George leant back in the driving seat and flexed his neck to ease the stiffness creeping toward his shoulders, the tarmac slipping smoothly beneath him to become an ever-growing expanse of distance framed by the rear window of his ageing Ford Mondeo.

“Thanks for picking me up,” she half turned in the passenger seat adding an extra inch of upholstery between the worn denim of her jeans and the gear stick and fixing him with a small appreciative smile.

“It was nothing.” George felt a small surge of unfamiliar warmth toward his unintended passenger who occupied as much upholstery as a child, yet seemed to fill every crevice of the car’s interior.

She had approached him wearing that same small appreciative smile, wandering over to his table in the roadside café where he was struggling to quench a deep thirst with a mug of stewed tea.