Life’s Given (part 1)


 :

The waves splashed up around the car as Colin cut the engine, having decided he’d driven far enough. He took his hands off the steering wheel and dropped them into his lap. Staying seriously still, he looked out of the windscreen and watched the white topped sea engulfing the car. He let the rocking motion, more powerful now then when he had first headed in, sooth him.

Tears started in his brown eyes, but he no longer had the energy to rub them away. They leaked down his cheek and chin before falling on to the dirty white shirt. His bloodless, bitten lips trembled and soft sobbing escaped his mouth. He lent back and shut his eyes, allowing the sea to carry him away like a lost boat.

When Colin opened his eyes again, due by the cruel cries of seagulls, he saw that the sky had darkened and it was now raining. He looked out of the side window and saw that the sea was lapping halfway up the door. Moving back, he noticed his feet were wet and a quick glance down confirmed that the salty water had found ways into the car.

He wiped his damp face, moving back loose strands of dark brown hair then got back to waiting. He could hear the waves roaring outside and the strangled cries of the gulls still. Spray and rain mixed on the window, clouding his view and Colin felt himself on the edge of breaking down again. He let it come and sat there crying loudly as the sea broke through the glass.

***

Summer ended and Colin convinced himself so had his life. Bitter and hungover, he packed up the last of his boxes into the car. Refusing to look back at the house he had spent his whole adult life living in and fighting for. He got in, flicked the engine on and drove off. The swinging For Sale sign filling his review mirror. He drove straight into town and once there pawned the rest of his valuables.

He stopped at a cash machine and tried his card, but it wasn’t accepted. Out of habit, he put it back into was wallet with the two hundred pounds he’d just got and went back to the car. Sinking behind the wheel, he watched people roaming around the car park and going about their daily lives. His throat felt chocked, he thought about getting out again and going to buy a coffee.

‘Waste of money,’ he muttered to himself.

He pulled a jumper over his knees and grabbed a tatty science fiction novel from the passenger seat. He sat there reading and pretending he was waiting for someone. He read for an hour before deciding to take a nap. Wrapping himself in more winter clothes, he shut his eyes and pictured his bed back home. Soon, he was sleeping as peacefully as a kitten.

A loud tapping brought him awake. Colin opened his eyes and started out at the car park attendant. He went to open the window then remembered the engine was off, so opened the door instead.

‘You okay, sir?’ the large African man asked him.

Colin nodded, ‘I was waiting for someone,’ he mumbled.

He saw the attendant’s eyes flicking through the packed up car before zoning back to him.

‘The car park is shutting; I’m going to need you to leave.’

‘Of course, of course, I’m so sorry,’ Colin rushed.

He closed his door and started the car. He strapped his seat belt on then put the car into reverse and drove off. For a few minutes, he didn’t think about what he was doing, just that he had to get away. Then, he realised he was heading home and almost slammed on the brakes. Approaching around about, he followed the signs for the motorway and decided to head to the coast.

At least there I might be less disturbed, he thought.

Two hours later, he pulled up in an empty beach carpark. The tide was in and night was coming on fast. He glanced around and thought about finding a hotel. Another waste of money and what’s in my wallet is what I have, he signed. Getting out of the car, he went to the public toilets which stink of stale waste and salt.

Coming out again was a great relief and he hurried into his car once more. Locking himself in, he wrapped the same clothes around his tried, hungry body and pulled out his book again. He disappeared between the pages.

***

Colin was sick of hearing condolences. He had removed the phone cable and found a new best friend in cheap alcohol. He sat before the TV on the sofa or else sprawled on his bed and let the hours trickle passed. He tried not to look around the house or even think about anything, but it was too hard to do.

Sympathy cards lined the window sill, causing him to painfully remember the other two times that they had appeared. He got up, collected them all and threw them into the bin. Feeling slightly better, he looked around and decided to do the same to her things. He grabbed some bin bags and starting in the wardrobe, removed all of her clothes. He tried not to look and dwell as he did so, but still his thoughts couldn’t help it.

Here’s that red dress she wore for our last date. The sexy underwear I got her for Christmas. A witch’s Halloween costume for that big party last October. The purple high heels she looked wonderful in. Work clothes that would make the teenage office boys blush. Night clothes and underwear for the hospital stays. Slippers.

He was crying before he knew it. Stuffing as much as possible in, he then took the bags outside and dumped them in the garden. Coming back, he went through the rest of her stuff and added that to the pile outside. He wrestled with the memories and drank more heavily to forget. Collapsing onto the bed, he fell asleep in an emptier house then before.

Strangely, he dreamed of her funeral, though it wasn’t the actual one. The small church was humming with people singing hymns and he was walking up to the open casket. He looked in and saw his wife laying there. She was wearing a plain black frilled dress, oddly cut too low so that her breast stuck invitingly up. Her thin, needle scared arms lay beside her wilted torsos and he was confused for a few moments. This isn’t her!

Then he recalled the cancer. She had been eaten away and now this husk was all that was left. He looked closely at her face and saw that it really was her. He would always know the bow of her lips and button of her nose. Someone had put makeup on her, but it was too soft and made her look too natural. Where were the vibrate colours she was famous for?

He backed away as the priest rose and began tolling words from a little black book.

‘It’s wrong!’ he screamed, ‘So wrong! Stop! No!’

He rushed at the people in the pews, but he went right through them and the wooden seats. He spun and charged the priest, but the same effected happened. He went to her coffin and slipping his hands underneath her pulled her body out. He clutched his dead wife to his chest and cried hard, ‘Don’t leave me!’

To Be Continued…

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