Unmeasured Lives


I walked into wilderness looking for myself, far away from those who would recognise me. I hoped to lose my history and to begin with all I sought for was a quality of cleansing. There was no one left to miss, and no connections to be maintained so here among the harsh Moroccan landscape, where only the heat of the sun offered difficulties, I felt the noise fall away and reached out to the stillness. Across the scrubland I saw goats grazing on what looked like rock and desert: there was no chatter here, no gossip or mindless curiosities, survival food and shelter were the sole worries of the day and I had left the town with enough supplies for a week, determined to live in solitude as best I could. Trouble had become my closest companion and I needed some time away from it.

Before I left the town I had gone into a café for one last coffee. Sitting alone at my table, looking around me, I saw a girl of European extraction sitting on her own, highly unusual in itself, and with her face leaning against the glass of the window by her seat. Her eyes were looking in an unfocussed way across the square. As she sat there, half slumped against the pane, I saw a tear leave her eye and move slowly down her cheek, followed by another. There was no sobbing, or any movement to articulate her misery but just the tears.

At last, becoming conscious of my gaze, she turned her head to look at me: her eyes were entirely non-committal. You know how it is when you are off balance: your approaches, your interactions, are clumsy at best but moved by a need to connect, by curiosity and compassion; I walked over to her and said. “Do you have a name?” and she said “No” in a tone which implied, “Not for you.” At least I had the sense to walk away: I realised I was in no fit state to offer a helping hand. Perhaps my journey would bring me composure.

When I return, if she were there, we might begin a conversation; an idea I already knew was based on fantasy. I realised all I should have done was offer her a tissue. No conversation was required. Out here, in this wilderness, with nothing but grazing animals around me, I touched an acceptance of myself and my life, and with it, the birth of an understanding for a lady who asked for nothing but her privacy. My mind is owned by ghosts, fragmented conversations and impersonal uncertainties. I have reached my impasse but still I hope she finds a pathway out of hers.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

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

18 Responses to Unmeasured Lives

  1. Ina says:

    Beautiful. So much story in what is not said.
    (I was in Morocco on my own once, in 1979. This could have been me 🙂 )

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  2. Al says:

    We all have a lot of “do-overs” we wish we could have. Here’s one of my biggest…..https://thecvillean.wordpress.com/?s=Regrets%2C+a+few

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  3. gotham girl says:

    beautiful…I’ve had on my wish list to do for many years…to head out with a sheep herder and just do exactly what you’ve described here. I’ve been to Morocco three times…so perhaps the fourth time will bring my wish to fruition!

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    • I have actually walked out into the desert of Morocco and it has an amazing dry heat which is strangely not tiring, and the dunes and the shadows between them are truly remarkable and, no-doubt, inspired your beautiful photography. Such moments give a life its depths 🙂

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  4. genusrosa says:

    Ah…Reading Peter, once again; that took me many places–I identified with both the He and the She in this. Would love to be able to venture forth into that desert journey of story and discovery. Love your work.

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  5. Unsaid words, undone deeds, are the fabric of human thought. Too often, the things we say and do are those we wish to foget.

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  6. I suppose it’s kind of awkward when we see someone have a private moment in a public place. Personally, I will usually just walk on, though I suppose a simple gesture might be best.

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  7. cecilia says:

    When I started to read your piece, I thought the narrator could be me. Then the girl came and I realized that also her was pretty much like me. Until it became clear you were describing me talking to myself. thanks

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  8. You have lots of company in believing solitude begets answers.

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  9. This says so much without words, Peter, emphasising that sub-conscious connection that we (if we are lucky) occasionally come across. A fine piece of writing.

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  10. ksbeth says:

    i’ve had the experience, more than once, when i have my ‘aha!’ moment after an event has passed. i try to learn from them –

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  11. Beautifully and exquisitely dealt and put those emotions Peter.

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  12. Can I just say, I’ve missed your stories. And you definitely didn’t disappoint when writing this. Thanks for taking my mind on a trip.

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  13. Lovely, Peter. I thought it read like a Debussy prelude… sensual, vague, spatial, evocative…

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  14. joey says:

    This is so well done. I love how much is said by what’s not written. You’re very good with subtlety, and even though your pieces here are short, I always get sucked right in.

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  15. Beautifully and tenderly written, Peter. When you described the flow of tears with sobs, I remembered a time (actually many) when that happened to me. Your writing touches so many people in so many different ways–reminding us of our collective humanity. That’s a gift.

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  16. brilliant piece peter.

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