The Bench - part two
I hear more footsteps coming along the path. I’m alert and ready for them. The dust rises around my feet and my hypothetical ears prick as they kick up the dirt. I hear their voices, a man and a woman talking quietly in short breaths...
“Hey Lesley come and sit down, you look all sweaty," Two wobbly bottoms plop onto me and I can see the sweat patches form in big circles, I'm very glad I have no sense of smell. “So what do you think of these cracking views?" I can’t resist laughing at the pun.
“Hold on Bob, for Christ sakes, let me sit for a minute and catch my breath; I'm pouring with sweat here. Why on earth did you drag me all the way up here, I could see just fine from the beach!" She pushes her nose into the air and wipes off beads of sweat with her shirt sleeve.
“Now now my little flower, stop it, these are the best views around these parts, you know why, it’s romantic, how often do you say I'm not romantic enough?" He sided up to her and slid solid arms around her waist.
“Taking me out for a meal or to a Spa is romantic, not dragging me up dusty hillside in 28 bloody degrees!” Her mouth smiled wryly feigning an annoyed look, her gentle eyes giving away her warmth.
That's him told - I snigger quietly, I don't know why, because they can't hear me. I am waiting for the conversation to turn to where we are, I am always bloody waiting.”
“Now Lesley, here's the thing, I know we haven’t exactly seen eye to eye lately and we’ve been passing ships in the night, but you do know I adore you right?” He seemed jittery and hoped her answer would be yes, picking at his finger nails he swiftly moved on to the next bit.
“I’ve wanted to talk to you about something important for ages.”
“What is it love, have you met someone else?” She looked genuinely concerned and lowered her gaze. I presume it is serious from the man’s pensive look; his eyebrows arch up like caterpillars in a half loop and almost meet in the middle.
“Nothing like that.” He laughs as if humoured by her remark and lifts her face with a sausage-like forefinger. Looking directly into her questioning silver-grey eyes he takes her hand he leads her to the cliff edge.
“Come here a minute Les, just take look at that view, it’s like diamonds are dancing on the water.” Beaming, pleased with this observation, he gave her hand a little squeeze.
“What’s got into you today?” she paused momentarily hands on curvy hips and wondered why he was acting so strange? She stood by him and rested her curious head on his bare hairy shoulder. Just as she relaxed admiring the wonderful view of a glittery sea, he swung her around with a swift jerk of her arm, as if he were getting her ready to do the Tango. Spinning to face him she lost her step turning her ankle and almost fell.
Facing him now and adjusting her eyes from crossed to normal she put up a finger about to scold him. Before she could get the words out, he dropped onto one knee with a heavy a thud producing a sudden flurry of dust. She cocked her head to one side for a second thinking he might have collapsed when he surprised her once again.
“Lesley Ann Jacob, would you do me the great honour of becoming my wife?” Coughing into a fisted hand he pushed a velvet box containing a real sparkler through a dust cloud. It must have cost a good few pay packets. Her mouth gaped and she looked genuinely gob smacked. Wafting away the dusty air and looking visibly elated she eyed the ring, once it was fully observed and considered fit for purpose she beams showing shiny-white teeth.
Squeezing the ring onto her chubby finger and struggling at the knuckle, causing her to wince, he finally sealed the deal. She didn't speak for a while, enjoying the moment, staring at the ring as it sparkled under the bright morning sun. Eventually she murmured a quiet
“yes.” The man’s face lit up like a thousand stars.
If I had hands with which to clap I would clap them furiously and shout “WELL DONE BOB!”
Then they embraced and then they did something else, quite incomprehensible and its broad daylight! – This was a first! I presume I must be an adult. I have no eyes to close! If were to have even a little human emotion, right now, I would be blushing like a tomato. So I whistle a tune to myself and turn to gaze at the sea.
Afterwards drinking champagne from finger print smudged plastic flutes they clasp hands and gaze out to sea – this happens a lot. Holding a long stick they take selfie or two and then walk hand in hand back the way they came. Not exactly one of the most romantic scenarios I have witnessed and still no blooming mention of where we are but there we have it - Proposal number 223 complete.
Diamonds shine, gold glitters, hearts entwine, smiles smile, romance begins.
I hear a whisper speaking in crackles and fizzes. It sounds like the buzz of an electricity pylon on a rainy day. The sound fuses with energy and produces a voice, gradually becoming clearer until I hear its low frequency whisper. It’s definitely female, soft and delicate somehow diluted. I can barely hear her.
"Ssshhh beep pssst, beep hey you shhhhhhhh. “They need to be here, it's your only way, you know that don't you?” “I need to see mine soon, I have to. She didn't even come here, did she, she promised?"
Then I hear heinous sobs fading and then silence. I know this whisper is wistful and her name sound is weushhhhhha. I don't feel her sadness but I recognise it. She leaves.
