A Story by Peter Rogerson

A haunting little tale of good memories and a good life.


The glade was beautiful and special. Not Far from a bustling Midlands town, it lay hidden from all but the most inquisitive eyes, and a brief stretch of ancient woodland bordering it seemed to soak up the hum of traffic that really wasn’t that far away and spread a blanket of calm on the glade.

Through it ran a stream, a crystal waterway that took the remnants of last winter’s melting snow and ice from the distant mountains towards an equally distant major river. Burbling and gurgling over pebbles and stones, you could drink the waters of that stream and be absolutely certain you’d live for ever as a consequence of all its healing qualities. It was a perfect kind of water.

On both banks of the stream and stretching joyfully away from it was a meadow with a range of flowers that had been there since time immemorial. They filled the air with colour, with vibrancy and with the sweet smell of meadows everywhere. Yet, as if to break the monotony of too much beauty, little trees sprouted randomly, splendid in themselves.

All of life comes into the glade. Peter knows that because he remembers.

Standing, leaning on his walking cane, he gazes into the depths of the stream and smiles at the old familiar gurgles.

He had been here as a boy, standing in this exact spot and hearing this exact gurgle. Then, with the sound echoing through his young mind, he’d run off with Ricky, his friend from school who liked to play with him. They’d chase each other sporting those awful grey school shorts and almost but not quite wearing socks with holes growing in them, but the clothing didn’t matter. Running was a joy. Running was what it was all about, that and tumbling and laughing and jumping on each other and rolling down this or that gentle incline, almost making it over the bank of the stream and into the icy water, but not quite.

He sighed. He couldn’t have run or jumped now to save his life, and he hadn’t seen Ricky in, oh, well over half a century. That’s what time does, he whispered to himself, that’s what friends are…

Some one had said, maybe his teacher at school, he’d been at school for a tiny space by the time he’d been allowed to go as far as this glade on his own, or maybe his mum or dad, they all said wise things, that these days, these schooldays, would prove to be the best days of his life. They hadn’t. There’d been awful punishments back then, punishments for things most of the children didn’t understand they were doing anyway, and even though he hadn’t had his own bottom warmed by one of them there was always the fear that he might, by unwittingly committing some dreadful sin, be physically chastised. No, those schooldays were never going to be the best days in anyone’s life unless his or her life was truly dreadful.

The stream gurgled along. He loved the sound of it, even now when his hearing was less sharp and his eyes watered.

This place, this glade, had seen some things!

He’d been here when he was, how old would he have been? Fifteen? Sixteen? Something like that, and by accident or design (he never did discover which) Jane, the girl from next door, had come here too.

Fancy seeing you here,” she had said.

Yes, fancy,” he had replied, so shyly he could remember the feeling all these years afterwards.

It’s nice, don’t you think?” she had asked.

It’s nice.” He’d agreed, he had to, because it was nice and so was she, though she was maybe a year older than him and much more grown up. When he looked back on it he was hardly grown up at all back then.

He still believed in Santa Claus, and he knew there was a bearded man in the skies benevolently looking after him and all the good people everywhere, but not if they didn’t believe in something, he’d never been quite sure what.

I like the quiet,” she had told him, and she did the impossibly wicked thing, and moved to stand so close to him that he could feel the warm of her and their hands sort of accidentally touched. “I like you, Peter,” she had said.

Or had she? You can remember things in such a way that what really happened morphs into what something in your head said ought to have happened, and maybe this was one of those things. Maybe she breathed something else.

And I like you...” he had said. Hadn’t he? After all, it was true. She liked the quiet and he liked her liking the quiet, because he did too. He always had.

He would have closed his eyes, but that might make him lose his balance, but he pictured that day as if his eyes were closed. Times were different back then. There was very little in the way of electronic wizardry, the Beatles topped the charts and he’d be leaving school soon. And she was wearing a lemon coloured summer dress, the sort that modern girls most probably wouldn’t be seen dead in, but he had thought she looked lovely. It suited her and hung just right. And her hair … he could still smell it, the gentle aroma of cleanliness and roses.

He’d always liked the smell of roses, ever since that day.

But that was Jane and he hadn’t seen her in well nigh fifty years either. They had gone to their neighbourly homes, kissed once or twice over the next so many weeks, but not then, not near the stream. No, their secret kisses had been shared in a gap at the bottom of their adjoining gardens where their fathers often stood and talked, out of sight of their wives, like men used to do when they were supposed to be gardening.

The stream still gurgled as if to encourage more memories, as if to take him to another cherished time, and it worked.

He’d brought Wendy down here, holding he hand, wealthy because he was working and had a weekly wage. Wendy worked at the cafe opposite the garage where he spent his days selling petrol, his first job after leaving school.

When he thought about it petrol was so cheap back then, and sold in big quantities called gallons rather than the piddling little litres it was sold in these days. And across the road was the cafe where he went when the working day was over, for a cup of coffee and a go on the jukebox, playing Adam Faith. And Wendy worked there.

And he met her on a Sunday when neither of them was working and he took her by the hand and they made their way, because it was his idea, to the glade and to the stream

It had gurgled then as he stood there. He could remember the way it had thrilled his heart, gliding and then crashing over stones and pebbles, creating a random sort of rhythm as it went, and he had turned to Wendy and said

- I love you -

and she had turned to him, her red lips sparkling, her eyes shining, and said

- and I love you -

Kissing her had been next. She had such a lovely mouth, such white teeth, even and perfect, and kissing her had been a huge and masterful experience. He had loved her, all right. Of course he had! The stream had known, it had gurgled the thought for everyone to hear.

He sighed in this later time.

He hadn’t seen Wendy in, how long? Forty years? Something like that. But the few times, the few Sundays, they had gone to the glade had been magical moments. He had loved her then, but then had been then and now was now, and all times in between had their own charms too.

Jodie hadn’t come with him down here. Jodie was the woman he’d married and the mother of his two children, one of each. But he’d brought them with him, once or twice in their childhood, knowing that the magic of the place would make something special blossom deep within them. And he supposed it had because the one of each had become a doctor and a nurse.

A lady doctor and a male nurse.

And that, he sighed, was all because of the stream and the way it had woven its message into his life. Like it still did, with he on his walking stick and the sounds in the air. Gurgle gurgle gurgle.

Eternal. Beautiful. Splendid.

© Peter Rogerson 07.11.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Interesting, I love the description and imagination!

Posted 1 Year Ago

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Added on November 7, 2017
Last Updated on November 7, 2017
Tags: glade, stream, memories, boyhood, teens, love, life


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 75 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..