Recollecting His Brief Permanence

The doctor’s words  slid across his mind, played with his future and settled on the hand in front of him. His hand. “Three months at most”. The words were not ambiguous. He had a period of mobility, and armed with pain killers could cling to normal routine for a while longer.  Routine, which had been his most loyal companion. His order in an uncertain world: the habits between him and a  fear of the chaos somewhere beyond the horizon.

Eighty- three years old and not much to show. A couple of children. Lovely in their own way but gradually estranged by his lack of  circumstance.  Somewhere in later middle age he had lost his way. He now  assumed the air of nonchalance so essential to survival in an urban landscape. His career was distinguished by a lack of progress.  His character by a failure to grasp the importance of the everyday. To make a  sandwich taste like a banquet was his lasting talent

Like some insect  in the desert he had become adept at whittling out nourishment and emotion from the bleakest scene. Making a feast from a titbit. Treasuring a passing view, but his time was mainly spent in solitude with music as his companion. Friendships cost money, and that was in short supply. “Not to worry”, he thought, “I’ve got  memories”. And so he had. Journeys abroad filled with adventure. Parties where common sense had left the room. Meetings with minds who touched base with life’s eternal questions. Women who moved him with a tender curiosity. Who enjoyed ,with him, moments of suspended reality among the coffee cups, the tousled sheets and the bric a brac of a careless life. In turn, they left him for more certain landscapes, but  without rancour. They had their needs, and he could not fill them.

By and large the place he sat in was full of known and unknown faces typical of a tourist venue. The rusty stalwarts like himself. Same table. Same coffee and a newspaper sat among the passing tourists who talked more loudly than the locals: excited by their new adventures.

Chance and coincidence were all that refreshed him, and there she was, a visitor from another land, another time and just across the shop. He remembered their conversations, lying there in bed. Her red hair, now grey, spilled out across the pillow. “You love life don’t you. You drink it up” . Her words had never left him. “It’s all I have” he replied  and they had laughed.  Now here she was, forty years on and sitting with a family, settled with her grandchildren and the picture of ordered and polite common sense. Across the room their eyes met and hers were warm: familiar but final . A nod is all it takes to share a history. He had three months but now he knew that part of him would live on in others . In their memories. Perhaps that was the right place for him.


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

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

13 Responses to Recollecting His Brief Permanence

  1. mikesteeden says:

    A master storyteller at work again…I do rather enjoy your posts in that regard. Superb.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic, and very poignant.


  3. joey says:

    Brilliant piece. I think there’s a bit of these people in all of us. Moments in time, those memories, I can exist like an insect in the desert on some of them, myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, the power of memories.


  5. A superb vignette, Peter. I think that many of us hit a point like this in our lives, which is what makes this tale so moving. What makes it sad is that, two generations later, the memories are mere memories related by another (if you follow me). As ever, a high quality product of your ever fertile imagination.


  6. To live so that those meandering memories bring momentary smiles, and maybe a tear or two. This is a treasure we can keep at our side.


  7. Al says:

    I’ve resisted saying this for a long while, Peter. I am damn jealous of you for your ability to write like this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ksbeth says:

    beautiful writing, as always, peter. a nod, after all, speaks volumes.


  9. gotham girl says:

    oh my…brilliant as always…but perhaps a little more than usual. Loved this one so much. Thank you.


  10. Well done. Isn’t this true, when one lives to that age, regardless of how many friends we started with? We are in the end fairly alone. And to me, that’s OK.


  11. All these efforts to be remembered, live on, leave evidence of oneself after that self is dead and gone—monuments, memoirs, manifestos, money divvied up in a will—and for what? That ego we cling to is going to be just as dead (and I’m guessing won’t be caring too much about anything). We humans really do think quite highly of ourselves, don’t we? 😉


  12. Scarlet says:

    A nod is all it takes to share a history So true.
    Loved this.


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