I didn’t find autumn cold like most people did. I found it warm and cosy. I loved pulling on a soft jumper, curling up on the sofa with a hot coffee or chocolate then burying myself in a thick novel.
Outside, the wind might be howling and the rain might be pouring but that just made perfect background noise to my reading. As the early darkness covered the sky and lingered by the windows, I pulled a blanket over my knees and wonder how the hero was going to escape this time.
The bubbling of stew and dumplings called to me before I could get there. It was a hearty meal with bread for soaking up the gravy at the bottom of the bowl. I felt hugged from the inside!
Sleepiness drifted like the night upon me and I took the book to a fleece lined bed and goose feather pillows. Safe from the world, I disappeared in between the words till I was dreaming I was adventuring alongside the hero.
Why did I always go after the boys that needed saving? It was strange how I was drawn to that type of person, sometimes without even knowing about it.
Deleting the photos of my ex and I from my phone, I told myself I didn’t need him. He had been too clingy, too emotional and demanding. He was toxic and things would have only got worse between us.
I should have ended things months ago but I kept talking myself out of it. His words of, ‘I’ll kill myself if we break up’ and ‘you are the only thing that’s keeping me going’, repeatedly came back to me. Sadness and guilt overrode my wanting to say those last words to him.
Things had finished now. I had said what was needed, ‘I love you, Bennet but things aren’t working for us anymore. I don’t want to be your comfort blanket anymore. I’m sorry.’
Of course, he had broken down and tried anything he could to make me take back those words. The normally, I can change, I can do better, don’t want to lose you, why are you doing this to me?
Maybe, if I hadn’t been through this so many times I would have given in like I had done before. I’d have cried, hugged him and said I was sorry and we would work something out. Then everything went back to how it was and the loop carried on. With Bennet I had learnt the cut of those other break ups too deeply and I stood my ground.
He spend days wearing me down, becoming desperate for us to be together again. Finally he phoned me and told me he was going to do it. It was going to kill himself. I told him I didn’t care and to go ahead. It was just an empty threat. Then I blocked his number.
So, I’m moving on. No more needy men for me. I’m staying single until I find someone who’s not going to abuse my caring nature like a numbing pill for their problems.
Someone who is more balanced and wanting to care more about me then themselves. Like a normal man. Maybe then, I won’t have to go through all this heartbreak again.
I had to know what he was doing, it was like a addiction. I thought about him all the time since he’d left me. How was he doing? Was he eating okay? Did he have a new girlfriend yet?
I always tried to squish that thought down. Of course, he hadn’t moved on yet. He promised to always love me. How could there be anyone else?
From the bushes outside his parents’ house, I watched him sitting a table eating whilst his mother talk to him just out of view. I couldn’t hear what they were saying.
The bruises on his face were fading. He looked happier, he was smiling and nodding.
When was the last time he had smiled at me like that?
I balled my hands into fists, dried blood still in the lines and soil buried under my nails Anger filled me, burning in my chest like an immortal fire. I wanted him back. I needed him back! How could I live without him, my one true love?
I got out of the garden and went to the front door. I rang the bell.
Putting my hands behind my back, I fixed a smile on my lips and waited.
He answered the door.
His face turned white, his eyes growing large and his mouth trying to form words.
‘I’ve missed you, honey,’ I spoke in a breathy voice.
I could have had something simple inscribed on placate placed on the bench I’d made for my parents. The normal thing of their names, birth and death dates and perhaps stating this was their favourite spot.
I knew they had walked the cliffs often. They had meet on the beach below as teenagers so this area did hold special memories for them. Why my dad had chosen to bring my mum here to end everything, I could only guess.
Perhaps, it had been the easiest place for him to tell the old people’s home to take them on a day trip. It had been their special day after all. The career had said, my dad had asked her to go and get them ice creams whilst he and mum rested on a grassy spot.
Mum had been in a wheelchair, gone to dementia and dad with numerous other illness had recently been told he had that disease too.
I guess he couldn’t bear it anymore and that’s why he’d done it.
The placate reads;
In memory of Harry and Betty who committed suicide here on the 2 .8. 2019, their 55th wedding anniversary.
Their love began and ended on the beach below. They were always together.
The Lady hadn’t left her home when she had passed on. It wasn’t that she was trapped there, she could come and go as much as she wanted. The Lady had loved the house so much that she couldn’t help but walk the corridors and through rooms still.
The Lady was glad people still came and stayed in her house. She loved hearing them praise the decor and paintings, the gardens and the water fountains. Also, it was so nice to hear the laughter of children once more as they dashed from room to room.
