A Lifetime Of Moments


As a young man of twenty-three I was, like many people, an actor of sorts, who could fill any role, or in my case undemanding job, until the sterility and boredom of it all became suffocating and I engineered a way to terminate the post by means of getting sacked.

I was a junior in a sales office, marketing products of no interest to me to people I did not care to meet, but with a smile and urgency of manner which told everyone, “This boy has found his destiny,” but that was not the case. Truth was, I had not found my destiny, and that is why I took that or any job. To eat and shelter myself and then walk out in the streets of London at the weekend was all I had or wanted. I was adrift within myself yet had no knowledge of the fact.

Anne-Marie, don’t you love the name, was one of those girls you would not reach. I saw her at some gathering my older sister, a “hippie-chick” of sorts, had organised on a whim, because just to have a party seemed reason enough have one at that age. I stood around awkwardly at the edge of the room watching events, and marvelling at the sense of “Having arrived” and “Being significant” that so many people in the room enjoyed. Not me.

Of all the girls there, and girls were an abiding if unrequited interest at the time, Anne-Marie stood out as someone beautiful, yet careless of her looks. By her side, or was it the other way round, was a man, slightly older, I’m guessing, about thirty, whose confidence and presumed right to be with her were evident in his posture and the manner of his speech. He was not a junior salesman I suspect, and gawkoids like me did not engage his interest.

Sometime in the evening, as I stood near the kitchen door, Anne-Marie passed by me on her way to fetch a drink, and asked me, “What brings you here?” I said, “We are still trying to find out” and she laughed lightly and looked at me is if I had surprised her before passing on her way. Her manner was uncomplicated, friendly but impersonal, like some well-trained air- hostess on a trans-Atlantic life.

Move on twenty years and I was the new Health and Safety Advisory Officer for the Feltham and District Fire Brigade, a posting I had acquired through a couple of fake references and a “connection” on the council: fresh enough in the job to still be urgent of manner, real and committed to the task. I was sent by chance to go to the local art gallery, where an Anne-Marie Birchland was exhibiting her paintings. I was married at the time, to a woman who misunderstood and loved me to destruction. I protected myself from her fussing by daydreaming and stabbing at the piano.

When I arrived at the gallery, dressed smartly in my new uniform, there was the artist, and I knew it was her again. She walked over to me, smiling in her turn, and asked, “What brings you here?” and I replied “We are still trying to find out” and then she said, “I thought you were a salesman” and I replied, “ I’ve been many things but seldom me.” The phrase sounds slightly adolescent now but she smiled and touched my arm, and then moved on. Reticence ended the conversation.

Move on twenty years and I was now a song-writer of sorts, poor it must be said, but with a growing reputation and now uncaring of my circumstances as long as I could write. Walking along the street in my new local town, somewhere in the midlands, I saw a sign saying. “Exhibition of Paintings by local artist Anne-Marie Southgate” and I wondered if it was her, despite the change of surname. Of course I went in and she was there, still with that beauty and courage which had impressed me in my youth, and sure enough she smiled and came up to me and said, “ What brings you here?” and I said “You ” and we began talking as two people can who have just met, yet known each other indefinitely. Her presence was in my destiny.

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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.

31 Responses to A Lifetime Of Moments

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    This is lovely. She’s like a reassuring tether in a life of floating uncertainty.

    Like

  2. **poor it must be said, but with a growing reputation and now uncaring of my circumstances as long as I could write. **

    Sounds like my life!

    Gorgeous piece, Peter. xxx

    Like

  3. Echos of a life gone by.

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  4. gotham girl says:

    Love this…“ I’ve been many things but seldom me.”

    Like

  5. Some people are just destined to be connected.

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  6. tmezpoetry says:

    Gave me chills!

