Fate And The Ordered Life

Geoffrey Longridge, a widower of twenty-eight years standing, lost his young wife as a result of a car accident leaving him childless and alone. Emotion was something he employed sparingly, and in his memory of her he had a reservoir of intimacy which had provided all the nourishment he needed. Her photographs were everywhere in his house and mind, and conversations with her departed soul remained the most urgent in his life. She had been his co-conspirator, his map and compass, and without her he had become a mannered and directionless soul, living a dutiful life working, latterly as the chief librarian in his local town.

His sensibilities,  central to his life, were tuned to connect with ideas and vistas rather than people so that he had a quality of civilised distance about him which marked him out in the community. He was more the receiver than the teller of stories, but you could tell the quality of your words by the power of his response. He had an undercurrent of sensibility not often revealed in his manner or conversation. Sometimes, in a stubborn attempt to awaken interest in an artistic dimension among the local population, he would invite speakers to give talks at the library on matters literary, or sometimes just to recount their recent adventures. He loved the way some small event could make an individual discover themselves.

So it was that he invited a poet, who had recently returned from the tropics, to give a reading from her latest book of poems: the product of her experiences there. Her sense of life and its adventures seemed exotic to a man whose formative, and then more mature impressions, were gathered throughout a life bound by ritual and routine within the small English county where he had lived and worked all his life. At the appointed hour she arrived at the building and he guided her to the room were a small but appreciative audience applauded her entrance. Brief introductions were made and then the poet began her recital.

The audience was moved by her assurance and intensity: her words igniting their dormant imaginations. She was the living embodiment of artistic courage, a dramatic reader of her own verse, and the audience responded to her urgency. At last the reading was over and, noticeably, the applause at the end of it was more real and energised than the polite clapping of hands which had signalled her introduction. After the event, poet and librarian sat together on a bench near the entrance and looked at the abstract painting before them, which seemed almost like a conceptual map of imagination.

“Do you like abstract art ?” she asked him earnestly. “Yes” replied Geoffrey and suddenly he seemed to be no more than a puppet. A will stronger than his own pushed him forward and he found himself kissing her forehead, then her cheek and finally her lips with a release and abandon which, till now, had been entirely alien to him. She was the first women to whom he had opened himself in twenty-eight years and he was stunned by his own actions. Instead of shrinking away from him she seemed to be somewhere between the polite and receptive as he talked to and then kissed her in turn and again. Finally, without any comment on his behaviour, she told him she had a dinner engagement. They rose from the bench and he showed her to the door.

He had no address for her, apart from her email, or any knowledge of her circumstances, excepting some blurb on her website and after she had gone he sat down again and stared at that painting as if it might supply him with an answer. What does a polite man do, living largely within convention, when he has stepped outside himself and kissed a lady so? The painting offered no advice.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

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

41 Responses to Fate And The Ordered Life

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    But that might have been just the nudge he needed to live again.


  2. gotham girl says:

    Totally agree with Carrie…and I bet he’ll never look at an abstract painting the same way again!


  3. catterel says:

    Now our imaginations are all working overtime to continue the story – probably the best place to leave poor Geoffrey. I for one don’t want an unhappy ending 🙂


  4. The answer lies in the poem. Lovely bit, Peter. You had me in the first paragraph.


  5. Marquessa says:

    Loved it! Especially that second line!


  6. I do love your writing….it has the quality of a Japanese garden – with so much negative space….for the reader’s imagination:) Thank you.


  7. Those artistic types…they’re nothing but trouble (except when they’re not)! 😉


  8. Stalk her and hunt her down!!! Good god man, haven’t you heard of the internet!!?


  9. cjhallum says:

    Good stuff, definitely has that 19th century bent to it.


  10. parttimefortuneteller says:

    This was really beautifully written!


  11. kayuk says:

    If, by chance or fate, we meet
    to share a moment of fire,
    will we spend melancholy hours
    or revel in thoughts of the flame?


  12. ksbeth says:

    she was sent to open the door for him –


  13. Lucid Gypsy says:

    What a generous lady!


  14. I suspect that he will retreat deep into himself and ponder what each action and movement meant; and then question and re-question himself until he perceives it to be too late to take any action.
    Stimulating writing (as ever), Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Scarlet says:

    you could tell the quality of your words by the power of his response
    I am standing up applauding and clicking ‘like’ buttons left right and centre 🙂


  16. Al says:

    Geoffrey and the poet….like two ships passing in the night….except, of course, for that near collision where they swapped a little paint.


  17. How delightful! What a neat and perfectly contained piece of writing, Peter – you do build your stories excellently. We are, of course, left wondering what he will do with his awakening… which is a delightful place to be left 🙂


  18. restlessjo says:

    Love Al’s remark, but I find myself cheering the gentleman on. Life’s too short… 🙂 You do write beautifully, Peter.


  19. Wonderful as always Peter! Let’s hope the poet has been instrumental in leading Geoffrey to a new life of endless possibilities. I wonder if we will ever find out? More on Geoffrey perhaps? I hope so 😊


    • Thank you as always for your lovely comment. Shall I tell you how crazy WordPress can get. You are one of my dearest friends on this site, and have been commenting on my Blog almost since the invention of the biro, but suddenly I’m asked if I want to “Approve” your comment. Just shaking my head here and hoping you are having a lovely Sunday. Look forward to reading your new Poetry book, which I will then review of course.


  20. 😄 That has happened to me quite a few times! WordPress on a rebellious day 😊. Thank you in advance for buying the book


  21. Hello Peter, I’ve just found your blog and want to say how much I enjoyed your story! 🙂


  22. The answer is in the story itself : “He loved the way some small event could make an individual discover themselves.” Laurel’s Reflections said it perfectly about how you build your stories – so I echo that!


  23. I think this style of writing gives another layer to G’s character– “So it was,” “at the appointed hour.” Seems like this is how he’s been living as well– politely, appropriately, but without a tactile experience. It has a fitting rhythm for this regulated person.

    I’m intrigued by the passion that makes him a puppet. I’d love more description of this, and of her reaction (as he sees it). Or maybe him replaying it at home later.

    He’s a compelling and surprisingly sympathetic character– nice!


  24. Peter,
    you are deep and overflowing w/ substance and depth. I so much appreciate your words. xx


  25. Well, obviously he googled her, found some sort of a contact email, and wrote off to tell of his feelings. She wrote back, they had a long literary relationship, and their letters are now in a museum of art (or literary) history.
    Love the story!


  26. Interesting and intriguing story.


  27. This is intriguing. Interested in hearing more.


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