The Incomplete Life Made Whole

I do not have a home: I have a place I sleep in adorned with photographs of my wife who died five years ago, before this place became a museum owned by fading memories. I will love her forever, we all know that, but her words, spoken to me on her deathbed stay with me now, “Do not live alone: “I thought that was impossible!

She was the most precious being I could imagine, met at university, who took a gauche boy and made a man of him, stuck by him while he found himself and walked with him up the path of life. Each breath we take is a miracle and every step I took with her was touched by wonder and I thought she would be with me always: brown of hair, then grey, slim then slightly rounded, patient always and with a wisdom which granted me the sense of being home.

Even at her death she worried about me because she considered me hopeless in all practical matters and so I am. Fussing over her was my forte and loving her, my skill; and without her I feel robbed of purpose and of cause.

I have a job, managing a credit control department whose work people tell me is important to the company, and so it might be. I try to do a thorough job of it but what matters to me, what I care about, is the people in it and the happiness in their lives.

I have seen a loved one die, a woman whose life was irreplaceable to me leave this earth, and as she left it she did not tell me, “I was the best clerical worker at A.J Lamingman and Sons.” Who cares if she was or was not, though I think she was!

To me she was that portal to another place, another dimension where we are all children, awed in the face of the life we are free to dream about;  filled with the challenge of living it, and the majesty which greets us at each mountain-top, or in the faces of people who walk the path of consciousness expressing courage and decency.

“Do not live alone” where your last words, and I hear them every day, and now they sound louder and louder still, because some lady joined my department who looks nothing like you, but in her is your gentleness. I told myself to be professional, held myself together as best I could, but it was beautiful to see that quality, but in another life, so one day I said “Lunch with you would be nice,” and she said “And with you.”

Now we are to meet this Saturday and my thoughts turn to you, my special darling, who made everything precious in my life, and I can almost sense you smiling at me and blessing the path I tread, and telling me once again, “Do not walk alone.”

Posted in creative writing, Fiction, Love, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments

My Wedding Day!

The clock beside me said 6:23am: digital and with unmoving hands, time  seemed to be standing still it seemed to me. At 2pm today I would become a married man and what was rising through me was raw unprocessed panic: the knowledge I was on the edge of a terrible catastrophe!

I’d had doubts, of course, those are normal, but suddenly I realised I was walking into a form of prison where personality is not allowed to express itself and only general patterns of behaviour are permitted. Did I want to be that conventional!?

My family loved her, my parents loved her, my friends were impressed that I had “tagged” someone so presentable and sensible but now, at this “late hour” I realised I had been herded to a pasture called “Common-sense” and I could not bear the prospect. I loved her, of course, and that gentle way she dealt with failings, of which I have many, but her kindness was suffocating me, and the idea of being trapped in this union seemed unbearable.

As the rest of my family slept in the house around me, I packed a bag and crept down stairs. Using my key I opened and closed the front door as quietly as I could and then hurried away up the street before anyone could see me.

I had no plans, panic always has no plans, but escaping was all I could think of and I would explain myself another day. At this early hour the tube station was not open so I just kept walking towards the next one, worried that someone from my area would recognise me and ask me what I was doing: that did not happen.

At last, at 7am, the stations opened and I planned to go to Euston but first I travelled on the circle line going round and round while wondering about my life. I had no strategy except possibly going to Manchester, where I had been a student and whose streets were full of memories, adventures and those trysts which remind us we were not always domesticated.

Calmer now, I began to think a bit about what I had done, and some confusion ran through me because, I must admit, I am not an easy man as you may have realised, but Sarah had that patience which can bring peace to any soul as she had mine. What she saw in me I cannot say? While thinking this fear flowed through me, but from the other side: was I wrong?

Perhaps she was the one girl who could tame my chaos and help me make something of my life, but now it was too late: my absence would have been noted and people would be trying to reach me. Needless to say, I had turned my phone off so no one could trace me: how would I explain myself?

