Sunday, March 27, 2011


She found him on Facebook. Why she even bothered to look she's not sure but he looks the same. A little more portly and his hair is grey but his face is largely unchanged. Still kind, with wicked twinkly blue eyes and a wry smile. She fights the urge to call. It's been 34 years since they had a 'dalliance'. She knows he was married in the 80s and now has two little girls. She forgets the time that's passed, they'll be young women now. She knows because she rang his mother when her husband died. Why? The same elusive reason she searched for him on Facebook. Banal curiosity. She does wonder if he is happy. She wants him to be happy. She remembers how often he badgered her to make love to him. She remembers how much she wanted to. She wonders how things might have been different if she had.

Can we make love now?" He says it often, in private, in public he doesn't care and she takes it as a tease. Not that she isn't keen but . .
"Yeh yeh . . " she assures as they walk, hands linked, along a fog-steeped road, but he's serious.

He met her at a fancy dress party. He didn't dress up, he's beyond these things but his friend attracted attention as a blue haired Aladdin Sane. She was all gold all pink and pretty in her harem outfit. She was tanned, young, with a flashing smile and eyes within which you could drown. . . he did . .almost instantly. "Wanna see the stars on the roof of my car?" She laughs at the lameness of the pickup line but agrees. She's on holiday, having fun and he's as lovely as they come around these parts and so she panders to his request. Sure enough, there are stars on the inside of his car, blue and glittery, something to stare at while on the back seat, kissing and fondling but she won't let him go all the way. Not here. Not now. Not on the back seat of a car with the stars watching. She wants it to be perfect. Pressed sheets, breakfast. Somewhere neutral and neat and romantic. They met three weeks ago and she's seen him, loved him, held him, in-between hikes and road trips across the country. He waits for her return each time and is there smiling, happy to have her in his arms if only for a moment.
She's on holiday in England, using her grandparents' private hotel as a base while she ventures on brief sorties around the country.  They're weird. She knows it, they've been this way all their lives but he just doesn't get it. A married couple who hate each other with a vengeance yet can't stand to be out of each other's lives. Her grandfather, Vic,  lives next door and comes in to make breakfast for the guests, supervises the chambermaids and does the books. Her Grandmother Ivy, lives in room 14 and rises at 2 to drink copious amount of tea and chain smokes while she orders supplies, readies the bar and prepares dinner.  Ships in the night, so wrong for each other for so long, yet inseparable. She doesn't know it now, but they'll die within a week of each other so firm are the ties that bind them.  He left her once, twice, maybe three times. She can't remember but he always came back. Always. They pass like ships in the night with a cursory glance, a brief update then he goes off to check out his form guide, muttering “Never bet on a grey” and she half-heartedly commences her day and parties hard into the night with guests. Always a Peter Stuyvesant in one hand and a large gin and tonic, tightly gripped, in the other.
"When are we going to make love then?" The question is repetitive and frequent, "Oh for goodness sakes! Saturday OK?" It's her last week. "Come over, you can stay in room 21. I'll be in 24 and when Ivy goes go to bed, I'll be over." She kisses him softly and traces the inside of his upper lip with her tongue as a tease. He pulls her close and reciprocates with an urgency that betrays the fact, she is soon to leave. She hears the strains of Art Garfunkle's Breakaway, the album he bought for her, and she knows that time is of the essence.  He doesn't want her to go and talks of meeting next year in Canada to 'work things out'. She agrees, it's a good plan.
As the night closes in, and the inebriated chinks of Ivy clearing glasses and emptying the till can be heard downstairs. She showers. Razor glides along her legs and underarms until they're smooth as satin. Shampoo suds and cleanses her thick brown hair, leaving it smelling sweet and fragrant. She pats dry and inspects her naked body before the full length mirror. It's still tanned from the early summer she has left for the frost and ice of a European winter. Her breasts firm and youthful, her skin, olive with only the palour of a tan prevented by a bikini, evidence of it's real hue. She lavishes Chanel No. 5 on her pulse points and smoothes a little in her hair.  She pulls out the black kimono spattered with willow and cherry blossom. A prized purchase from Miss Selfridge's and wraps the soft garment around her.
She knows he's there, just across the hall, she 'feels' him there. Waiting, wanting, beneath the gaudily feminine pink candlewick bedspread. She imagines him, lying naked in anticipation. His hands behind his head the quiet grin of lust upon his face. The pull too strong, she walks through his door. "Hey" she whispers, as he hoists himself upon two pillows, "You're early" he smiles. She bends down towards him and profers a kiss, lets him see enough of her breasts to tease before she withdraws, "Yeh, can't come in yet though. Nana's still downstairs clearing up. I just wanted to let you know that I'm here. That I love that you're here and I'll be back soon." She re-wraps the kimono and blows him a kiss before a gentle retreat and closing the door.
There's little to do but wait, and so she does. Then come the voices. She can't discern what's being said but there's anger. A man shouting, her Nana crying. Within moments, it's obvious that the man is her Grandpa. What he's doing in the building at 2am she doesn't know but wishes they'd just go to bed, leaving her to her clandestine tryst. She wonders down the spiral stairs towards the kitchen and the clamour is becomes loud. She enters the kitchen in time to watch Ivy dodge a flying saucepan lid that clips her glasses sending them careening across the room. Vic, storms past her and out towards his flat. Berating, muttering, unaware of the damage he's done.
Ivy's bleeding, the frames of her glasses having dug deep into the corner of her eyebrow. She's crying, "Bastard!" she sobs. “Bloody bastard . .” The rendezvous is forgotten as she bathes her Nana's eye and makes tea. Lots of tea, strong and sweet and consoling. She talks with her gin soaked grandmother about love and loss and anger and pain and how fucked-up things can be before she realises it's 4am. She's emotionally exhausted and takes Nana to bed. It's late but she wonders back to his room to find him sleeping. Tucked and tired, she doesn't have the heart, nor the inclination, to wake him. He looks beautiful. Her heart skips.
In the morning, he's upset. "What happened? You didn't come?" Explanations and apologies are made. He hugs her, tight, and says he 'understands' but really, he's distraught, pissed, sad. This was to be his night of nights, the cement between the cracks, the glue that would bind them. She's leaving today and he's missed his opportunity. Little does he know that she's filled with a regret that will last for decades. Had she been older, she'd have found a way . . taken the risk but she didn't.
She is older now and reflects on what might have been. She married, had children but finds herself alone. She stares at the Facebook photo and resists the urge to message. "Can't go back," she thinks and clicks onto her profile page. An opportunity lost. She wonders how life might have been so different and the song plays on repeat in her head . . Breakaway . . .

Thanks Jeff for challenging me to write 1000 words in an hour. Yours is better but for God's  sakes, FINISH IT. (If you're an invitee on Panoramic Mindscapes go give him some schtick.)  And Ian, if you're out there . . I'm sorry. You are my sweet regret.


  1. an hour? that's pretty good stuff!

    art's got some golden pipes, eh?

  2. You've gotten very reflective in recent days. Nice one.

    I'll only add that I had some tense problems. I think the action that happened in the past would have been easier to follow had it been written in the past tense. The present tense to describe a past event had me going in circles a bit. (Not that going in circles is anything new for me...)