Honed in solitude, and far from any track, at a time when lifeless legs kept him exiled from the throng, his mind had moved where his limbs could not, through distant concepts and landscapes travelled by imagination. Books, he reflected, might inform you, but they never shout or pour you drinks. His was a distilled existence spent in self-reflection, slightly touched with bitterness. Alright his time had given him insights few possess but at a cost. Always the cost. And yet, because there must be an ‘as yet’ the bitterness had borne this unexpected fruit. The website where rudeness finds a sanctuary grew beyond his wildest dreams.
Now he was free of encumbrance or commitment ,sitting in a mountain top hotel in Peru; looking at amazing scenery and sipping a cocktail from a tall and slender glass. The cherry on the stick just made him smile. What to do with that? He was not outgoing. Never would be. That brief foray into vulnerability all those years ago, as a faceless crippled junior in some office, had taught him all he needed to know about that state of mind.
The softness of her needs and innocent gentle spirit had wrenched him from his solitude and bought him to a place of desperation where only manners saved your dignity. He paused and cleared his mind of unnecessary reflection, passing his gaze across the scenery. Touched by mist and with a purple hue its timeless beauty and indifference was cleansing to the soul. This was the world he understood. The physical incarnation of his mental state. He turned to check the emails on his phone.
The words were brief and to the point. “Save Me”, was all they said, and signed by Laura Cunningham ( nee Patten ). A name stored in his memory.
A month later, somewhat against his better judgement, and moved more by curiosity than interest he was in the lobby of a London hotel sitting with her , still recognisable but somehow different. They shook hands and then sat down. He asked her “How have you been”. “How has your life been”.
Looking at him tanned and free now from his chair she lost the poise she struggled to retain. He seemed kindly but detached from her marooned existence. In some ways there had been a role reversal. She moved her arms in desperation. “Oh Bill” she said, “I’ve been so stupid”. Words poured out of her in an unstoppable torrent. She marvelled at his health and mobility. The eyes before her were reflective.
Guarding his composure was a requirement. Perspective was everything. Remaining detached from events was more than a way of life. For him it was a fortress: a sanctuary against the vagaries of human intercourse. This one exception. This single cry now challenged his hard-won retreat, Dawn always renews our sense of beauty, he observed, but was it echoed in her eyes. She rushed around, trying to engage his interest, now more like a wilderness, seeking her rescuer. Something in her tears caught his attention. He asked himself a question. Was a there a life based on hope or was this just chaos in a dress ?