To try and settle my nerves I did what all wise men do; left the underground, entered a pub and bought myself a drink to calm my nerve: I needed to do some ordered sensible thinking. The fates are not always kind, and sometimes seem downright unpleasant so as I raised my second double whisky to my lips I heard a song I love come from the speakers, “If you leave me now,” by Chicago. It was one of my dad’s favourites and he used to play it and swing my mother round the kitchen to its melody: she’s passed on now and he’s married someone else but those memories always linger don’t they?

At last, as far away from common sense as you can travel in a lifetime, I returned to the underground to complete my journey: the time was 11:03. I was full of indecision and regret and uncertainty and almost any kind of “Un” you can imagine, but I was too embarrassed to go back: Sarah would never forgive me, and perhaps the news had already got through to her.

I arrived at Euston station at around 11:20 and walked towards the departure boards, as ruined by his own stupidity as any man can be . As I did so, I heard a voice I recognise call out my name: it was my step-mother’s elder brother, doubtless on the way to the wedding and not one of my favourite people. “Steven” he called. “What the hell are you doing here. You are getting married in two hours!?”

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Love, marriage, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Repeating Memories

It must be thirty years and a marriage ago, when we were returning to my lodgings in a taxi following my birthday meal, when you folded yourself into my shoulder and looked up at me in a way which could only say “Kiss Me.” It was the most powerful and romantic encounter in my life.

The driver was so taken with our closeness and the air of gentle tenderness that he refused to charge us for the journey, saying we had made his evening which became part of the magic which set that night apart. I remember how we sat on the bed and how, without awkwardness, you removed your top to reveal a picture of beautiful and naked loveliness: I could never dream of you being under the same roof as me and in this state, and yet you were.

We spent the night in each other’s arms, kissing frequently and on the edge of an intimacy which I could hardly imagine, though boundaries were observed.

That was the last and only time you shared my bed and let me kiss you. Perhaps it was your brief flirtation with reckless emotion, I have no idea, but you had that canny awareness which comes with being ambitious and a sense of who might help you on the journey: I was not one of those people.

Now you walk among the great and are decorated for your efforts while I remain lost in thought and imagination, writing books to eke out a living. Locked in a marriage held together in mutual disappointment, but without the willpower to end it, I place your person in my stories so that once again and always we may kiss, and you can look me in the eye and find fulfilment. My wife, a non-romantic who has no knowledge of the episode, shrugs at my naiveté and my appetite for sentiment, but I, and now you, know that all I’m writing is our history as I wish it might have been.

In that attic called your memory, amongst the awards and recognitions you have gained, the travels and adventures, and the causes about which you speak so passionately in the newspapers I always wondered if you ever recalled our moment together yet here I am holding a letter from you in my hand?

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Love, marriage, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

Reflective Gibberish

Sitting at the company’s New Year’s Eve party, I raise my glass and murmur the words “Absent friends” because, let’s face it, the people here are not my friends! Not that I would say that out loud, because those in the know call that a “Career Crusher!” Of course, we all need an occupation and being part of the crowd is central to survival but I ask you, who wants to be friends with a man like Mathew, the head of our department and unpleasant to boot?

I better come clean here and tell you, upfront, that he is married to my sister. Every look he gives me shows he regrets that decision, but we can’t always be canny and “Mattie “slipped up big time I must admit.

I love my sister in that theoretical way some brothers must because it is the polite thing to do, but once she’s got bored with being charming the bossiness seeps out: our Mathew knows that now!

Not to say Mat’s a poor fellow because he’s not! He fights back, of course, often by making my life unbearable, and there is a further complication: the main reason I got my job, and Mathew got his, is because my step-father owns the business although he doesn’t work in it himself: my relationship with him is also on the uncertain side of poor

My mother was a looker in her day, an attribute I might have inherited except I look much more like my birth father who did the decent thing by dying young and leaving his wealth to my mother: she grieved all the way to the alter at her next wedding, two months after his death, snaring her much older and even wealthier husband, my step-father, on some foreign holiday purchased with her “Windfall!” I was not on that trip, of course, so I met him later, after the whirlwind courtship and marriage in the Las Vegas “Church of Our Eternities.” I might be rambling here, it’s what I do in the non-physical sense, but hopefully you get a feeling for where I am.