I’m trying to work out a giant jigsaw, slowly putting together pieces that will eventually formulate my master plan, but some parts just don't correspond, and this puzzle must have a million bloody pieces - and hardly any fit at all, at least not yet.
To say It's frustrating is an understatement. Not being able to communicate or ask questions is torture. They come and go, faint whispers carrying advice , despair, laughter and jokes, of all things, as if it isn’t confusing enough. There is one who comes and tells knock knock jokes, a young man.
He always laughs before he gets to say the punch line which infuriates me. “KNOCK KNOCK," he shouts in a resounding whisper - I whisper back.
"Who's there?" in the vague hope I will get a response. But then he laughs in a vinegary-bitter kind of way and he fades out. It’s very discouraging as he is the loudest and clearest so far. I have tried shouting, but it doesn't seem to do any good either.
I have to be patient, one whisper told me so faintly once. I long for a response from the whispers. As I get more and more inquisitive the mountain of questions I have for them are rising up into a heap of investigative fireworks. But I must bloody well wait.
It hasn’t been morning for long yet the new moon is passing between the sun and the earth, the sun is being eclipsed, devoured by a hungry moon. Its growing dark, I watch as the sun light is hidden and its golden glow is dampened. Darkness doesn’t descend completely but a strange stillness hangs and a gloomy quietness as if nature isn’t sure what to do. The birds stop chattering and the grass stands tall as if on high alert. Slowly the sun reappears and nature resumes her busy morning. I notice a jackdaw has perched on my arm and stands perfectly still as if confused by the quickness of night to day. I name him Solar. He is to become my companion.
Voices whisper, shadows lurk, chaos waits, confusion continues. My story begin
CHAPTER - The Georges
CHAPTER - The Georges
I am a fifty four year old grieving mother, retail store Manager, best friend to a tumble weed , AKA Nia Pearson and wife to a cheating Bastard! My life until this point and I’m certain beyond this point, is full of disappointment. Today, as I do every other day, I perch on my sons neatly made bed, in my missing sons freshly painted bedroom. After the accident, two years ago, his bed remains unslept in. My sons room, my only son.
It seems strange now to say the words, they don't seem to roll off my tongue quite as easily as they did. They sit at the back of my throat, I think only a gutteral cough would make me say the words out loud.
"My son." I whisper them gently into the morning.
Every morning I sit here, in this very spot, just to witness the beauty of a ceremonial sun rise from behind adjacent mauve peaked mountains. They are across a stretch of sea, beyond the harbour, a line of majestic mountains. Boldly announcing their presence as the sun appears and insists the world should wake up, and the birds should start to sing from the tree tops!
The familiar sound of halyards clinking drifts through the open window with a strong smell of the sea. The seagulls cry overhead and salty air lingers, damp and misty, making me shiver.
We moved to Aberearon to get away from the city, A picture postcard town with pastel coloured houses and sea views. We painted ours pale sage-green and vanilla cream, my favourit colours, next to violet blue and purple at number 54. Just at the top of the main street on the crest of the hill, our house, that sits all proud and empty. My eyes close for a second as I recall the softness of his baritone voice, gently teasing into the night. Was that only two years ago? Time seems to have exploded into forever.
“Mum, those bloody boats, I can't sleep!” After the noise of the city, it always surprised me. He said they kept him awake. I wonder, is he awake now, what is he thinking, can he wake up, would he talk to me if he did?
I stretch my palm out and smooth out the wrinkles on his quilt cover, perfect, it has to be perfect. Dust free, aired and tidy, always tidy. I like my new purchase, I swipe my finger across the surface of the bookshelves, I think he will like them, I got them to showcase his collection of camera's. I'm sure when he returns he'll love them?
I know Mogely will be waiting for me, the dog, his dog, waiting for me to place my tea mug in the cracked Belfast sink so he can bark for his lead. The crack that echoes the sound of smashing glass, the start of everything bad and the beginning of empty hearts, a sagging house and a silently imploding family. It’s what happens when no one talks and no one does , not even me. Making my way to the kitchen where Simon is shuffling papers around the kitchen table. Simon, my husband, father in denial, lawyer and did I mention, cheating bastard?
He is looking at directions to a firm he is visiting in London. Meaning away for the night, possibly two, hopefully two, our silence is deafening. I like being alone or with Nia. I place my lukewarm mug into the sink; I stare at the crack, like a crooked line of perpetual pain. I freeze.
“MOLLY, for god sake, Mogley's barking.” He looks annoyed, He always looks annoyed.
“I'm not deaf!” I snap, bringing myself back to now. I reach past him and pull down the dogs lead off the hook and I breathe in deeply as I close Simon in the house and me out.
The sun is breaking through the nip that’s hanging about the air, Mogley sniffs the ground and sets off down the path nose to the ground, tail spinning. I amble through the woodland at the end of our garden onto a path that winds down to the beach. As I approach the opening, a dark shadow creeps into my soul and my eyes are drawn up the bench, on the cliff top. I freeze on the spot, as if someone has poured concrete on my feet. Time disappears and I’m back, in the black of that night. I'm soaked to the bone. A seagull screams and snaps me back I to now, back to the 24th June , two years to the day. I wipe away my tears.
