The Ultimate Sacrifice


He loved her in his non-committal way, and  every morning without fail, as he left their home, would say, “Enjoy your day,” and wave his hand to emphasis the  comment: he didn’t believe in altering routines! His wife, was more expressive than him, she thought, and with just that edge of manicured hysteria which markes out the gifted; setting her apart from those who munched their way blindly through life, like soulless cattle feeding from the trough.

“He doesn’t love me. Where’s the hunger ?” had been her silent cry to any lover, but still her husband cared for her in every material way and her wardrobes spoke of everything but neglect, yet she, clinging to her version of lament, was past noticing those truths wrapped in humdrum details.

Alfonso, her new landscape-painting tutor, whose class she joined two months or more ago, searched her soul with brazen soulful eyes, ravaging her composure with those words of his, dispelling the air of boredom which was her signature reaction to the world around her. “Love has no boundaries and no government, he said.  “It sweeps all before it. It sculpts us with its passion”

“Oh yes” said Karen, for that was her name, ” What depths this man from foreign climes possesses: he is both painter and a prophet!” and so when he suggested she displayed a raw if untrained genius with her brush , so he must coach her privately at his home, she agreed without hesitation and soon with a deft, dare we say practised, hand he removed her clothing proving, once again, that love hath no boundaries, and, he might have added, “Can be vague about morals.”

Two souls caught in a sublime light: fragile beings trapped in a dull suburban landscape: oh how they longed for a more glorious backdrop, with moonlight and the scent of  tropical flowers to celebrate their newly discovered urgency. Both of them lacked resources, which stifling fact threatened this sacred union where eternal joy and beauty both found sanctuary.

Lying awake in bed, some time after husband had drifted off to sleep, she said to herself, “No more of this” and determined to remove this dull pedantic obstacle from her path. “You are not worth another moment of my time” she mouthed silently to his inert figure as her  delicate heart filled with chilling purpose.

Promising herself to reveal her thoughts to no one but her lover, she investigated poisons which could kill, and yet leave no trace within a couple of hours. Impressively, she managed to obtain some after requesting help from her darling Alfonso, who had brought her to the gates of paradise and wished for nothing but her happiness, recognising their life and love together required a larger canvas and must not be denied by suburban morality. Her husband, they agreed. could show no greater appreciation for his wife’s frustrated genius than, leaving this earth, allowing her to make their dreams come true.

As it happened, her husband, dull beyond all powers of description, and without imagination she believed, tasted something odd in his first mouthful of soup and raising his eyes, saw the fearful unease she tried to hide as she stared back at him. Somehow he understood her plan, and sadness more than anger filled his heart. He loved her beyond definition but she sometimes could be a silly: now she clearly wanted free of him, if not his wealth.

With calm deliberation, he filled his spoon again, and looking back at her said, “Lovely as always.”  Her heart filled with remorse and something approaching self-knowledge, but as she opened her mouth to tell him “Stop,” he swallowed the noxious liquid. His dry acknowledgment reminding her of his unspoken gentle qualities, but now the die was cast, and his eyes, filled with uncritical love, dulled, then ceased to shine  as he tipped sideways off his chair leaving this life without unnecessary comment.

“Heart attack,” the doctor said. Truth be told his own mother was ill and he, distracted and not that fussed with this routine event, allowed Justice to sleep a while longer, so the romantic pair could set off on their enchanted voyage of self discovery. In time our heroine sat quietly on the beach while Alfonso, her new husband, reminded his growing class of ever younger ladies how “Love has no boundaries” and neither,  it seemed, did his appetites.

He seldom commented on practical or domestic matters but he might remark, if pressed, that he never let his wife do the cooking.

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Living In The Moment


Now working as a kitchen porter and being bullied by his boss,  an unloved harridan, herself at the wrong end of an unhappy marriage, and easing her sense of bitterness by taking out her life on others, he knew that to be long-suffering was his last resource if the rent was to be paid.

In former times, after university, when life seemed to offer him limitless choices, he had been careless of strategy and other tedious practicalities. He was more interested, always had been, in noting how buds formed so beautifully in early spring or dwelling on an act of kindness involving helping someone across the road or anything which did not incorporate a plan for his personal advancement, protection or forging a career: whatever that mysterious word might mean.

Talented without a doubt, yet his whole life had involved a debate within himself on the nature of consciousness, and he used his observations always and only to enrich that conversation. Girls had come and gone and each one had concluded soundlessly that he had no moving parts as far as ordinary life was concerned. In earlier times he had seemed impervious to changing circumstances till, after some decades, he found himself trapped in drudgery and living in cellars among the forgotten and far beneath the world of love and celebration.

“What do you want?” a friend had asked some decades before and, as always, he had stared into space before finally saying “Nothing,” which was fine and noble in its way but of no use to him or anyone else who thought to build a life with him. Now he smiled at his naiveté, or was it deluded arrogance, which presumed the gods would protect him with their magic and keep him from harm by others or himself.

