Indiscrete Memories


Her face was like a map of the forgotten world or maybe just a nightmare, lined, creased and tired, but there was a quality of defiance about it which drew you to a second look. Those smoker’s eyes, I knew, were full of memories and insights, good and bad, blessed or wrapped in regrets and moments of euphoria created from a fabric of the finest chaos: drink, I suspected, was her refuge and her jailor.

I met her at a literary conference where the great and good rose and spoke on marketing and I, somewhat at a loss, had gone to see if I could finally get a sense of creative direction. She, it appeared, had been the first secretary of the main speaker some twenty years before and had been invited to attend the conference by him out of a longstanding loyalty. The guru had his wife and eldest daughter with him and everything was clearly above board, but she was knowing in that chaotic way “the lost” can be when they look in your eyes.

“Buy me a drink” she said, standing slightly closer to me than was necessary. “I’m slightly rushed” I said, looking around me as if there were people I should meet, but of course, she knew I was just avoiding her. She’d been there a thousand times in many situations, but still she snarled, “Be off pretty boy,” which clearly I was not. At a loss now, and not wishing to be rude I said, “Just the one then” and placed a protective hand on her back as if I was wise enough to guide her. She looked up then and her face came alight which was somehow more disturbing: too much happiness, too much warmth: you know the thing.

Drink in hand and pointing at the principle speaker she said, “He was gorgeous when he was young, lovely, and he still sends me Christmas cards if he’s got my address.” Clearly a decent man but then, in his youth, when she was working for him, she implied he had not yet learnt the distinction between wise actions and those which offer brief excitement.

As she started to unravel her past before me the great man in question came over and said, in his apologetic way, “Can I borrow this gentleman for a moment” and with that he whisked me over to the far side of the room. “Best not to get too involved there if you catch my drift” and I nodded my assent. “She needs someone to look after her though” I said and he nodded in his turn.

She was one of those people you invite into your life at your own peril and clearly she knew more about our guru than he would like to be known by others but, despite that, there was a loyalty between them. The connection was her most precious memory, a source of pride to her as was his constant, if discrete, compassion. Perhaps, in her turn, she “saw” him before others knew he was there, and he would always remember that.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

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

17 Responses to Indiscrete Memories

  1. I like the way in which these characters have a shared past, especially in the how they are willing to share a snippet with others, whilst maintaining a tight grip on the real crux of their relationship. A well written piece, Peter.

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  2. Conferences are always a very, very fertile filed for poking into the lives of others and some odd cross section.

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  3. As usual, you’ve captured the human angst. ‘…a protective hand on her back as if I was wise enough to guide her’–that’s perfect.

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  4. LRose says:

    Reblogged this on The Blog Propellant and commented:
    Peter Wells aka Countingducks is a wonderful storyteller who has, on occasion, popped in to have a “like” around TBP. Enjoy this wonderful recent post of his…

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  5. seraph4377 says:

    Reblogged this on Dreams of the Shining Horizon and commented:
    A beautifully bittersweet story by Countingducks. Here’s to the beautiful train wrecks: to the friends we couldn’t save from themselves and the mistakes we’ll never regret making.

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  6. I suppose we are all deeply flawed but still capable of giving each other a bit of what we need.

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  7. ksbeth says:

    they each knew the other to be the person they really were and not who they portrayed to the world. and that is their unbreakable connection. and their secret.

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  8. I don’t know what it is about this line, “Her face was like a map of the forgotten world or maybe just a nightmare…” that I absolutely love. Oh I know.. you’re writing is amazing.

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  9. asklotta says:

    Beautifully written! I felt as if I had seen her before (feeling sorry but mostly judgmental). But yet don’t we all feel extremely uncomfortable by those who are socially unpredictable?….I just wanted to get space between me and the both of you! Nice job!

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  10. laroseedespetiteschoses says:

    “…her face came alight which was somehow more disturbing: too much happiness…” I like this description…beautifully written!

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  11. michelevenne says:

    Some wonderful lines!

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  12. Matt George says:

    Very perceptive of human behaviour…very real…nicely captured…
    First the feeling of not wanting to get involved, yet lingering on long enough to take the bait then gratefully yet somehow regrettably rescued by someone who knows better who’s been there before…
    Scratching a match might be fun but putting out a fire once ignited quite another thing…

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  13. nelle says:

    Relationships are best not when we are perfect, but when each individual bares their flaws as well as their strengths, one to another. We stay out of the strength, there is nothing left to hide.

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  14. This was a great read. The way that she opened up to the narrator and shared an intimate detail about her past reminded me of the biographer character in Season 3 of House of Cards. He talked about an “addiction to access” or something along those lines. Basically, as a writer, people shared their stories with him in great detail and he was hooked on their secrets.

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  15. When others “SEE” you, it’s really a beautiful thing, isn’t it? xx

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  16. eliz frank says:

    What a sad story…. I’ve known a few personal assistants who sacrificed all for their devotion to the boss. I feel her pain and sense of being lost.

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  17. It made me cry I hope that is a good recommendation for you Peter. Awesome story and I feel her loss as if it was myself being lost.

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