That Forgotten Face

The only thing which proved that life was bearable was that he was still living it. Given any choice but suicide he would have changed his circumstances to anything but this; his current situation. Of course that thought had been with him many times, and in previous positions, following a string of impulsive actions, each one leaving him worse off than before, till finally his only possession of note was an air of noble and apologetic regret.

Now working as a kitchen porter and being bullied by an unloved harridan, herself at the wrong end of an unhappy marriage, and easing her sense of bitterness by taking out her life on others, he knew that to be long-suffering was his last resource if the rent was to be paid.

In former times, after university, when life seemed to offer him a thousand choices he had been careless of strategy and practicalities. He was more interested, always had been, in noting how buds formed so beautifully in early spring, or dwelling on an act of kindness involving helping someone across the road or anything which did not incorporate a strategy for his personal advancement, protection or forging a career, whatever that mysterious word might mean.

Talented without a doubt, yet his whole life had involved a debate within himself on the nature of consciousness, and he used his observations always and only to enrich that conversation. Girls had come and gone and each one had concluded soundlessly that he had no moving parts as far as ordinary life was concerned. In earlier times he had seemed impervious to changing circumstances till, after some decades, he found himself trapped in drudgery and living in cellars among the forgotten and far beneath the world of love and celebration.

“What do you want?” a friend had asked some decades before and, as always, he had stared into space before finally saying “Nothing” which was fine and noble in its way but of no use to him or anyone else who thought to build a life with him. Now he smiled at his naiveté, or was it merely arrogance, which presumed the gods would protect him with their magic and keep him from harm by others or himself.

Walking along Oxford Street in central London his attention had been caught by a huddle of people and some booms and microphones indicating a film or modelling shoot: on impulse he wandered over to see what was going on. As luck would have it, the crowd parted briefly enabling him to stand quite near the front and see an actress deep in conversation with a man: he recognised her immediately.

Sandra Cartwright had briefly been his date many years ago while still at university; a noted beauty and someone with the air of a promising future about her even then. “You see things others miss” she’d said to him, and smiled at him as if he were important. He’d taken her out on his birthday during their second year, and shared his sense of celebration with her, as yet undimmed by facts. They’d kissed and enjoyed a brief intimacy but soon her natural canniness became evident and she gently removed herself from his embrace and then his life.

In later years as fame rewarded her carefully managed talents, he had followed her career in the newspapers, and had seen her in the company of acting royalty celebrating her sense of having “Arrived.” Now here she was, lost in her work and filming a scene, no doubt, to add to her successes. As if by instinct, feeling his gaze on her back she turned around to look and her eyes widened in surprise because she recognised him immediately. He raised an arm in friendly greeting and then walked on. To impose himself on her at this late stage, given his circumstances, would be less than fair, he understood, and understanding was all he had to offer.



About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

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

24 Responses to That Forgotten Face

  1. mikesteeden says:

    Dashed sad tale of a born loner…a rare breed, a self-sufficiency to be envied a little yet best left at that. As ever it is the read that is superb and you achieve this devoid of ‘hooks’, a thing I find most difficult.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A nice little story, though sad. It makes you want the best for the MC, and hope that his kindness and thoughtfulness never changes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A shame…I was seeing him as a kept man, after all this time. Either that or I’m sure he would have had a promising career at Greenpeace.


  4. gotham girl says:

    oh..such sadness…


  5. bloggeray says:

    How beautiful and sad at the same time! Brilliant yet again!


  6. Perhaps walking on this time might be yet another move he might come to regret… alas, a beautifully written piece. Somehow at the start I’d thought he was pretty much a loser, but as I kept going, I sympathised with him. What magic you do with words.


  7. Poor guy just doesn’t get it.


  8. Al says:

    There is a price for “stopping to smell the flowers” as it turns out. I, myself, have made partial payment.


  9. A lovely chap, but one sadly not cut out for our materialistic, self-centred world. Sensitively written, Peter.


  10. Kia / KTS says:

    I’d have to agree with another commentor.. this was so beautiful but it definitely had a sad undertone to it. Thanks for taking me to a far away land.. even if it was for a few moments. Loved reading this.


  11. Sometimes the greatest gift is the note of recognition – and the best thank you acceptance of the gulf.


  12. ksbeth says:

    you have a gift for the bittersweet.


  13. mistermuse says:

    This post deserves recognition as much as the protagonist in your story, but being the realist that you obviously are, I suspect the appreciation of your readers (and ducks) counts just the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. nelle says:

    Poignant, yet her chance notice of him perhaps rekindled a dormant wish to explore beyond the superficial. Leaving it to our imaginations is always a fun way to go!


  15. You continually touch my soul w/ your beautiful, heartfelt sentences. xx


  16. The palette life selected for him is rich in beauty, and it is good to remind ourselves sometimes there are other ways to riches that don’t involve money. So this is only sad if he perceives it as such and sets all he has gained at nought. I’m intrigued by this obsession with material success, and how readily a ‘successful’ person bandies about terms like ‘loser’ and ‘ne’r-do-well’. It reminds of that song: ‘we hardly saw the crossroads, and small attention gave to landmarks on the journey from the cradle to the grave’. So, for me, great writing, but I can’t empathise with the character.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I always enjoy dancing along with your muse, Peter. 🙂


  18. Ina says:

    Sandra, please run after him and buy him a coffee… His ethic heroism has such sad consequences, I would love to see a happy ending but that is probably very cliché…
    Real life can be harsh but also beautiful. Usually it is a mix. Material wealth is nothing compared by the richness of growing as a person. Great write. x


  19. bidisa says:



  20. Argh your characters make me feel so achingly sad sometimes! You never fail to capture moments that give a full sense of a life in just a few paragraphs. Sending love xx


  21. beautiful story Peter.


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