As I watched that sun rise this morning, my heart sank to fathoms only I will ever know, having to face another like this, another day without my son, just like now. Another day in silence.
I am beginning to detest Simon, everything about him makes me sigh, roll my eyes , or cry in frustration. Love left us two years ago, it ran off into the past where it sits, laughing at us. I wish I could swap him for my son. Mogley barks urging me to get a move on, I curse, I forgot the pooh bags!
My kitchen feels lighter, brighter, better without him in it, as if somehow the whole house has cheered up in his absence. It never used to be like this, there never used to be dollops of bitterness and lashings hatred. I met Simon as a fledgling at university, skint, naive and holding down two jobs to get me through. I used to turn up at lectures blurry eyed and half-listen my way through. Often pretending to scratch notes, while really doodling flowers, eyes or hands, I always drew them for some reason? He used to take me out for lunch and walk with me in the park. He had studied with me, fueling me with coffee, so I could stay awake. Looking back I wonder how I did it on no sleep and a variation of creative pasta dishes and very cheap plonk.
Simon, had lived in luxury. He rented a flat in the best part of town; it was an attraction back then, ironically, being with someone that had money. He was right wing upper class snob. Still is, but the years seem to have altered him, into an elitist who would quite happily surround himself by pure British bloodlines. He’s developed a sickening sense of loathing for anything that requires a sense of morality, kindness or sympathy. Simon doesn't do empathy either, not anymore; he isn't capable of seeing anything from any side apart from his own. I watched this person grow over the last two years, like a tomato plant, fed and watered venom, silver spooned anger, that seeped into his blood, until he was ripe enough to split with hatred. I find it sad but also ridiculous, how someone can change so drastically. He doesn’t mention him, our son, not ever.
It's as if he never existed, photos are gone, buried in a drawer under a packet of candles that were never lit. Radio silence echoes denial. He has scared away our daughter Felicity too. Our wonderfully talented and unique Fliss. She heard her dad scold TV presenters that were delivering human rights news, devastating, hundreds dead news. She shook her head at his bitterness and didn't return, She stayed in Oxford, playing her violin and wearing her odd ensembles. I can see her now, in the window of her bohemian loft conversion playing to a busy street, eyes closed, lost in music. I miss her. Three of us in turmoil, three of us suffering and yet we can't talk, all coping with demons. Fliss was close to her brother, they were best freinds, confided secrets, on that bench of theirs, up on the cliff at Llangrannog. I think she can't come back to the grief, I think it suffocates her?
Simon used to cherish us, our neat family, everything we had, my enthusiasm for helping the underdog, my charity work, my love of anything contrastingly different to our repetitious life. He encouraged my travel and my passion for chaos and fun. We had planned to drop in on the Dali Lama for tea, once the kids were up and gone. Walk the Great Wall of China, do the Samba in Rio. Have our fabulous fifties, be reckless and live a little. Since the accident, he has deemed anything I do unorthodox or ridiculous or unrealistic. That's when I concluded he was in fact ridiculous, that's when I began to drift away, into me and my thoughts, with only Nia to save me. God bless that woman, that mad beautiful woman. Simon has screwed a succession of secretaries over the last two years, I know about them all. The blonde with the BMW, the red head with an apartment by the Thames and the Asian girl with the butterfly tattoo. He is welcome to them, I turn a blind eye, it keeps him busy, so I don’t have to.
It seems Simon got on the train one day, the 7,45 to Paddington and never returned and I am eternally bound for the Himalaya's . Or at least, I was. I'm now in limbo, waiting to see my children again, to feel the warmth of their laughter and the love that bound us all together once, before then, before that night.
I don't quite hate my husband. Almost, but then I don't particularly like him either. I think the man I once loved has disintegrated into a pile of sadness, lost, unlikely to rise, like a phoenix from it's ashes, instead just smoldering a fog of bitter grief. Cinders, that will flutter away to nothing. My hands are cold; Mogely is asleep by his armchair, as if he is waiting for him too.
I hear Nia's car pull up, Chameleon blasting out of her Fiat 500, her pink, daisy embellished car. The one that is too small for her huge personality and incapable of containing her long robust legs. Her seat pushed all the way back. She toots. I get up to grab my coat and do a final check in the hall mirror. Old, that's what I see. Wrinkles, stress and age. A post menopausal me.
She knocks at my door, no patients, I smile at the thought of her, beehive , blonde , sassy and as mad as a box of frogs. Simon doesn't approve.
"Molly, will you hurry up flower, we are going to be late!" she peeps through the letterbox and pink fingernails poke through.
"I thought I was the boss?" I say, smiling my glossy lips at her back through the open flap.
