Quietness enfolded the village hall, with the merest hint of a cough here and there, of shoes scuffed across the wood-block floor, and of papers shuffled and straightened on the formica top of the meeting table.
Sylvia had berated them singly or in couples before the meeting; shaming them that in such a small parish there should be dissent between church and social committee. She had listed the best of times they could remember, when both had worked as one to leave a legacy; a memory.
It had worked. They knew the group needed to get its act together. It needed to renew its sense of purpose, its unity.
Before they knew it, they had elected Sylvia to the chair. She, of all people: barely a year in the village. She, they realized, who had never actually been present at any of the events or good times she had reminded them of.
They looked again at her face, now less shaming and rather more shameless. They heard her call the meeting to order.
“Now, about this footpath across my land …”