Walking along Oxford Street in central London his attention had been caught by a huddle of people and some booms and microphones indicating a film or modelling shoot: on impulse he wandered over to see what was going on. As luck would have it, the crowd parted briefly enabling him to stand quite near the front and see an actress deep in conversation with a man: he recognised her immediately.

Sandra Cartwright had briefly been his date many years ago while still at university; a noted beauty and someone with the air of a promising future about her even then. “You see things others miss” she’d said to him, and smiled at him as one does if you feel truly recognised. He’d taken her out on his birthday during their second year, and shared his sense of celebration with her, as yet undimmed by facts. They’d kissed and enjoyed a brief intimacy but soon her natural canniness became evident and she gently removed herself from his embrace and then his life.

In later years as fame rewarded her carefully managed talents, he had followed her career in the newspapers, and had seen her in the company of acting royalty celebrating her sense of having “Arrived.” Now here she was, lost in her work and filming a scene, no doubt, to add to her successes. As if by instinct, feeling his gaze on her back she turned around to look and her eyes widened in surprise because she recognised him immediately. He raised an arm in friendly greeting and then walked on.

To impose himself on her at this late stage, given his circumstances, would be less than fair, he understood, and understanding was all he had to offer.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

It’s That Time Of Year Again!


Can I wish my readers a really lovely Christmas. I hope everything goes well, you are surrounded by those who love you and, if you are doing the cooking, a road drill is not required to gain access to the possible taste-heaven which lurks beneath the crusted surface of your dish, or would do if your catering is anything like mine.

Hopefully your 2019 will be full of good things and may include the odd post from yours truly. I always appreciate your support

Posted in Christmas and New Year, creative writing, Life, Peter Wells | Tagged , | 30 Comments

What Year Is It?


I woke up in another place, in another time, sitting in a chair and staring at a man I had never seen or met before. “ Hello” he said. “I wondered if you’d wake up here or just return to your time “present” or whatever you call it and think this was a dream”

His voice was calm and he seemed to find everything about the situation normal, though we both know “Normal” is an apparition served up to make life bearable.  

“Who are you?” I said, and he replied, “I’m your great-great grandfather’s older brother, so a connection of sorts before adding, almost as an afterthought, “Have you found love, I never did?” It seemed an odd question, but perhaps it was question he kept asking himself and anyone he met: I did not reply!

To explain, I am a man approaching his seventieth birthday, whose life has been a patchwork of misfortune and good luck, and here before me was a character claiming to be my relative: a man I’d never heard of in my entire life.

“You might recognise the chair you are sitting in” he said, and when I looked down at it, indeed I did. It was the armchair I had inherited from my father, killed when I was young and a sentimental resting place I relaxed in after working in my study.

I raise my eyes to his, no-doubt filled with unease, and he said, “There is something odd about that chair, clearly. Those in it are sometimes posted to another time although only to people who have previously owned it, as you do, if only for an interlude. Would you like a drink while you are here?”

“Yes please, a large whisky would be nice” I said and he smiled, “My favourite tipple too” Every life’s a battle between the lies and the unsettling truth or at least mine has been. How about you?

“ Do you speak  in anything apart from profundities” I asked. “I thought it was about surviving and supporting your family” but still I think I knew what he meant: I hope I did. I looked back at the wreckage which was my past and laughed as people do when they meet someone who  might understand them. He replied. “If you meet someone who has travelled through time you don’t tend to waste the moment discussing the weather, or at least I don’t” and he smiled.

“What year is it anyway?” I asked and he told me it was 1906. From my pocket I pulled out my mobile phone and said to him, “Do you know what this is?“ and he smiled and shook his head so I continued, “There are going to be many changes and events in your future but I will let you discover them for yourself. ” I did not want to alarm or depress him by saying his world was moving towards the numbing destruction which was the First World War!

Strangely, he seemed almost untroubled by my reticence and said, “The essentials are the same: you know everything changes but then nothing does”

As he said that I moved from one “present” to another or awake; you take your pick: the whole thing seemed a fantasy apart from the glass I was holding in my hand!

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A Passing Memory


Sitting with my wife and grown-up son waiting to board the train to Cornwall I saw a lady from my past walk by, catching my eye as she had so many years before. She was my first wife and the woman I loved and lost before the time I had discovered the conflict between appetite and judgement.

She said nothing but her eyes asked “Do you miss me?” and the answer will always be “Yes.” Back in those reckless years I indulged in a night of passion with a colleague only to discover a month later that she was pregnant:the matter was made worse by the fact that soon all at work heard the news and the unspoken question to me was “Are you honourable,” though clearly I was not.

Like many men of appetite I pretend to be moral with those who do not know me, and that pretence caught me in its grasp, forcing me from the marital home: abortion was not an option in those years and standing by the woman, any woman you had placed in social jeopardy, the unspoken rule.