"You are, and I don't want to get told off, I've seen how you treat your staff, look what happened to knob nose?"
We laugh, I open the door. She has the ability to make me laugh, I love her for that. My dark moods shift when I am around her. I spend endless hours with her, escaping from me.
"Why are you so late, it's not like you?" I say eyeing her new jacket, silk and fitted, it makes he look slimmer, she isn’t slim.
"Well, that idiot - limpdick - blocked me in again, every bloody day the same, why he can't just park on the other side, I don't know, ?" "He's off my Christmas card list, that’s for sure."
"You mean Mr Dimpac?" I say and look at her over my glasses.
"Yes, him, stupid man." She screws up her big round face and tosses me a wink. Her eyes are heavily made up with black eyeliner. she reminds me of a sixties chick.
"Don’t you give me the school-teacher-look Molly George." I take off my glasses, thinking about knob-nose, Trevor, a man who sends chills down my spine, a man who was made to take a leave of absence to think about his actions. About how he ripped into me with a vicious attack of hatred, how he spewed words at me, how he frightened the life out of me, just because I took a table from his staff room. He's is due back today. I'm dreading it. He has a loathing for woman in power, I am his boss, I hold the power. I think he could just hates women in general. Molly knows what I'm thinking.
"He won't come near you, you know that don't you?" "He'll be too scared of getting the sack." She doesn't look convinced, Nia knows the look in his eye, she was there, she saw it.
"I hope he doesn't, I could do without the hassle, I’ve got bloody assesments to do today and guess who's third up on my list?"
"No, they can't expect you to appraise a man, who almost attacked you, can they?" She looked surprised.
"Well, I haven't heard otherwise, I sent the plan in yesterday." Her car smells of grapefruit, It reminds me of him, He like blood grapefruit with heaps of sugar, slightly toasted.
"What a pile of shite! Do you want me to sit in?" I snap out of the thought.
"Would you mind?" He's gone.
"Don't be daft, It will keep me away from the permed possy at customer service." I never thought about it before, they do all have permed, or curly hair, eighties throw backs. I shake my head and laugh.
"Anyway Molly, I don't think he would risk his job, he has to keep that fruitcake of a wife in aprons and pearls, have you seen her?"
"Only once, at the staff party. She didn't speak all night, very odd, she seemed older than him too." Molly pouted in the mirror and stuck two v's up at shiny white mini that cut in front of us, the driver applying her make up in the rear view mirror. She stuck two fingers back and almost drove into the roundabout.
"Flippin nutter!" Nia shouted and turned back to me with a smile.
"She doesn’t work, so I bet he will be a goody two shoes, do a bit of brown nosing."
"Is it me, or does he seem creepy to you, like something isnt quite right?" I notice her face its heavily powdered.
"Er, yes, and to everyone else too." She pokes at her bee hive with thick fingers
"He does strange stuff Molls, haven't you noticed?" "You watch, next time he goes to the loo."
"What kind of stuff?"
"Weird things, tapping and knocking and counting, ticks. you know all mental heath stuff, a right loon, he doesn't look you in the eye either. nut job I reckon."
"Well, I'm going to give him a wide birth, the last thing I need is more stress."
"Simon's out of town for a couple of nights, do you fancy a pyjama movie night tonight?"
"Is The Pope circumcised?" It takes me a minute, I laugh at her again.
"I'll supply the wine you get the chocolate, do you want me to drop you at his place for a bit first?"
"Does a bear shit in the woods?" We both get the giggles. It feels good to let it all out.
"It's today, the anniversary, do you want to talk? I don't but I'm glad she asked, I'm glad someone asked.
"Did I say I'm grateful Nia, for everything you do?" I change the subject.
"Soppy pants, you don't need to, we're mates. When you feel ready to drive again, you will know, until then, Nia is at hand, pal."
I am grateful too, not just because she drives me everywhere and cheers me up daily but because she is just there, being Nia, rolling around at a hundred miles an hour collecting fun. I can't drive, I took umbrage with cars, gave up anything that required me to take control two years ago, I didn't trust myself, I still don't. She took over, without question, like we orchestrated a dance of friendship that just worked.
I couldn't survive without her, she is like my air. The day that Trevor lurched for me across the table I was trying to remove, Nia stepped in, I hadn't really noticed her before. She jumped in front of me just as his hand came down in a fist of anger; she quickly picked up the table, which took the blow. I dread to think what would have happened had she not been there. Would I ever have noticed her? I'm sometimes grateful to Trevor for bringing us together. She has become my summer during an eternal winter, my hope in a hopeless world. She took my hand, I was shaking, she rushed me upstairs to my office and thrust a sweet tea in front of me. She started talking about her life and about my grief as if I had known her forever, there was no effort, no pretence, It's the first time I cried, I broke down right there in my roomy impersonal office, infront of this woman dressed head to toe in pink and smelling of gardenias. That was six months after the night. The night I changed. I did change.