Here’s the magic ingredient; Matthews’s sister, Emma, is with him at the party and she has smiled at me on three separate occasions. Might not be wise but perhaps a date is in the offing or would that be a stroll down death row? It’s coming to me now, after my “Absent friends” toast perhaps I should raise a glass to “Uncomplicated lives!” What do you think? Is there any more whisky?

Posted in character, creative writing, employment, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Discovering Martin Glubervitch

Sludging into that unfocussed area which was his middle fifties, sometime after the innocent optimism of youth had been expended on one or two false starts, career-wise, and with a failed marriage under his belt, Martin Glubervitch was struck by the lack of admiration given to his figure and his person when he went into his favourite café for morning coffee every Saturday.

As he sat in his customary seat reading his newspaper, he noticed other figures, sheathed in the glistening apparel of the committed cyclist, were getting the admiring glances his rounded and accepting profile failed to attract. The “lightbulb” moment is well documented in respected circles, I understand, and his found him later that day at the “Fulcrum Cycling Emporium,” byline, “Fitness is not a matter of taste,” where a challenged assistant was trying to find an outfit which would wrap itself around his portly frame without occasioning unnecessary embarrassment.

Like many a “Retail counsellor” who found nothing really suited or even fitted the customer, he got the nearest fit he could and then said, “Oh yes sir. That really brings out the inner sportsman in you.” Mark, who lived in a compliment free zone, smiled at this unexpected praise and said, “Really” while swivelling his figure from left to right in front of a mirror, designed not to shed too much truth on the vanities of passing dreamers.

The crucial purchase made, Mark returned home and, sure enough, the following Saturday he shovelled himself into the outfit and set off in sporting style towards his morning haunt. As he entered the café nothing was said directly, although a small wave of coughing may have caused concern. Once more he sat at his normal table, with his habitual newspaper and, as always, the waitress brought over coffee in her non-committal manner.

After about ten minutes there was a small commotion and a lady who could be described as, “Larger than life,” asked if it was alright if she joined him, which she did without waiting for his answer. As he looked up to give the required glance he couldn’t help noticing that, like him, she was wearing a close-fitting cycling outfit although her soothing figure suggested that sporting activities were not part of her regular routine.

“Are we tempted by the cooked breakfast?” she asked him and he smiled: her eyes were full of recognition. “Sometimes,” he said to himself,” We have to leave the house in order to come home.”

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Diary Of A Lost Soul

I walked those gardens where we met, a lifetime or was it two ago, holding your hand within my own, feasting on that gaze of yours, so full of trust: the source of my tranquillity.

I saw the tree on which our names were carved and thought of how we smiled, merging our joint destinies: in you was everything I sought. You saved me from myself at last, granting me my self-belief, but strengthened by your blind support, I let myself new conquests find, each one of which you forgave till I exhausted all your faith in me: I was man lost to himself, abandonment posed as bravery, who fled from purpose, or any sense of dignity. 

You married someone else, I hear, and lived the life you offered me, while I walked on a thousand miles, reflecting my dreams are scarred by grief. 

Man may travel without rest, seeking for his Promised Land, that sacred place where gentle souls discover peace of mind. I have not reached that place, I know, so journey on without respite, walking with people much like me, who drift through life in search of hope. 

I am as lost as man can be, I cannot call it otherwise, but somewhere in my secret place, safe from harm or casual glance, you sometimes raise your eyes to me.

Posted in character, creative writing, faith, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 36 Comments

A Happy Christmas One And All

Well it’s that time of year again when I toss all literary ambitions aside, consumed as I am by the anxiety which comes with the responsibility for cooking the Christmas meal.

Will it all be overdone, underdone or not done at all on account of some last minute equipment failure? Hopefully, as in previous years, somehow or other, I will move towards the dining table with cooked turkey on display and wearing that Christmas jumper which covers a thousand human failings.

I hope you and yours enjoy a similar suspension of anxiety and get to enjoy the pleasure of family which few festivals offer us as richly as does Christmas.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Thank you for all your support during the year. To each and every one of you “It means more than I can ever say”

Posted in Christmas, community, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Relationships, values | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments