It was a quarter to six when Alice’s bosses closed and locked the door of the office of the law firm Baker and Associates behind her. They each gave her a hug.
‘Are you sure you wouldn’t like us to give you and Bill a ride or call a cab?’ Peter Baker asked.
‘Thank you, but we’ll be perfectly fine, won’t we, Billy boy?’ she said, looking down to the Jack Russell sitting to attention at the end of his lead.
‘Okay, if you’re sure. Stay safe,’ Peter said, surprising Alice with another hug. ‘Congratulations again on getting into your course.’
‘Yes, we’re very proud of you. Walk carefully, now,’ Lyn said, also hugging Alice again.
‘See you tomorrow at ten at the end of the market, almost- birthday-girl,’ Ashley Baker said. And Alice received another hug. She didn’t think she’d enjoyed so many platonic hugs in her entire life as she had since moving to Ballarat. It was lovely.