Arnold, whose mind was not gripped by the everyday, lost as it was in fractured dreams, would rather be anywhere but where he was: locked in a stale relationship and funded by a job he found less rewarding than eating dust sandwiches, but then there was always a soothing drink and the looks, his “other woman, his future wife he hoped,” Sandra, gave him when he went into her shop: those looks which were becoming ever more personal he thought, intimate perhaps?
Sandra, was a busy girl, “On the up” as she used to say, whose most urgent energies where taken up with holiday brochures and ministering to the needs of her boyfriend Richard, who owned a restaurant up the road and surprisingly drove a Bentley. His parents had been wealthy, and so was he, but he could not sit idly by all day looking at inherited paintings, whatever their value, so had started a small business to pass the time which then turned out to be seriously successful, quite possibly because he did not need it to be so, who’s to say?
Richard had his insecurities, as did she, and only the mad do not perhaps, but somehow in that well-furnished wilderness he called a life she supplied a warmth which otherwise had not touched him. His father’s favourite sayings “Life is not personal” and, “If you have a problem, no one is interested!” might hold truths but offered little comfort to a small boy trying to discover his worth.
He was a mere twenty-five years older than she was and full those obscure insecurities we hid behind bravado, an urbane manner and, in Richard’s case, the ability to buy you an expensive meal but with her he was more real: “More ‘real’ than he had ever been.” He told her.
All that is by the by, and was unknown to Arnold as he walked back home full of daydreams about another life where he and Sandra might speak openly, admit their love and plan to furnish a home of their own: that he was married himself was a detail unconsidered because life was wearying enough without tarnishing your dream with facts.
At last, on Valentine’s Day, full of a love made larger by a drink or three, he walked into her shop armed with flowers and told her that he would love her always and they could both step away from their hampered lives and build a home together.
As he walked into her shop she had some trouble remembering who he was, though she knew he was a regular customer who sometimes made her laugh but she was less than pleased with this announcement and asked him to leave her shop forthwith, never to return.
At a loss, and confused by the outcome, he walked back home and lay the flowers on the table thinking at least his wife would be pleased to get them: she always liked a bit of romance!