Amy drummed her fingers against the picnic table, and she checked her watch for the umpteenth time. Nineteen minutes. This is what she got for trying to be nice.
Amy’s eyes narrowed as she looked over. Colin gave her a bright smile as he adjusted a cap on his head to cover his blond hair.
“You’re late,” she said, standing up and brushing off her shorts. “We’ve got an hour walk and a ferry that leaves in 50 minutes, so we’ve got to hurry.”
“Yeah, no, I never run,” he said with a shake of his head. “Unless the script calls for it, but even that’s only, like, two minutes tops.”
She opened the gate to the garden and strode out, not bothering to hold it open for him.
“Well, you’d better power walk at least, then,” she retorted. “Unless you’re planning on swimming.”
“There’s a ferry after that,” Colin replied, quickening his pace to match hers.
“But that one leaves, like an hour later,” she pointed out.
Colin shrugged and looked up at the sky.
“Well, it’s a nice day,” he said. “We can just take a slow walk and enjoy the view.”
Amy glanced up at the sky. She could see a few fluffy white clouds slowly meander across a bright blue sky.
“I… I guess,” she said finally.
She didn’t want to admit that she didn’t even consider just taking the next ferry, but then again there was nothing really pressing waiting for her in Oban.
“Then it’s settled,” Colin said, purposefully slowing his pace.
She rolled her eyes and checked her watch again.
“We can walk faster than a snail’s pace, though,” she replied.
She slowed down a little, too, dragging her feet up the hill. The road was bumpy from rain washing away the dirt over the years. It was a good thing she didn’t care much about her shoes, which were already permanently stained with dust collected from two different continents. The hesitation in Colin’s step told Amy that he didn’t share her feelings, though. She has to basically stop walking altogether, waiting as he skirted around the potholes and practically tiptoed on the dirt. Amy bit her tongue and checked her watch again.
“Why are you always checking your watch?”
“Just timing how long it’ll take you to get anywhere walking like that,” she replied quickly.
“Every time you check your watch, it’s ‘cause you’re timing me?” he asked with a raised brow. “Didn’t realize you were so obsessed with me.”
“Not every time,” she muttered.
Colin shrugged and fell into pace with her as they reached the top of the hill. Amy glanced back. The bed and breakfast looked picturesque, nestled in a flower-covered garden between green hills. She pulled out her phone to snap a few pictures. She could see a few sheep had wandered over the far ridge, probably on their way to steal a few bites of Sophie’s flowers. Ava was probably not far behind, she thought with a slight smile.
Colin waited (patiently, too, which was a shock) as Amy snapped a few more pictures before putting her phone away. She checked her watch.
“You did it again,” he noted.
“Why are you keeping track?” Amy snapped, turning away from the bed and breakfast.
“I dunno,” he replied. “I just haven’t seen anyone that obsessed with time. And I’ve met, like, all the Doctor Whos.”
Amy didn’t respond.
“That was a joke,” he continued, quickening his pace to match hers. “You know, because they’re time lords.”
“I don’t watch the show,” she replied.
“Do you watch any shows?” he asked. “Arthur and Doctor Who are the biggest shows on the network.”
Amy sighed. They were going downhill again, and she slowed her pace so she didn’t slip down the hill. She was hoping Colin would just go ahead of her (or fall to the bottom), but he stayed in line with her.
“I just… like keeping track of the time,” she replied after a pause. “I feel nervous if I don’t know what time it is.”
“So checking it makes you feel less stressed?”
Amy hesitated. “Not exactly.”
She debated spending the rest of the trip in silence. But, then again, she already blabbed about her daddy issues. And he probably was only half-listening to her anyway.
“I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to time,” she confessed. “I always feel like I’m running behind some kind of schedule, so I try to keep track of it. But then it makes me more anxious sometimes…” she trailed off.
Colin was nodding slowly, and she was surprised to note that his eyes weren’t clouded over with disinterest.
“I mean, my time is always managed for me,” he said, looking thoughtful. “But I guess running behind schedule can make you nervous.” He paused and chuckled. “For me, it’s when I have free time that everyone around me gets anxious.”
“That’s when the trouble starts,” he replied with a wink. “Have you googled me yet? I’m pretty sure you’ll find a plethora of examples.”
“Why would I google you?”
