In the week or so that I had now been out of hospital the one thing I still avoided talking about was work. It was going to have to be faced up to sometime, yet it was so full of potentially dark pitfalls, I felt safer trying not to think about it. I guess most of my friends considered it inappropriate too, as no one brought the subject up. Of course, try as I might to make it go away by not thinking about it, 1001 questions still went racing through my mind every day. To be perfectly honest I didn't even know if I still had a job to go back to. After all, my last conscious act before ending up in hospital had been to write my letter of resignation. And as I'd been found sleeping alongside the railway line, then I'd passed the centre. So presumably, I had actually dropped it into the box. There could be no doubt that my detractors in the village would seize on this gaping opportunity to be rid of me.
Even without the letter of resignation it was going to be tough to maintain any semblance of authority and competency in the light of what had happened. Several weeks in a mental institution was not the best recommendation for any job, and I could see all the behind the door sniggers and raised eyebrows painstakingly camouflaged but just as real. In addition, questions were bound to be raised within the Town Council even if the centre was no longer, officially at least, under their jurisdiction.
So leaving home that morning became an act of intense volition. I had absolutely no idea what was awaiting me. The only person to have talked about work or the prospect thereof was my doctor who had given me a certificate explaining I was exonerated from work until today. And he, not being from the village, would have had no idea as to whether I actually had a job to go back to.
It's hard to describe how I felt that morning as I stepped out onto the street to face up to the one reality I'd been hiding from for days. If an author seeking to plumb the whole gamut of emotions that can fill a human heart and mind had been able to perform some kind of mental dissection of my soul, he would have found there enough material for a shelfful of novels.
And yet, strangely enough, he would not have found any trace of self-doubt. That, it seems, had vanished... for the time being at least. As I strode off towards my future, I felt instinctively I would be up to whatever awaited me that day, including returning home immeidately via the nearest shortcut because I had no job to go to.
I arrived at the centre shortly before nine. A couple of young people were waiting around for the summer program to get going but they took little notice of me. A quick glance at the program in my office told me today's activity was jazz guitar run by Cedric and I'd hardly sat down at my desk when he poked his nose around the door and came to greet me warmly. His pleasure at seeing me was undisguised.
So let's get on with the job. Until someone comes to throw me out, this was where I belong and I no doubt I had a lot to catch up on. I began by trying to create a semblance of order in my office, so started flipping through the large pile of papers in my in-tray. They included a letter, written in my own hand-writing. It had been opened and on the envelope someone had scribbled the words:
And once again, I thanked my lucky stars, or whoever else it was out there for giving me such wonderful friends.