A Story by Peter Rogerson

It's best not to wish for death because it might come...


The day to day of life, the waking up in the morning, the eating of monotonous meals, the going to bed at night after watching morons parading themselves on television reciting meaningless lines of garbage, all these things combined to make Maxine Minchen wish that she was dead.

Being dead, she thought, would at least be an adventure. It would be different and within the parameters of its difference she might well meet some interesting people. It was true that she met people where she was in this rag-tag quietening of her days, quite a few of them if the truth was to be told, but not one of them was any more worth her attention than a brick wall. It’s not that she didn’t like them because they were all, to the very last one, quite likeable and she’d even had sex with some of them, even quite recently. But if the world had once been bright and colourful it was now grey and monotonous, and so was the sex.

There was Alfie Bingley down the road. She often bumped into him when he was gardening because that was all he seemed to do, potter about on his small front garden with its manicured lawn and pretty beds of flowers, begging weeds to grow so that he could pluck them out and thus have a reason to be where he was.

He’d talk to her as she tried to slip invisibly past him, and she, out of politeness (because that’s the sort of woman she was) would reply, and they’d end up going into his parlour (that’s what he called it because it was what his granny before him had called it and what’s in a name anyway?) for coffee. So they’d end up going into his parlour and she’d tell him that, silly man, he’d left his flies undone and he’d joke about the wild beast threatening to leap out, and then zip it up.

That was their routine and it was boring.

One day,” she’d say to him every so often, “one day your willy will pop out before you pull that zip up and you’ll end up chopping it off.”

And he’d laugh and say something like chance would be a fine thing with a snigger, and check that the little metal tag was pulled right up. Then he’d say there we are then, no ,longer any danger of that, with a snigger and they’d finish their coffee and that would be that.

Or there was Millie Sandbach, a dreamy wimpy sort of woman who’d had a family, watched it grow up and then found herself all alone because her husband had discovered that he had a nubile secretary and although it was all innocent and nothing was happening between them, they lived together. And slept together. They were together, morning, noon and all, all night.

I know what he’s doing because he used to do it to me,” she’d say, dreamily as she invited Maxine in for tea. It was always tea and never coffee, and it was always Earl Grey.

And what’s that?” she’d ask, knowing the answer but asking anyway.

Oh, this and that,” replied Millie, which left Maxine both none the wise and very much the wiser.

That was tea and coffee, often on the same day and always when she was on her way to the Post Office where she didn’t need to go but to where she somehow found an excuse for going.

Id she hadn’t made her almost daily walk down the road her life would be even more monotonous. She didn’t like monotony.

On the way back from the Post Office there was Basil Todmore. Basil was getting on a bit, in his eighties she supposed, but he always popped out of his front door when he saw her approaching and adopted a hearty military tone (he’d never been in the military, but that didn’t matter because he was good at the tone) and said something like you’re looking pretty today, my dear, and how about a cup of something hot, eh? with a cough that insinuated anything she wanted it to insinuate.

Sometimes it insinuated that he was ready for bed, so she’d oblige willingly whilst giving the sense of reluctance. It was all right going to bed with Basil because, truth to tell, he had much bigger dreams than his flesh could accommodate.

Other times it insinuated that she needed to change her jeans into something more revealing, and what she did subsequent to that had everything to do with her prevailing mood and nothing to do with her prettiness, but she often changed out of her jeans.

And when, at the end of a busy day doing very little at the post office and with too many hot beverages sending her to the loo, she got depressed and wished that she was dead.

I was told wonderful things about death when I went to Sunday School,” her brain muttered to her as she stretched out in her bed.

But that was more than sixty years ago, she thought in reply, it’s a wonder we can remember that…

But she could. Remember, that is.

There was a lovely place with fluffy clouds and a huge number of harps being played most tunefully by cherubs in the altogether and angels in long white robes whilst a benevolent deity smiled benevolently on a scene of total bliss and harmony.

And there was the other place. In her half-asleep, half-awake mind she shuddered. She had been told about that other place and it was … hell. Hell, and everything that horrible, terrible word implied. Fires everywhere. Sulphur in the air. A man with horns.

She turned over, her eyes still shut, needing to escape the pyromaniac that reigned in the second place. Needing to tread the flower-strewn, harp accompanied glory of the first before both of them vanished for good.

And vanish they did. For good.

Because smiling along with the deity of her childhood Sunday School stories, Maxine Minchen sighed once, sighed twice, sunk down into her bed, and closed her eyes for one last time. Her mind went sort of numb. Her dreams faded to black. Dense, endless, timeless black.

She had prayed for death, and here it was: a last second of life stretched out to the end of all time everywhere. And its entirety was a single shade of black, no Alfie, no Millie, no Basil to nod and sip and every so often, be human with. And long after her brain had melted into mush, long after her bones had remorselessly and at the whim of time been turned to dust, long after the headstone identifying the last corporal remains of Maxine Minchen had crumbled into a powder that was slowly and almost methodically gathered by every breeze and gust of wind and sent by those forces into nowhere, that blackness of eternity was there.

It was Maxine Minchen, and it was death.

Her death.

© Peter Rogerson 06.11.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 6, 2017
Last Updated on November 6, 2017
Tags: boredom, monotony, people, neighbours, sex


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 74 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..


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