Amy glanced away from him. To be honest, she had already googled him, but the first page (way too many shirtless pictures of him and a few articles about him at some clubs) had her closing that tab immediately.
“Oh,” Colin said, and he looked a little disappointed.
“Anyway,” Amy said, clearing her throat awkwardly. “Are you here because of your free time gone wrong? Did you get a DUI? Or was it something shadier? Did you accidentally kill someone?”
“Nothing nearly as dramatic,” he replied with a laugh. “It was just some partying… and women.”
Amy rolled her eyes. She should’ve known he was a playboy.
“You’re judging me, aren’t you?” he asked, squinting his eyes at her.
“I mean, I have been lowkey since day one,” she said. “But honestly, I don’t really care about that.”
“Really?” Colin’s face seemed to brighten at that.
Amy felt her cheeks color, and she stopped on the pretense of snapping a few pictures of the ocean view.
“Well, we don’t have any connections other than both being on this island,” she replied, focusing on her phone. “So when we’re off the island, it’s not like we’ll see each other again. Why would I care that much about a practical stranger?”
He didn’t reply, and Amy glanced at him. His eyes were distant as he looked around. The path they had taken had snaked to the outskirts of the island, and was all but touching the ocean. She couldn’t help but notice how his eyes were the same color as the water… She cleared her throat and started walking again.
“You must be really excited to get back home,” she said, trying to fill the sudden silence. “Do you miss filming?”
He snorted. He still wasn’t looking at her, and it looked like he was thinking a thousand thoughts at once.
“It’s a steady job,” he said slowly. “But I’d be lying if I said I was in love with it.”
“If you don’t like it, why don’t you just quit?” Amy asked. “I’m sure you don’t need the paycheck.”
Colin smiled and stopped in his tracks. Amy wished he could just think and walk at the same time.
“I’d like to do other projects,” he admitted. “But when you’re on a big show like Arthur, it kind of limits your options when it comes to acting gigs.”
“So you’ll only be cast as a brooding, ancient king?” she guessed.
“Something like that.”
“And you wanna play a different role?”
Colin shrugged and quickened his pace. He ran his fingers through his hair, and Amy couldn’t help but feel that was his way of saying his dream role was far from his current one.
“Let me guess, a superhero?” she asked. “International spy?”
Colin chuckled and shook his head.
“Just, something different than what I’m doing now,” he replied. “But… that won’t happen.”
“I’m sure someone would hire you,” Amy said, giving him a small smile. “What, with all your adoring fans, you’d at least get cast as an extra somewhere, right?”
Colin rolled his eyes, but his smile didn’t disappear as he gave her a light shove.
“You probably think you’re really funny, huh?”
“In my next life, I could be a comedian,” Amy replied with a toss of her ponytail.
They walked in silence, and luckily Colin started walking a little faster. Amy paused a few times as they passed a few fields with flowers or when they saw a sheep grazing and she wanted to take a few pictures. It was a little unnerving that he was just walking silently. And waiting for her. And she could feel him watching her. Amy was starting to wonder if she should start a conversation.
“So… do you think you’ll ever leave your job?” she asked.
And then mentally kicked herself. It probably wasn’t the best conversation starter.
“Over my dad’s dead body,” he replied after a pause. “He’s an executive at the network.”
“If he knew you didn’t like your job, would he really make you stay?”
“As long as it generates a profit, yes.”
“Are we trying to go into my father issues now?” he joked.
Amy flushed, and Colin cleared his throat. She thought about changing the subject, but they were already almost to the ferry. She paused, pretending to take a picture of the empty gravel parking lot. With a worn down shed and an ancient dock extending from behind the dumpster, it wasn’t exactly a postcard picture. The ferry was drifting towards them, and Amy guessed they only had about five minutes to wait. She checked her watch.
“See?” Colin said with a proud smile. “We’re just in time.”
“Yeah, I never thought it was possible to walk an hour’s distance in twice the time,” Amy retorted.
“I wasn’t the one stopping to take pictures every two seconds.”
“I only stopped so much because you were going so slow.”
Colin and Amy glared at each other for a moment before breaking into chuckles. Amy just shook her head.