I made her my assistant the next day, and my best freind the day after that. Nia Pearson, lovable, reliable, angel of merci.
Trevor was at the staff door as we pulled up, I reached over and stopped Nia from jumping out. I wasn't ready for looking him in the eye. I wanted him to go in, so I could avoid his icy stare. I couldn’t face him yet.
"Watch him Molls, watch what he does." She nods at the door where he looks around quickly, to make sure he is alone. He turns the handle once, twice, three times, a fourth and fifth and he taps the door eight times. The he pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and rubs his hands furiously.
"Shit Nia, that’s what he was doing, the day I took his table, I was watching him from the window. He was tapping under the table."
"Oh my god, he's OCD!" "The poor man, it must be torture, I must have upset his routine, I must have humiliated him?"
"Don't make excuses for him, you saw the look in his eyes that day, he was seething, I doubt that is a part of OCD?"
"No, you're right. that was something else." She rubs my arm sensing how uneasy I have become.
"You sure you're ok with this?"
As Simon pulled into the service station to answer the phone that had been buzzing in his passenger seat for the past five minutes, He hesitated for a second and admired a leggy blonde that passed in front of him cradling a takeaway coffee and wearing a fitted suit. He liked a woman in a suit.
"Hey Sophia, I'm nearly there, I can’t wait to see you gorgeous, I can't believe we have two whole days."
"Does Molly suspect anything?" She sounded cold.
"No, she’s far too wrapped up in herself to notice Soph, as usual." He didn't mean to sound as if he cared and hoped she didn't pick up on it?
"Is that why you looked for me Simon?" I thought about if for a second, no it wasn't, sex was the reason.
"No, you my girl, dropped right out of the sky, just like an angel coming to save me from eternal loneliness." I cringe at my words, embarrassed by my own sleaziness. Not that it stops me.
" This is forever Soph, I love you, I just need more time, she's still fragile I can’t go yet." I administer more lies.
"It's been nearly eighteen months Si, I can't wait forever. It's so hard" I hope she'll meet someone else and get bored. I told her my secret, I wish I hadn't.
"Lets not talk now angel, lets enjoy our time, OK sweet cheeks?" I try and sound loving, I'm looking forward to screwing her later.
I place the phone on the dashboard and put my head in my hands. I don't intend to be with her for ever, Sophia mt sexy, young and fiery lover. I need the sex, the rest I can do without. I hate mtself for being so bloody weak.
Molly is my first love and will be my last, The last two years have all but destroyed our marriage. I am waiting until she comes back to me from where ever she is hiding. She isn't budging for now and seems to be holding on to the past with conviction, like it comforts her. I hope she comes back to me and wakes up to the fact our son is gone we are now three and not four? I'm not entirely sure if she is even capable of returning to me, but I know I will wait forever. I know all doors are locked to me for the time being. She's my girl, my funny, intelligent and sexy wife. I'm not sure how to go about winning her back. I'm a bloke; I don't do feelings all that well. But it doesn't mean I don't feel the exact same pain coursing through my veins. She thinks I am a bastard and I am for now, it's my way of dealing. Time we all need time.
If I'm honest with myself, Sophie is a great escape from the grief, albeit an expensive one. There is only so much I can put through as expenses. The flowers and jewelry come out of my pocket; She's become an expensive addiction. I know I'm selfish, but it's great sex, and a bit if flattery for a middle aged man. I know if I didn't have money, I wouldn’t have her, fact! I can't leave her yet, I'm not ready to have no one. I need my Molly back first and to satisfy my eternal hunger for sex. No matter how much Molly pushes me away, I still desire her, more so as she matures. There is something to be said for history, loyalty and friendship, it as attractive as a pretty smile or sculptured legs. Besides, if I leave Sophia now she will tell my secret, my guilty shameful secret. That will destroy me for certain. I lost one child, I can't lose Felicity too.
My daughter, Felicity George, is afraid to come back to the house, to the circle of grief we have built like a stone wall around a campfire, containing the fire. Our fire is still burning bright, flickering anger. We are holding on to it. Felicity, my uniquely talented and wonderful daughter. A daughter who has cost me the earth in violins, a virtuoso with a tempter. She is now studying at Oxford and hating me for hating the world. As bright as a button and a typical fiery red head. The day she was born, she came out screaming, as if her lungs were fit to burst, as if she was desperate to be born. She came with a full thatch of fire red pin curls and deep green eyes. She had everyone mesmerized, even her big brother; he adored her, they were more like twins. My eyes leak water, fuck it. I wipe them away quickly and fiddle with the radio dial.
I think of Sophia, another temper not to be reckoned with. I'm not sure if I'm attracted to strong women or I create them? Argentinean and strikingly beautiful, Sophia has most men agape at the very sight of her. Jaws drop and jealous wives elbow their husbands at the smell of her. she is an Olympian of beauty, twenty five, under wear model and pain in the arse.
Sophia, is never endingly curious, she would make a good detective. She is also sultry with hair of panther black silk and eyes dark hazel with golden flecks, whites as pure as snow. I met her at a bar, after winning a twelve month legal battle. I decided after the celebratory meal, after the others left, to carry on drinking. she sat alone eyes all over her. all male attention unnoticed, she was on the phone ranting to someone, I imagined a bloke, a boyfriend? She had rage in her eyes and a black dress that hugged her long limbed body very tightly. I have to admit she was drewel worthy. She took my breathy away. Her cheekbones screamed class and her full lips, kiss me. I knew I had to have her. I had others but she was a new league. An, I could screw you all year league.
I had a pang of guilt, for a brief second, until the ache in my loins took over and my middle aged ego shouted go for it. So I did. She threw her wine all over me. I felt stupid but even more determined to claim her as mine; I even think I fell in love with her that night, just a little bit. It didn't last for long, it never does. Molly has my heart. I followed her home that night then bombarded her with flowers and gifts. She fell for it, it took two weeks, they all do, get a scent of money and drop their knickers. I got my trophy, but I got more than I Bargained for. Hottest sex of my life and the biggest headache. She fell in love, encouraged me to talk about everything, in the beginning, post sex, when we were all tangled up and wine fuelled I told her everything. Now she holds it over me, like a don't-fuck-with-me card. I'm hoping that if I string it out, she will eventually find someone else. She could have anyone, why a middle aged loaded man? Because I showed her a vulnerable me, I poured my soul into the beginning - Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. That sums it up, I rushed, gushed my sorrow, my guilt, my heart. Too late to retract it all now. She knows.
Marriage suffers, sadness buffers, sex abandons, sarcasm lingers, flipping bird fingers, relationship rotting, Trevor’s plotting
OPEN FOR EDITING FROM HERE! CHANGE TO FIRST PERSON
From a very early age, she had an ear for music, a real unique gift and a raging temper to boot. God forbid she was to make a mistake, she had been known to smash her very expensive violins to pieces, if something didn’t go exactly how she wanted. She adored her big brother and had followed him around the house as a toddler, like a puppy and would get very frustrated if he didn’t want to play, she wanted his attention, all of it. He had been made to sit and listen to her screech her way through hour after hour of practice lessons. It had taken up a great chuck of his youth. He daren’t say no, nobody did.
After years of practice, determination and seventeen battered violins later, Felicity jhad mastered the violin and played excellently. A magnificent virtuoso, who had gained a place to study Music at Oxford.
Felicity had an acquired and eclectic taste in clothes and often dressed in oddly put together, colourful outfits, sometimes psychedelic and varied on era; paisley and seventies seemed to be a recent favourite. She had a vast selection of scarves collected from around the world three hundred and twenty to be precise and almost one hundred kaftans and she wore them all. Thankfully not together. Felicity was different.
Until three years ago Felicity was not only the life and soul of any social occasion, but also the hurricane that turned a party upside down and notched it up a gear. But things had changed. She was consummately broken without her big brother. She had nobody left to confide in, or to pick up the phone to and bitch about her room-mate. Or to drink hot chocolate with on their garden swing and talk for hours. Or chat to on their bench of whispers with its treasure chest of memories. She missed her best friend so much, she started to have dark days where she didn’t want to be here either.
Her parents were so selfishly wrapped up in their own heartbreak; nobody noticed that she was fading. Her fire had been extinguished and she needed help. Drugs were Felicities new best friend, the kind that would transport her away from her memories, the dangerous kind. She couldn’t even bear to be around the once sidekick of a family dog any more - Mogley. The siblings had sat for hours at a time up on that beautiful old bench on the cliff top, where had felt like they were on top of the world with their kingdom stretched out before them.
They had heart to hearts about life, or a good old moan about mum’s disturbing menopausal moods swings or dads new found hobby of cycling and they would cringe at how ridiculous his ever growing lycra wardrobe was. They had laughed together and shared secrets, sometimes cried too. She missed it all. So bloody much!
“What is going on with you and Simon Molls, are you going to put an end to this miserable marriage? You two don't even talk any more?” “it's like being in a room with a couple of robots who talk without emotion. She did the robot dance. “For mash make smash!” she chortled. “You don't even seem to like him?”
“I don’t know as I do Ni, I really don't, I am so sodding well mad at him for giving up, I could really quite easily punch him sometimes.” “He won't talk about it at all, he doesn't say his name, he has given up, how fucking well, could he give up on our son? How Nia? I don’t get it, that boy was his entire world?” Nia could see was about to bubble over and wished she hadn’t brought it up.
“I don't know Molly, grief does funny things to people, everybody handles things differently, you know. There are times you won’t talk Molls or can't talk because you are in too much pain. You just shut down and you only come back when you are ready.” “Maybe Simon isn't ready to come back yet?” “You know he is having an affair Ni?
“No, but I did wonder, who?” Her eyes searched Molly’s for any sign of upset and saw nothing.
“A girl, in London, I don’t know her name, but I am thankful to her, is that messed up or what?” “I can't deal with him and the time he is with her, I get my peace and my get to drink wine and I can watch crappy TV eat an entire bar of Galaxy and sit in my PJ's and sulk, I hate having to make an effort sometimes Ni.” “I know it’s wrong but I'm actually grateful to her, I’m not even the tiniest bit jealous, I actually feel nothing, I think I have been numb for the past three years, and I’m sure that’s not normal?”
“Molly, nothing for you is normal what’s normal anyway? I know the counselling didn't help, but who needs that when you have me, chocolate and Jean Jepardo?” “Now let’s go and drool, I'll stick the wine in the fridge you get the Chinese Menu.”
“OK Ni, what on earth would I do without you?”
“You'll never know.” Nia looked directly into Molly’s eyes to reassure her of this.
Mogley curled himself into a half doughnut in front the arm chair where Felicity used to sit and didn’t move for the entire evening. He had sat in that same spot every night for the past three years as if guarding it. Molly thought he looked depressed. She must walk him soon, it was usually Simon’s job and the garden was filling up with poop.
Perhaps she could take her Dad. He was waiting for her call, another problem she was trying not to face.
Molly thoughts turned to Felicity, head strong, beautiful Felicity. Not only was she vivacious and charming but incredibly talented too. Molly kept her distance she didn’t want to taint Fliss with sadness. If felt somehow wrong to include her in the circle of grief she had built for herself. That was her domain.
Felicity was doing so well and getting on with her life. Molly was almost jealous at the thought of her carefree and wonderfully unique daughter unleashed into the big world, no doubt turning it upside down, escaped from all the grief. She was better left alone to blossom.
She would come back when she was ready. Even phone calls between them had become few and far between these days, they seemed stifled and awkward and practical. Time, they all needed time.
Sister is sinking, father is blinking; regrets are rising, secrets arriving. The truth begins.
CHAPTER - Trevor
The first memory Trevor had of his new home on Henfryn Farm deep in the lush welsh countryside, was a monstrous basket of eggs. He arrived with his new mum and dad on a sunny morning through a freshly painted wooden farm gate. He was greeted by a stout woman Hetty, she was wearing hobnail boots, with no laces, a moth-eaten brown woollen jumper, a dark green corduroy skirt and greying hair with inch long grey roots that was once died light brown and now tied in a high tight bun. Her ruddy and slightly mud-smeared face was possibly the kindest he had ever seen. She was cradling a large baskets of pooh covered eggs to her stomach with a large pink hand. He had never seen so many.
She smiled at him and revealed just the one tooth that sat at an odd angle showing black root and it looked as if didn't have much longer. She greeted him with a big old bear hug that squashed his small pale face into her bosom. Her cheery farmers-wife smile displaying sheer joy. Trevor’s heart soared, he looked at the hay scattered across the muddy concrete and the chickens clucking around his feet and he beamed – his first real home, He was seven years old and the happiest boy in the world.
Hetty was his adoptive Grandma and was his adoptive Mothers Mother, she was a source of constant cheer and the best cook in the entire world. It didn’t matter that she smelt a bit like an open fridge or very rarely brushed her one tooth or that she was a burly woman with melon sized breasts and farm-rough hands, it mattered that she loved him so much he actually felt it, for the first time in his short life. Hetty would often sneak cake and a glass of milk into him at night and make up farm stories and cradle close him when he had a nightmare. She was everything he had ever dreamed of. His parents were often busy but seemingly pleasant but Hetty, well she was his everything. It seemed as if the two had been so lonely prior to their meeting, that they were now fully consumed with one another.
This hadn’t gone unnoticed by Trevor’s father, who after a few weeks had started to put Trevor out to work the farm and his days seemed to grow longer and the work became harder and his food became less with every passing day.
As Hetty started to get older and arthritis twisted her calloused hands and fused with her aching bones, she was rendered useless as both cook and farm hand, she was less able to be a companion to Trevor, instead spending more and more time in her bed resting and dying.
Every day after work no matter how exhausted, Trevor would kick off his muddy boots at the door of her old red brick terrace and run up the rotting stairs to her bedside. Where he would read to her from her poetry books or brush her ever-thinning long silver hair, tip a cup so she could take sips of water, or simply hold her hand as she struggled to breath. His one friend in life was slipping away and he was faced with a stony-faced mother and a bully of a father. His future after only two years began to look once again - bleak.
At Hetty's funeral Trevor stood alone under an old Oak tree, where Hetty had once sat with him scoffing home made pork pie and blackberry crumble pick-nicks, he sobbed so hard that he had made enough noise to prick the ears of his father who had later beaten him for being a pathetic weakling.
That’s when it began, that’s when bad things started to happen, food was rationed , sleep was deprived, bruises were acquired and fear turned to hatred then to bitterness then to evil. That’s when Trevor was re born with a new darker clarity and by the time he had reached fourteen his home was so saturated with insanity and cruelty that he was entirely fuelled with Lucifer's very own blood.
CHAPTER - friends
Cai Draper sat at his desk where he had been running through some last minute edits for a short film he was producing. He cupped steaming a mug of coffee in both hands, he clinked his Celtic ring on the side of his beano mug before and his mind turned to 'him' as it so often did and the wonderful times they shared together, his stomach ached with sorrow for his friend. He opened the drawer to reach for the photos of the holiday in the Lakes and closed it almost instantly. Still not ready.
He was due to meet Suzy later to catch up as she was back from a holiday in Thailand and would no doubt have a string of colourful stories to tell. It was hard, their best friend was gone the three amigos, now two and no matter how they tried it would never quite be the same. But he would go. He owed her that. They had grown up together shared secrets, knew each other’s stories, they were close, perhaps too close. He had to go.
The café was alive with tourists; sand was all over the stark tiled floor. Flip flops, and ice creams were out in abundance even on such a drizzly day. Seagulls swooped in to take whatever they were offered, or not. The cakes looked as light and fluffy as ever. He smiled at the familiar smell of their meeting place. 'Hibiscus' He ordered two large slices of Lemon Polenta cake, a favourite, and two Americanos. He sat behind the floor to ceiling window transfixed by the sea. He stared at surfers silhouetted against the grey sky, straddling their boards waiting for the wave. He missed the sea and the lure of the surf. He still couldn’t go in.
Delicate but cold hands cut into his thoughts and covered his eyes. “Hey you!” he was surprised to see Suzy had her hair chopped off into a cropped elf like cut. It suited her, she looked bronzed and glowing. He realised he has missed her. “Wow Suz you look stunning!” and they embraced, love flowed through them but she pulled back quickly avoiding his smoky- grey eyes. Fearing she might just kiss him there and then.
“You look good too, if a little grey around the sides.” she smiled and ruffled his hair.
“So Thailand, wow, was it amazing?” “Yep, better than amazing, it was unforgettable.” Her familiar flowery smell made him smile.
“Holiday romance?” He was hoping she would say yes.
“No silly, I went to do some good old thinking and clear my head and try and move on and, it did me good Cai, I mean really good, I thought about so much, away from here.” “I think we should go up to the Bench?” She noticed he still wore the ring, she had lost hers years ago.
“No excuses Cai, we should order a takeaway hot chocolate like we always used to and go sit and talk, like we always have, that shouldn’t have to change Cai. We both miss him.”
“I don't know if I am ready yet Suz.” “Well I am making you ready. I'm going for the drinks.” He lowered his head and his sun-kissed fringe caught on his long dark eyelashes.
“Oh bugger, there’s Molly and Ben with Mogley, they are going up there that would be too awkward. Next time, but we are going to go?” Suzy pulled her mouth to one side in a what-to-do smile.
“OK, I will, we can meet next week and I promise we can go. I just can't face Molly today, it’s always too weird.“
Storms are brewing, secrets accruing, love is leaving, Suzy believing. Mistaken begins
Today the sea mist rolls over the cliff tops and hides my view of the mountains. The dust on the ground has tuned to sloppy mud, and the grass is sodden and shiny. I can hear the whispers, they seem louder today. More urgent and I am willing myself to speak with them. They ignore me, I think, exclude me. I hear a weird beeping noise, very faint like they are trying today, trying to reach me. I have a good feeling. I see two black figures in wet raincoats trudging up the hill. No voices, just sludgy mud-sucking footsteps and stooped heads. I see a dog, a fat black Labrador, rain sliding off its coat. It comes and jumps on me all wet and messy and shakes off the rain. Two figures appear a woman in her fifties and an older man. They sit on me. They take their hoods down and fine drizzle settles on their hair, He brushes long slender fingers through thick cotton white hair making grey wet slices, his face is lined and leathery and punctured with pale grey eyes. Her long wavy rich brown hair is tied in a thick ponytail. The milky pale skin on her oval face jewelled with big frosted almond eyes, her nose is small and slightly upturned. I like her face. She turns her face up to the sky enjoying the wet that soaks her skin.
“Hey dad, it’s the first time in three years, I have sat on this bench. It feels good.” Her voice is soft and sad, she is crying but smiling and the man takes her hand and pats it softly.
“Well Molly, you had to do it sooner or later.” I notice the man is crying too. Man crying, the water glistens as it falls but his face doesn’t change, he wipes away the unwanted tears, his voice doesn’t falter. I sense he is crying at her sadness as much as his own. I start to detect a soft vibration and what I think is warm. I have listened to over 3000 conversations and never felt this before, I count them, I don’t know why. Perhaps the whispers are trying extra hard to get in touch today.