Life In The ‘No’ Lane

By my middle years  I had built a living through using measurable skills, habits and routines so I could live, celebrate or exist in some safety, away from the shellfire endured by those who are careless of their wellbeing and happy to venture beyond those boundaries created for our survival by common sense.

On Wednesday I ate chicken on a bed of freshly boiled spinach. Thursday was mince and peas on a bed of rice, with onions,spices and chilli for a bit of heat, and so it continues. I played golf with the same group of people every Saturday afternoon and my handicap was unchanged in fifteen years. On weekends at breakfast I would have nothing but toast and marmalade. The marmalade brand might differ, but that was all. I could sit there with my paper, always delivered, and discuss the merits of one brand against another  with anyone who would listen, or a fly.

I was not a risk taker, adventurer, free thinker or explorer but if you wanted an opinion on the use of  alloys and protecting cement abrasions in construction work I was the man to ask. I never took a risk in my entire life, but, armed with my skills, I skirted round visible dangers and moved quietly and determinedly towards a well-planned retirement, and then there was you.

Every Saturday I took my coffee at the local café and one morning  you were there, speaking in some eastern-European accent. “Are you living Mr” you asked me and I looked up and saw your impish challenging face:  the very look of you was demanding, and seemed to be asking, “Is this all you are ?” and I grinned uncertainly, because you made me feel ashamed of my choices.

You were like a moth, a bee, a flower or muse, who would challenge me to cast aside the apparel of boredom and face life with demanding urgency. Like all adventurers you  gave advice without a thought for consequence, but we know how stupid men can be don’t we, and I was nothing special.

Beautiful, quirky and personal, you talked to me as if I mattered. As if  you had been looking out for me to enter the café  and I felt myself laying aside my caution and willing to risk anything for a sense my life could still be beautiful, enchanting and unplanned and make me worthy of your attention.

I had a wife of sorts. Someone who grumbled at my every movement, and who was quick to observe how boring I was. We ground against each other in that habitual way so many of us describe as “Being happy with our lot.”. We were predictable, but not uncaring of each other’s welfare, but now there was you: smiling, flirting, taking an interest in a man who did not merit it. Seeing something in me which no one else had seen until your smile became the highlight of my week and then its ruin.

For some reason, as I passed you to buy some ketchup from the shop one morning, you reached up and kissed me, or bumped faces or something: a clumsy joke of sorts, nothing and everything, but with just that hint of danger thrill-seekers like a taste of on occasion. I was baffled more than anything, but also touched.

Someone saw it happen, on the street and in broad daylight. She must have told my wife because two days later my wife met me at the door when I returned from work. Her eyes were dark and had the anger in them it takes a generation to create. She  said, “You disgust me,”  and I understood her. It was the first honest conversation  we had held in a number of years.  There are so many ways to be a fool I’ve discovered, but later I found out you were just saying goodbye. You left as abruptly as you came, leaving the questions you posed  as your parting gift.


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Life, Love, Peter Wells, Relationships, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Life In The ‘No’ Lane

  1. elainecanham says:

    You’re such a good story-teller Peter. I really like the way you’ve used the second person narrative, that’s hard to maintain. Trouble is, I want a next episode now. Does he go out and change his life, or does he stick with the marmalade?


  2. catterel says:

    Another tantalising peek into a boring life turned topsy-turvy – I’m wondering if it0s the same woman who keeps messing up the lives of all your middle-aged male characters? Or is the world full of femmes fatales?


  3. gh0stpupp3t says:

    My sister loves mallards. I’m going to send her your blog so maybe she can add you. 🙂


  4. Such a tease – and yet so insightful. So much of live is far from deliberate. So often it’s the choices we don’t make that impact us the most.


  5. Al says:

    Something tells me this gentleman will be bumping faces with a few more adventuresome ladies in the days to come.


  6. gotham girl says:

    We need part two!!!


  7. I guess that kiss awakened something that needed to be awakened after all. Nicely done.


  8. I love your stories….they are so plausible and real. As I read the words, I see the pictures in my mind’s eye.
    I would love to read a novel written by you, I am quite sure I wouldn’t be able to put it down. Janet:)


    • If you click on that picture half-way down the post it will take you straight to Amazon where a copy of my first book, “Living Life Backwards” can be purchased. My second, “The Man Who Missed The Boat” is due out on April 9th. ( 10th for the paperback ) I’d love to know what you thought of it when you’ve finished it. Your interest is very much appreciated 🙂


  9. And therein lies the crux of life and the ‘grass is always greener’ philosophy. Sometimes being able to see different outcomes based on different choices seems appealing, but, then again, where does one stop- how many ‘lives’ does one want?. It’s all a bit ‘Sliding Doors’ – is now the time to mention that I thought of writing a story along similar lines years before the film (but never did!)? – or does that come across as sour grapes?
    Excellently written, Peter. As ever hugely enjoyable with a deeply profound under-current.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ksbeth says:

    and, bam!!! excellent wake-up to life story.


  11. Cecilia says:

    You are a great story teller!


  12. I loved the balance to this story, Peter. Excellent pacing and an ending that was just right, not slap in the eye what a surprise, just right.


  13. I’ve come in and thought you were talking about your own life. These things happen and if this if fiction which I gather from the comments that it is you have done a great job as I found it totally believable. I’ve already read the next episode . Good writing. I’ll be checking out your books.


  14. judithhb says:

    Again, totally believable Peter. Will we hear more of this man and his angry wife. Will her anger dissipate and their lives return to the humdrum?


  15. This is brilliant! A wonderful story from a great story teller and I just want to keep on reading. Wonderful, Peter.


  16. “Her eyes were dark and had the anger in them it takes a generation to create.” Now that’s exquisite writing!


  17. nelle says:

    Perhaps she also gave an answer.


  18. Scarlet says:

    We just never know how we affect those around us, with our winks and whistles. One nod in the right direction can be life altering.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.