In the Country

by Doreen F.

Jason really loved his little sister, but sometimes he wished that the age difference between them would not be that big. 10 years, she could nearly be his own kid. So apart from being the big brother he was also babysitter number one or, like today, her taxi driver. He had to take his sister to a summer camp at the sea, since his parents were busy working and he, Jason, had holidays since he was still a student. Furthermore his parents had asked him to stop at his Aunt Maryís place which was not too far out of the way. Jason did not mind. He had spent much of his childhood at his auntís place which was an old farm house with a huge garden. When he called to say that he would come for tea, Mary was thrilled and talked him into staying the night, not taking Ďnoí for an answer. She told him that she was having guests from the city, an old colleague of hers and her daughter were travelling the region and were staying at her huge house. As soon as she said, "the girlís really nice, just about your age", Jason knew what was going on, but he did not mind and could not refuse his auntís invitation. Maybe he would be lucky for once. Relationships had not been a very stable part in his life over the past few years.

When Jason reached his auntís house, there was no one there, but a note saying that they were out for a walk and he should let himself in. The keys were at the usual place and Jason took his overnight bag out of the car and took it up to his room. He was glad that his aunt had not allowed the guests to stay in his room. At least he could have some privacy up here.

Jane was getting bored. Her mum had talked her into stopping by at this old colleague of hers and Mary now would not quit talking. Not that she had anything interesting to tell, but living alone in the country for the greater part of the year, she was thrilled to have guests and someone to talk to. Jane was hoping that the walk would be over soon. Mary had told her that her nephew would be coming for tea and staying the night. Hopefully he was not like his aunt, but Jane doubted it. Mary had shown her every picture she had of her nephew, Jason, and all Jane could remember were really thick glasses, which made it impossible to get a proper look of his face. And most photos were from more than ten years ago, which made him 21 now, one year younger than her. Jane really did not like younger guys. Most of them were even more immature than those her age. But better to have someone your age around than only your mum and Mary.

As they were getting closer to the old farm house, whose interior did not seem to have changed since it had been bought by Maryís parents 30 years ago, Jane saw a car parked in front of the house. At least it was a really cute car, a Citroen C1, one of Janeís favourites. Here we go, she thought, as Mary got really excited, when she spotted the car.

Jason heard them long before they were there. Aunt Maryís voice was unmistakeable. He went down to the front door and waited for them in the drive way.

"Oh Jason, itís so good to eventually see you again! How have you been?"

"Hi Aunt Mary", Jason managed to say as she embraced him squeezing all the air out of lungs. But looking at the gorgeous girl who was standing right next to her would have taken his breath away anyway.

"Jason, this is my friend, Agnes, and her daughter Jane."

They all shook hands and Mary continued chattering as they went into the house.

Jane had to suppress a smile when she saw that Mary was squeezing the poor Jason so tightly that he could not breathe anymore. He looked nothing like the boy on the pictures, of course not. He was much older and looked like man, not boy. And he was not wearing glasses, which surprised her a bit, but Jane had never much thought about glasses. She knew that some people wore them less as they grew older and expected this would be the case with Jason. She had to admit that he was quite handsome. He had a great tan and looked like a beach boy. His hair was brown and short, but not too short and he had really friendly face, blue eyes and a smile that made her knees go weak.

Jason was checking Jane out while they went into the house. She had a great body, long legs, but she was not very tall, which he liked, since he was not so tall either. Her blond hair was tied back and she smiled a lot, although she looked slightly annoyed by Maryís never-ending chatter, which Jason could understand very well. While Mary made tea and laid the table, Jason and Jane were standing next to each other in a rather awkward silence, exchanging shy smiles from time to time. Starting a conversation without sounding utterly stupid had never been Jasonís thing, so they remained silent until had been served. Mary talked endlessly about her personal paranoia and many other things. The next day was the national holiday and patriotism was very important for Mary. While she was talking about the parade and the ceremonies that were being held, she suddenly stopped. "Oh my God, I completely forgot that shops will be closed tomorrow. I donít think I have enough baguette and croissants for breakfast. How bad of me? Iím such a bad hostess. Jason, love, could you drive into the village and buy something for breakfast. Iíll give you a list. You can take Jane with you."

"Alright", Jason said too surprised to realize that there was a plan behind all this.

As soon as he saw her shopping list, he knew that she had not accidentally forgotten, but it had been done on purpose so he and Jane would go to town together. For once he wanted to hug his aunt and thank her for this opportunity she had given him.

Jane also appreciated leaving Mary and her mum for a while. Even if Jason had been much less likeable, she would have rather gone with him than stayed and died of boredom. Furthermore she would get the chance to drive in a C1, which she had wanted to for some time. "I love this car. I have always wanted to be inside one", she said as soon as they left the driveway."

"Really? Thatís incredible, I really love this care a lot. Itís so economical and cute at the same time. The interior is great, isnít it?"

"Yeah, Iím really glad I finally get the chance to see it. And Iím glad weíre out of the house for a while. Youíre auntís a sweet person, but being around her for long is exhausting. I hope youíre not offended, butÖ"

"Yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes sheís simply too much. Living alone most of the time has made her - how shall I put it Ė special, I would say. But youíre right, it can be boring, when she starts rambling about the political situation or the past, which is much worse, trust me."

