A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



It was a brand new day and the sky was heavy with clouds. A few spots of rain had started to make rivulets down her windows and Annie sat nursing a hot cup of tea, and sighed. Surely her friend wouldn’t come today? Birds don’t like getting their feathers wet, do they? Maybe it impedes their flying, soggy wet feathers in a downpour? And surely they’ve got too much sense than to go venturing forth into the eye of a storm? Not that it was exactly a storm...

But Mr Thrush was there, shaking himself and sending the finest spray imaginable onto the glass of my window.

I’d best continue with my story before I forget all about it and all my experiences, all the happy and sad things that have come my way, are gone for ever and buried along with my flesh in a six foot hole...” she told him, and he winked at her knowingly.

When he heard what had happened Klaus came back with that I warned you, I told you so look on his face, but he didn’t say that, not yet anyway. But I guessed what he was thinking. You see, my little feathered friend, I was a woman and women were inferior. The good book says so, and therefore it must be true. It strikes me as absurd that any woman can honestly says she believes every word in that sexist tome! Wasn’t it Eve who plucked the forbidden fruit?

Anyway, if Klaus had had a hand in writing it he would have insisted that women are fine and decorative and wonderful between the sheets, pardon me for mentioning such things, but not much good in the thinking department.

After all, it wasn’t me he fell for but an idealised picture of me! It’s a wonder we had any decent marriage together at all, but we did! But the arrival of Elizabeth as I said, put an end to all that. He was the perfect husband when the world fitted into his jigsaw of what life should be, but get a piece that doesn’t fit and he became Mr Grumpy!”

And, she thought, that described him perfectly.

It would never have happened if you’d moved into the Birches with Daniel and me,” he said.

The Birches? Is that what you call it?” asked Annie critically, “I’ve seen it and the only trees anywhere near are the stunted little things that were planted on the roadside verges by men who don’t know how to plant trees, and they’re not birches anyway.”

I’m going to get Ralf to paint a picture it, and he can paint some birches in as well,” he explained, and that summed him up completely. He married the painted girl and now he’s going to live in a painted house surrounded by painted birches.

Anyway, it could have happened anywhere,” she snapped, “the poor girl was dancing to a tune inside her head, and her perfect world didn’t have room in it for a staircase.”

It’s that American rock ‘n’ roll rubbish,” he growled, “it encourages that kind of madness!”

She had a world inside her head, and neither you nor I ever got a glimpse of it,” Annie said, “is that why you’ve come? To try and tell me that I as good as killed her, that I made a mistake living here when I could have had a share of the luxury of your Birches paradise where Elizabeth could have blossomed like a late-season rose and lived forever?”

Of course she wouldn’t do that!” he snapped, “that’s typical of a woman, that is, to take things to extreme and then blame men for the fact that they’re not perfect!”

She died, Klaus, and I like to think that her last thought was happy and carefree and joyful,” she told him.

The thrush knocked on the window as if to say that’s enough of reliving the past in your own mind, how about telling me more?”

I’m sorry,” she murmured from her chair, “I didn’t mean to leave you out, but it was all so painful. Klaus was such a moron! And I could tell even though he never put it into words that he blamed me for what happened to Elizabeth. He was a man, and ergo he knew better! But what happened next rocked me to the ground after what was tantamount to a virtual assault on my ability to safely raise a child.

You know what you could do, he said, you could come to the Birches with me and Danny, and...”

Daniel! His name’s Daniel,” I put in.

And when you’re quite well again we could try for another child, one better that Elizabeth could ever be...”

That put the kibosh on it from the start! A better child than dear little dead Elizabeth, still in the mortuary, still, barely cool?

Get out!” I screamed at him, “Get out, out, out!”

And I must have looked so ferocious that he had no choice but to leave.

I’ll tell your mother how unreasonable you’re being...” he ventured as he went out of the front door”

Out!” I screamed, and he was gone. And, you know, I was shaking. Not with anger or rage exactly but because someone I had let make love to me, gloriously and wonderfully and even on a sandy beach in the past, could have become so insensitive and small minded.

And guess what, Mr Thrush, but mum came that afternoon. I guessed Klaus had gone straight to her after he had left me, and I was still lingering under a black cloud when she walked in. It had been her home once, so it was alright for her to simply walk in without knocking, though she did normally call out cooey, probably in case I was up to something she’d prefer not to know about.

I thought I might see you,” I said grumpily, “I’ll bet the b*****d could waste no time in dragging my name through the gutter in front of you.”

You married in too much haste, Annie,” she said quite simply, “though truth to tell I thought better of him than that. But I really came to weep a little bit with you, for sweet little Elizabeth.”

Mum had always thought that way of Elizabeth. She hadn’t found my daughter anything but a delight to be with and had never suggested there was anything at all abnormal about her She was the only one, besides me, who had seen her in hospital with wires and pipes all over her, and eyes that would never open naturally again now fast shut.

And she had wept. Not for me, not for herself, but for the life being snuffed out. And her tears had been genuine, real, the tears of a grandmother.

She wanted to change the subject already.

If you marry again, Annie, be careful who choose and, for Heaven’s sake, think it through first.”

I won’t get married again, mum,” I said, certain that I wouldn’t fall into the trap again.

Never say never, my darling,” she mewed.

My darling? She hardly ever called me by anything as affectionate as such an endearment.

But I could see something in her eyes when she said, “on Saturday Ralf and I are having a little party and we’d really like you to come.

Parties were coming to be the order of the day by then. The last vestiges of wartime privations were fading into the textbooks of history, and people were beginning to live again. Just think on that for a moment, Mr Thrush, when you hear little Englanders say it would be worth the restrictions of war just to be free! Anyway, I was invited to a party at the big house.

That’d be nice,” I averred.

And who knows … nobody can read tomorrow’s tea leaves… who can tell who else will be there.”

That confused me. What on Earth did she mean?

Not Klaus, I hope,” I mumbled.

He’s persona non grata, my love,” she almost cooed, “he won’t be allowed anywhere near.”

Mum cooing? And what did persona non grata mean?

© Peter Rogerson, 22.05.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 22, 2020
Last Updated on May 22, 2020
Tags: separation, argument, blame, party


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 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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A Chapter by Peter Rogerson