She knew her presence was felt because people talk about smelling her perfume. It was one she had made herself using roses from the garden and water from the spring. The Lady felt pleased by this, she liked them to know she was still here watching over her house.
The rain dripped off the cafe’s canvas shelter. I looked up and just listened to the soft, steady beating noise. It was nice and calming and eased my anxiety more then the hot chocolate in front of me.
There was only handful of people on the street and they were hurrying about their business, masks on their faces and shopping bags crinkling beside their legs. Of the cafe tables, two or three had people sitting at them, the rest, spaced out were empty. Inside the cafe no one was allowed to sit, it was outside or take away only.
Two staff were behind the counter, masked and gloved and working as best they could. No food was on offer today, so the chocolate chunky muffin or slice of banana cake with thick frosting, I would have got to accompany my drink wasn’t there.
The gentle voice of my boyfriend broke in to my thought.
I nodded, ‘just adjusting. The rain’s helping. How’s you tea?’
‘Fine,’ he said and took another few sips.
Watching a man and his dog walk by, silence crept between us again.
Normally, we’d have lots to chat about and catch up on but this wasn’t a normal date. It was the first time we had been outside in public in twelve weeks and we decided to move in together before, perhaps that had been too soon but things had been fine.
‘We can leave whenever you want to,’ he spoke again.
‘I know. I’m okay.’
I picked up my hot chocolate and took a deep drink. It was nice and rich, the chocolate heavy but creamy. The warmth spread in my chest and I felt better.
Light touched the rippling surface of the lake. Small boats, bobbed on the water their ropes creaking. Birds called up the sunrise and other animals stirred awake in the stillness of dawn.
She was running. Running from her home and following the path downwards. Her dress floated out behind her, caught in the air rush from her movements. A bed sheet, turned bundle bumped at her side and weighted her down with supplies.
Her feet were bare, easier and silent to aid her running. The dew grass wet her feet and the last of the warmth from her bed left her.
She reached the boats, placed the bundled into the closest one, then gathering all the skirts up into both her hands, she quickly stepped into the boat and had to catch herself before she almost fell into the lake.
Crawling to the front, she untied the boat, sat down and began rowing. The light of the dawn lay across the water as if it was guiding her. She wasn’t a strong rower, but the rush from her escape and the knowledge she would soon be with her lover spurred her on.
From the castle window, her matron sat at the window. The old woman couldn’t see her young charge running then rowing the boat away, but she could see the yellow light touching the lake and the tree tops which sang just as her heart did that she had done the right thing in aiding the girl’s escape.
Dazing lights shone through the night as water played it’s tinkling tune within the fountain. Rising up from the centre was a large pink and white waterlily, posed on the edge of fully opening.
My mum sat on her balcony each clear evening, sometimes with a glass of wine and my dad, looking at the fountain. She didn’t know she was having me until four or five months in. She couldn’t get pregnant and thought it was another phantom.
My parents struggled to name me for weeks but finally one evening on the balcony with me wrapped in a blanket in mum’s arms, she looked across at the waterlily and knew what my name was.
The birds were singing the last songs of the day but it was still hot and hazy outside. I lent back in the garden lounger and looked at the wax crayon blue sky. It had been a beautifully day, one of this days ‘miracle’ like days that seem only to be in films.
Shutting my eyes, I relaxed into the heat, wishing and not for the first time that day, that I had a swimming pool to be dipping my feet into. We had had one in the last holiday villa we had stayed at. Oh, how it had been glorious to sit on the edge of the pool, legs in the cool water and sipping some sweet drink whilst the sun set behind the palm trees.
England didn’t really allow that setting. We didn’t have constant sun and heat that other European countries did. Still, on the rare days like this….
The clicking of ice against a glass made my eyes flicker open. My husband was stepping out of the house, two glasses of some pink fizz in his hands. He came over and hand me a glass, I smelt the hint of fruits and took a sip.
‘Something light and sweet for this hot evening,’ my husband explained.
‘What is it?’ I asked twisting the glass in my hand to inspected the drink.
Bubbles coated the sides of the glass and others raced to the surface fizzing and popping. Mint leaves floated along side the chunky ice cubes and the colour was a light pink hinting at the taste summer berries.
‘My own invention,’ my husband replied.
I took another few sips, nodded and spoke, ‘ I love it.’
Do you remember our honeymoon in Greece? I found some photos of us whilst clear out the attic. It made me want to get back in touch with you. This postcard I found at the bottom of that box and I thought it would be a good reminder for you.
I’m sorry for all the mistakes I made and for all the times I wasn’t there for you. I wish I could go back and change everything. Give you the married life you deserved. I know you had no choice when you left, I know you can never forgive me but I will never stop loving you.