and ready to lay back and enjoy his master storytelling.
As the guest of honour I got to go first. It’s not usually my thing but I gave it my best shot.
They stared open-mouthed as I told my tale.
They were amazed, but Mary being Mary said she had heard this before somewhere and could I tell another one because she was bored.
Erik told her to shut up and Tom said that she was just in a mood because she was supposed to be at a party somewhere and now she couldn’t go.
I never did get to finish my story.
I didn’t mind, the others were all very nice about it. Hildy gave me a smile, she’s kind. I have a lot of time for Hildy.
They are all very different really, but they seem to get along ok. Mary can be difficult but that’s teenagers for you.
Little Joe is funny, a proper imp, a cheeky face and his hair all ‘sticking up for fine weather’ as my mother used to say.
You can see that Hildy is itching to give him a scrub and a jolly good going over with her comb but he won’t ever let her.
So there we were telling our tales and all relaxed and warm around the fire. Me and Erik and Tom, and Marcus and Brendan and the girls and little Joe all getting to know each other.
It was then that I remembered the bike and the shopping on the back. Marshmallows on sticks everyone liked those, the hot dogs went down well too. Marcus ate four with mustard but he’s a big bloke.
We pretty much polished off the lot and the flapjacks I had made for afters.
Brendan who is a bit of a poet on the quiet said it was a feast for the senses, our bellies were full and we had plenty to drink and good company so we should all be grateful and thank the good Lord for smiling upon us.
Tom said that Brendan was in the wrong job and that he was happy to swap.
Brendan laughed and said no thanks. He liked the sound of the hours and the lack of heavy lifting, but he didn’t think it was really the job for him.
Then we all laid back and watched the fireworks as they streaked across the heavens.
They were beautiful, showers of red and purple and gold.
Hildy said it looked like the sky was melting. Erik said it reminded him of a tale he knew about dragons fighting and he told us another story.
I suppose it had to end sometime, gradually they all left until it was just me again. I was tired so I closed my eyes for a bit and let myself drift off.
I don’t know how long I slept, it must have been ages because the sun was high in the sky when I opened my eyes again.
There was this kid looking down at me, a boy I think. He makes a funny face then he legs it and I go back to sleep.
The next time I wake up I’m in bed, very strange. It smells clean and there are tubes in my arm.
A motorbike crash on a wet November evening. Of course, I had just bought hot dogs and marshmallows as my contribution. We always have a bit of a gathering on Bonfire night.
Lucky to be alive they said, another night in the cold and that would have been it.
But of course I wasn’t cold, we had the fire and the hotdogs and the toasted marshmallows.
Nurse Dexter said that sometimes when the brain is closing down it plays tricks on you.
A little kindness he called it, sending you out of the world in a gentle way with no pain.
He reckoned it was the hypothermia that made me feel hot and my brain converted that into a campfire. The rest he said was purely down to my imagination.
What could I say, that it all seemed real? That we laughed and ate hotdogs and talked the night away, of course I didn’t.
They told me I had come off at a place they called Parsons Corner a notorious accident black spot. It was near the site of next year’s dig.
The guys on the team were great. Archaeologists can get quite close working on a job. It was all being planned for the spring.
I was sorry to be missing out on what sounded like it was going to be a great site.
At least I could help with a bit of research. They brought me a pile of books and I spent hours reading up on the area. I became a bit of an expert on Parsons Corner.
It seemed I wasn’t the only one to come a cropper on that particular bit of road.
Parsons corner was named after the Reverend Thomas Whitely an 18th-century clergyman. Thrown from his horse on an errand of mercy, he was found stiff and cold the next morning his Bible clutched in one hand.
There was the Irish mason Brendan Kelly who shed a cartload of stone as it came around that sharp sharp bend. Both he and his young son had been crushed to death. The child had only been identified by his unruly mop of dark hair.
Finally, in 1966 a teenage girl on the way to a party had fallen foul of some drunk driver. It was a hit and run and they never found the killer. Her grieving parents had heard the front door slam as she stormed out of the house after a row and they never saw her alive again!
So that was Parsons Corner. The name will remain in my heart until the end of my days.
Not because I very nearly did end my days there. But because it was the site that made me famous, in Archaeology circles anyway!
Who would have thought it, a Roman Villa complete with the skeleton of a huge man, presumably its owner judging by the fine grave goods.
If that wasn’t enough we also found a double Viking burial, very rare. A man and a woman placed side by side into the earth to await eternity. The man had a sword and the woman who lay beside him was holding a beautiful bone comb.
Only I knew how just how much gentle Hildy had been itching to use it on someone.