She,my first wife said she would forgive me and I remember her crying as she said it: I was crying, as I told her the news, aware of how I had allowed myself to lose her presence and fall through a trap-door into that pitiless and indifferent darkness we call misery: I am left acting “happy” while self-knowledge eats me from within: non-committal and merciless.

On instinct I found myself rising from my seat and hurrying after my first wife, my dear and only love, who I had not seen in thirty years. I grabbed her arm and turning her round said to those familiar always treasured eyes “Don’t you miss me?”  I knew I could never lie again when I was with her. “You were always more in love with yourself than me” she said before freeing her arm and walking from my life again.

Turning round I saw my wife, the controller, staring up at me and with my son at her side. She said. “ Do not come to Cornwall!”  

The truth, it seems, is best avoided  and seldom comforting!

Posted in creative writing, Fiction, Love, Peter Wells, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Meeting A Home Truth!


I’d entered the winner’s circle: wealth, travel and: ( check,check,check. ) women:  mine and any one else’s I could charm. I could walk into any restaurant and they would say, “On us sir” and I would nod, because modesty is part of the package. I was a known speaker, whose financial visions had been aired on television. I had children by more than two women, all of them cherished and nurtured because that’s what civilised people do. My money was my own to spend in my lifetime, but my children could inherit my insights to light their future, and trust in their own abilities.

All, well and good. Pat on the back for the big man, and mine’s a large one. Oh yes, I could  ” Hang out”  with the crowd and sniff a line of something: drink without regard to safety and spread the word that life’s a party once you find the invitation. Sometimes I might go “missing after action” and wander the streets recalling fragments of my childhood.

I am the product of Manchester parents, a cleaner and a decorator, later divorced. My childhood was scrapped together in those fleeting moments when my father was sober enough to remember he had a home, and my mother was not accepting her compensations from passing strangers. Me and my older sister used to sit up in the attic pretending we had parents, and that somewhere just out of sight, there really was a field of green.

My sister is my only friend: my constancy. She lives a quiet life married  to a man of routine and then there is me. I have been that watchful, wild man, who knows more than he should and takes more than is his, because we are all bandits are we not: some braver than others?  I walk through a landscape of my own making and leave others to talk of world peace and comfort themselves with new furnishings, until now that is.

Out late at night, and slightly drunk, I met a lady sitting on a step, and of similar mind to mine, staring up at what London street lights allow us to enjoy of the night sky. She looked at me and her face filled with recognition.  “Your that famous fucker” she said and I nodded as modestly as drunks  can do. Just as I was about to accept her admiration she followed up with “You’re full of shit, and the sad thing is you know it.”

Truth is seldom comfortable  and often arrives unexpectedly so I was silent and then I asked her “What her grief was?” and she introduced me to her life. She had been a photographer in Afghanistan, recording the pain and trauma of a besieged population. She had travelled across the Arctic, and sat in deserts in India swapping languages. ” And as for you, ” she said, ” You made money and used it to avoid criticism: the cowards victory. Do something better with yourself.”   I offered to help her, of course, because that’s what patrons do, but she just laughed it off and walked into the night. Brave and independent. she was a women who travelled through life without the aid of maps.

The light does not shine on every diamond. Some jewels are wrapped in modesty and never worn for display, but in her anger, born of weariness and contempt, she brought me to a life of context. In her I found another sister.

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Life By Chance


It was only an hour since we’d met. She had missed her train and I missed mine, both of which were taking us to different parts of the country. Now we had to wait for five hours, or six in her case to catch the next connection.  

I bent to pick up the small parcel she had dropped and, while she thanked me, we both noticed there was only one table left in the waiting room and, with a smile, we took the unspoken agreement to share it.

Don’t ask me the why or how, or if stars were aligned, fates joined or destiny was speaking through the railway timetable but as we talked, it was if doors opened into our hearts and we shared connections richer than any I thought possible.  

Although our schools were single sex and catholic, it turned out that she had been to the girl’s school in the same town as mine, both of which shared some of the same teachers. From there we moved to music, food, a sprinkle of political leanings and anything else our minds drifted towards: there was a synergy only the gods could have thought of and we revelled in their kindness.  As the hour hands drifted slowly towards the time when we should part, there was an urgency about our conversation it would be hard to miss. Let me explain. 

She was going to Manchester to stay with her sister for an indefinite period owing to some catastrophe in her personal life, and I was going to Southampton from where I was sailing to America, probably never to return, touched as I was by the recent death of my wife and the decision to live with my daughter and her husband who had made their homes over there. 

Finally as the time ticked away a sort of panic filled me, and I could see it mirrored in her face. To make light of the moment I picked a coin out of my pocket and said “Look, heads we get married, tails we don’t. What do you say?” and she replied, “What do we have to lose!”

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