Jason was surprised how much at ease he was while talking to Jane and in no time at all they were laughing at some of his auntís peculiarities. Once they were in town they bought everything that was on the list. He suspected that more than a few of the thing they had to buy were things his aunt did not want to buy because it was too heavy, like bottles of water. Anyway, he could not complain because he and Jane were having a great time, joking and laughing and getting to know each other. Much too soon they had purchased everything and could not stay away much longer without good reason. So they returned to the house and when they arrived his aunt was already cooking dinner. One thing you were never short of at Maryís was food. She loved cooking and wanted to feed everyone, regardless of them being hungry.

Jane would never admit to her mum what a great time she and Jason had had together doing the groceries. Apart from his really cute car he was such a lovely guy, really nice to talk to and so much fun to be with. At least the visit at Maryís had some good sides for her. She thought that she really deserved it after nearly dieing of boredom before Jasonís arrival. She would deserve a medal for that.

After dinner they all sat down in the garden over some ice-cream which Mary had prepared for them. Some of the neighbours had come over and they were enjoying themselves. Jason and Jane sat next to each other, but slightly separated from the others after they had quizzed Jason about his studies, love life and everything else that was none of their business. His answers had been satisfying, but he had not given away all that much. Just the way he liked it. He was no one who told you everything and more. It was none of the othersí business, especially not his auntís neighboursí. Besides, if he wanted to impress Jane, heíd better not let slip anything he did not want her to know anyway. It was getting late and Jason wished that the neighbours would leave soon. He was getting tired and his contact lenses were bothering him a little bit. And there was no way he would come back wearing glasses in front of all these people. Of course, most knew him since he was a bespectacled child, but things had changed and he was not in the mood for questions or comments about his eyesight. He had done this once before and the comments had been something like "I didnít remember how thick your glasses were, but I remember when you lost them once while playingÖ" or "my daughter has had lasik and is really happy, you should try that too; you look so much nicer without those thick glasses." Jason knew that Jane would see him in glasses, if not that night, then in the morning since he would not put in his contacts right after he got up. However, if she saw him tonight, he would not have to worry about the morning. He cursed about his own vanity, but he was a marked child, having had glasses since he was very young. All the jokes on his behalf had left him hurt deep inside. Eventually all their guests had left. Mary was taking the dishes inside and Jason went up, while Jane and her mum stayed outside. But they had announced that they would go to bed now. Quickly Jason took all his contact lens paraphernalia to the bathroom and removed the lenses. It was a relief. He assumed that he was allergic to some of the flower since his eyes had stung a bit while they had been sitting outside and he had been sneezing from time to time. Swiftly he put on his glasses and brushed his teeth. There was a knock at the bathroom door. "Iíll be done in a minute", Jason said in reply. He brushed his teeth, took all his belongings and opened the door. Jane was standing there. Suddenly Jason realized that he was wearing glasses, but it was too late to do anything now.

Jane wondered why Jason had gone inside so quickly after the guests had left. Nevertheless she was glad that all those people were gone. At first they had been nice, but after some time they were just as boring as Mary and Jason had not participated in the conversation after they had quizzed him about his studies, girlfriends, family and a lot more. He had not been paying much attention to the conversation at all; he had been kind of lost in thoughts. Jane had decided to go to bed now because she was tired, Mary had been really exhausting. Her mum had told her she would stay up for a little while and chat with Mary over a glass of wine or two. So Jane had gone inside and put on her pyjamas. Then she went to the bathroom. Since there was light inside, she knocked knowing that Jason was inside. So she stood there waiting in front of the door. When it opened she did not quite know what to say. Jason was wearing glasses, but he did not really look bad in them. Not like on the photos when he was a boy. She flashed a quick smile at him before she entered the bathroom. He smiled back rather shyly. Inside she had to take two or three deep breaths. What had just happened? Had she really felt turned on by Jason in glasses?

Jason was relieved to see Jane smile at him and managed a weak smile as well. Well, at least she had seen him in glasses now. He would not have to get up early and grope his way to the bathroom in order to get his contacts in before anyone would see him. But what would she be thinking of him now? He went to his room and took off his t-shirt. He usually slept wearing nothing but boxer-shorts. Jason lay down on his bed and decided to read one or two chapters of the book he was reading at the moment, a really fascinating book by Reginald Hill, one of his favourite authors. Suddenly there was a knock at his door. Would this be Aunt Mary? He got up and was looking at Jane. "I forgot my tooth paste, could I have yours?" she asked.

"Sure, itís right here."

"Iíll bring it back in a minute or two", she said with a smile and left.

Jane cursed herself for not finding a better way of seeing Jason again that night without being too obvious. She really wanted to see him and she wanted to see him in glasses again. He had looked very surprised and cute wearing nothing, but his shorts. She quickly removed her make-up and brushed her teeth. In no time at all she was knocking at Jasonís door again.

Had she done that on purpose, Jason wondered. Could that really mean more or was he reading too much into it? Only a few minutes later, there was another knock at his door. Jane came in as he opened. "Thanks for the tooth paste."

"Youíre welcome."

"I like your glasses"

"Thanks, my contacts were bothering me, so I had to take them out. These glasses are quite thick, which is kind of embarrassing for me."

"Donít worry, they look great."

"Youíre so nice, Jane. I really like you, but this is a bad place, I guess. Would you like to meet me when youíre back in the city? We could go for a drink or to the movies."

"Iíd love to. I hope you donít mind the silly ĎI forgot my tooth pasteí-thing. I just wanted to see you tonight."

"Iím glad you came over. You know, many women are freaked out when they see my glasses and Iím so happy you didnít."