    Like

  7. As always, beautifully written and expressed. Thank you.

    Like

  8. Don’t know how it’s possible, but your writing continues to improve, Peter. This snippet, “By her side, or was it the other way round, …” is so subtle yet so filled with meaning. Brilliant writing. The entire piece moved me. You do that, you know! 🙂

    Like

  9. russtowne says:

    I especially enjoyed this one, Peter.

    Like

  10. Ina says:

    This is lovely. I like the repeated dialogue. And it struck a chord as yesterday a man who was my bf 35 years ago came to visit unannounced and that was quite pleasant. As we are both happily married, it is not such a romantic story though 🙂

    Like

  11. Scarlet says:

    You ‘ol romantic! Would love to read their first conversation 🙂
    Sx

    Like

  12. olganm says:

    Beautiful and heartfelt. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  13. laroseedespetiteschoses says:

    Lovely, gentle and so subtle, I love it! Thank you.

    Like

  14. I love not only the sense of fate/ destiny/ or whatever that you have captured in this piece, but also that hint of how events might have been different, and how life can turn on a moment. The repition of wording and phrasiology works perfectly as reinforcement. A fine story!

    Like

  15. This is wonderful! So wonderful that I wanted to be one half of them! 😊

    Like

  16. LindaGHill says:

    What a wonderful, captivating story. I’m glad I stopped by. 🙂

    Like

  17. What a fun story. Boy grows up, but a much more complicated way than is usually displayed. Well done, Peter.

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  18. Finally popping in, Peter and loved this piece. Your writing flows with wit and underlying pathos, always entertaining. I especially liked: “I was married at the time, to a woman who misunderstood and loved me to destruction. I protected myself from her fussing by daydreaming and stabbing at the piano.” And I could relate – well, the ending might be a meeting between me and my ex, who was – is still – a very talented woodcarver. Does it count that both of our creative work was in the same silent auction recently? Another 🙂 Your books are going on my kindle very soon.

    Like

  19. ksbeth says:

    i loved how they kept crossing paths and the final paragraph, where he finally found himself.

    Like

  20. I’ve now read this post twice. I particularly enjoyed your description of your twenties. I am currently at that age myself and in so many situations, I too feel as if I am acting. It often seems as if my behavior is only a character that I am playing, that the impression I make on others is only something that I have pieced together, some approximation of a person. I too stand at parties and marvel at those that seem to have certainty and conviction about them. And like yourself at this age, I too have inhabited numerous, unfulfilling jobs, acting, again, presenting a persona, that while suggesting professionalism and competence, is entirely fraudulent as I lack any substantial knowledge of myself. When I was younger, I always imagined that by this age, I would be much more certain, but now, everything still seems vague and unformed. I liked how, by the end of this piece, when approaching Anne-Marie, as an older man, you were finally direct about your interest. This seems to suggest that age brings about deeper knowledge of self and increased confidence. And while popular culture glorifies youth, it seems that some things actually get better with age. Thanks for sharing your writing, here. Its really quite beautiful.

    Like

  21. restlessjo says:

    Got to win some of them, Peter 🙂

    Like

  22. nelle says:

    Wonderful… a smart progression fully in character. Like this one a lot.

    Like

  23. Peter, as usual, a piece full of insight into humanity, with the well-chosen words and wit I’ve grown to expect from you. I recently picked up your newest book. I’ll be reading and reviewing very soon.

    Like

  24. genusrosa says:

    I love the subtle development of both character and relationship, Peter! And in such a short piece; masterfully done. One of my favorites so far…though you do deliver a lot of ‘favorites’…😊

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This definitely had a little of an romantic air to it. Beautiful writing Peter.

    Like

  26. Marquessa says:

    I simply love your writing style…sweet👍

    Like

  27. Globalresidence says:

    Beautifully put together! Wishing you a great week ahead! 😃😄

    Like

  28. terryspear says:

    Excellent! I wish I could write like this! 🙂

    Like

  29. CC says:

    Reblogged this on But Otherwise Fine and commented:
    Why do I relate to this… A wonderfully written piece.

    Like

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