They boarded the ferry as soon as it docked, and soon they were leaning against the rails as it slowly departed towards the mainland. Amy felt the wind whip through her hair. She closed her eyes and took a deep inhale of the sea air. She turned to glance at Colin. He jumped and looked away quickly.
“Your hair is in my face,” he said quickly, brushing his hands over his eyes.
He shrugged in response and looked out towards the ocean. The ferry slowly rocked side to side, and Amy couldn’t help but feel lulled by it.
“So… what’s your dream role?” she asked.
He looked over at her and shrugged.
“You have to have something you’re dying to play,” she said.
He adjusted his cap to cover more of his forehead. She guessed that was his way of saying he wasn’t going to share it with her. She turned her gaze towards the ocean. If he didn’t want to talk to her, that was fine, she reasoned. She was only spending time with him because she felt sorry for him. She cleared her throat.
Colin didn’t say anything to her until they were walking towards Oban.
“You’re going to laugh at me,” he said suddenly.
Amy was taking a picture of a flower. She looked up at him curiously.
“Huh?” she asked.
“In school,” he said, “I used to really like stage acting.”
“Like in plays?” Amy asked, realizing what he was talking about. “Why would I laugh?”
“It’s highly unlikely I’d be at the Globe anytime soon,” he replied.
He looked away as he said this, and Amy realized he was feeling self-conscious. She didn’t know he could even feel that.
“Like Shakespeare?” she asked. “I didn’t realize you liked… that stuff.”
“Serious roles,” she replied, and then mentally kicked herself. “Not that… I mean… I’m sure your character on Arthur is pretty serious.”
“Not at all,” he said with a laugh. “It’d be nice to have a character with depth for a change, you know?”
“Like in Shakespeare?”
“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “Or… I also really like sci-fi, so that’d be fun to do sometime. Anything with a good character, honestly.”
“Well then, you should go for it,” Amy replied with a shrug. “Who cares what your dad says? He doesn’t own you.”
“Oh, but he does. At least the network owns me for another season… at least.”
Amy wanted to ask why he wouldn’t just refuse to sign a contract for another season. But it looked like this was a sensitive subject for him. She had a feeling that she wouldn’t understand anyway.
Actors, she thought with a shake of her head.
They made it into town, and Amy could see a train stopped at the station. A small crowd was disembarking. She wondered how many were taking a day trip to the island.
“Where should we go first?” Colin asked.
He lifted his hat a bit to study the town map next to the information desk. Amy heard a sharp gasp behind her. A teen girl was gawking at Colin.
“A-are you… Colin Thompson?” the girl asked in a hushed voice.
Colin looked at Amy, giving her a panicked look. She remembered him saying he shouldn’t be seen by fans. Apparently he was serious. Amy forced a laugh.
“Who’s Colin?” she asked, over-pronouncing her American accent. “Do you have a Scottish doppelganger, hun?”
Colin gave her a confused look, followed immediately by a chuckle and a shrug.
“Sorry, hun,” he said to the teenage girl, sounding like a poor impersonation of a cowboy. “I’m… Bill.”
Amy was certain that, if his accent hadn’t given him away, his hesitation with making up a name would. The girl looked confused for a moment. Then she sighed.
“Oh,” the girl said with a crestfallen expression. “I thought you were someone else.”
“Sorry, we’re just a couple Americans,” Amy replied before Colin could use his accent again. “Oh, maybe you recognize him from our travel blog?”
The girl gave Amy a weird look, and Amy shrugged.
“No harm, no foul,” Amy said quickly. “Anyway, let’s go… Bill. I’m starving.”
She grabbed Colin’s arm and steered him away from the train station. Once they crossed the street, Colin chuckled. Amy flushed.
“I hope playing an American isn’t on your dream roles list,” she said. “That was the worst accent I’ve ever heard.”
“What? My accent was great,” he replied with a hurt look. “I sounded just like you, but with a lower tone.”
Amy grabbed his hat and pushed it lower to cover more of his face.
“Just… keep yourself hidden,” she said. “I don’t think anyone else would buy that you’re American.”
She caught his eyes as she adjusted his hat. Her heart started racing, and she saw the corners of his mouth twitch up. She moved her hand away quickly.
“I wasn’t lying earlier,” she said. “I really am starving. Let’s find somewhere to eat.”
She walked away, trying to look for a cafe to eat at. The image of his smile seemed to block her vision.