A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



I’d have liked you to meet him,” she said to Mr Thrush or the spider or both of them, “for no good reason other than his proclaimed loneliness I invited him in for a cup of tea and he spent half an hour telling in minute details all he could of his late wife. And I was a stranger, remember that, we’d never met before and he had a heart full of grief that needed to be expunged. Not that he wanted to lose anything but the grief. He wanted to remember everything else, the love, the physical stuff, but without the all-embracing sorrow of loss.”

It seemed that Mr Thrush wasn’t in the mood for sorrowful introspection and he flew off.

Fair weather friend,” she called after him, but he ignored her.

Bernie had sat in her kitchen at the same table that she still had in there, drinking a cup of tea from one of the same set of cups and looking at her wistfully.

I’m sorry to have unburdened myself on you,” he said, “I didn’t mean to, it just sort of came out. I did love Mary, you know, and I was never unfaithful to her, nor shall I be. But what was that you were saying about an antidote for love?”

It’s simple, really. Ask yourself what part of your life is better without it, and concentrate on that.”

He frowned. “But I teach English literature, and that means poetry. Love poetry too. I can’t escape it. I loved her then and always will, and every rhyming couplet reminds me.”

And is she still faithful to you even though she’s surrounded by all the handsome dead men who have ever lived and earned their place with her in Heaven?” asked Annie, not really setting a trap for him but wanting to enter his conversation without spoiling it.

Of course she is!” he said rather sharply, and then he smiled. “You see, I’ve tried to get to the kernel of this heaven and hell stuff and by reading bits and pieces of the old testament where the two places evolved ages ago I’ve been forced to conclude that the only women allowed in Heaven have made themselves like men, and truth to tell Mary was never anything like a man. She was all woman, beautiful, passionate, caring, loving, and endlessly forgiving.”

And that means?” asked Annie.

That she can’t be in Heaven, and as never a wicked thought passed through her mind she can’t be in Hell either. Ergo, as she’s in neither place then those places can’t exist because she as sure as sure died, and the love of my life is pushing up the daisies in the sweetest rural graveyard on Earth. And that’s where I want her to be. Her flesh, that is, because the rest of her, indeed the best of her, is here, forever, or at least until I die.” He tapped his forehead. “And then we’ll be together, tiny wayward sparks of thought merged as one and drifting eternally in the hugeness of the Universe.”

That’s beautiful,” she said.

And I’d love it to be real. But who knows?” He shook his head sadly, then smiled. “You, a stranger, are being good for me,” he murmured, “making me a cup of very nice tea and listening to my burbling. But I don’t believe in any of the religious mumbo jumbo, haven’t for years!”

I take it with a pinch of salt,” she murmured cautiously. Then moved on, “I lost a daughter, young, but difficult, some time back and I like to think she found the kind of heaven she’d have liked. I’d like to believe she’s there in the clouds and rocking round the clock like in the record.”

She’s there, dancing, in the music in your memories,” he told her, and smiled. “Do you see her like that, with your mind’s eye? Like I see my Mary?”

She nodded slowly. “I’d like to have known her,” she whispered, “Mary, I mean: your Mary. You said it was cancer?”

He nodded. “It was breast cancer, and without sounding sordid it was me who found it, a lump in the soft and magical tissues of her bosom. But my trouble was I found it too late, and I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

And now you’re all alone. You had children?”

Two, one of each. Kim’s in Canada having the time of her life, married to a Mountie, and Jake’s somewhere under the North Sea looking for oil. I see very little of either of them, I’m afraid: they both have their own lives to live and I prefer it to be like that.”

She nodded. “I’ve got Daniel, running an art gallery and shop with his father, my husband who I’d be delighted if I never saw again, though I wish him no harm,” she replied, softly, “it was our daughter Elizabeth who passed away.”

So we’ve both had heartache,” he murmured, “both with our crosses to bear. Both needing to push what had to be aside and make way for what will be.”

She nodded, and the Thrush had sneaked back to her window sill and was tapping the glass in time to her nodding.

Fair weather friends,” she grunted at it, and its beak smiled back.

She remembered something that scared her, something she’d said to Bernie.

Are you always faithful?” she’d asked, “I mean, physically. They say it’s not so easy for a man to, you know, go without some things.” It had sounded awkward and having said it she thought she should never have said it.

Are you suggesting?” he asked, his eyes showing a hint of alarm. But the trouble was, she had been suggesting, in an oblique sort of way. She had not slept with any man since Klaus had stormed out and sometimes the loneliness of nights crept into her mind.

No, of course not!” she replied, “I should never have asked: I’m sorry.”

It’s all right. But, you know, I’ve lived with the very best, enjoyed it like no man has any right to enjoy the flesh of a lover, and that will do for me. Instead, I go to school and try to teach the fourth form how to appreciate love poetry!”

Love’s a strange beast,” she said quietly, “because half of it’s in the head and the other half is lower in the body, in the mindless flesh that we all spend most of our lives trying to wish away!”

Do you?” he asked, “try to wish it away? Why do you do that?”

She shrugged. Then she smiled at him. “Because, I guess, it’s too much trouble not to,” she replied, quietly, “more tea?”

He looked at his watch, tapped it, looked around for her kitchen clock and scowled. “Darned thing’s stopped, probably needs winding,” he said, “but if that’s the time I must be off!” He indicated her clock.

It’s right unless we have a power cut,” she assured him, “Electric!”

I must be off, then. Would it be… is it too forward of me to ask if we can meet again some time?”

Of course it’s not!” she smiled, “you can pop in for a cuppa any time you want and entertain me with your deep and meaning philosophies of life as often as you like!”

It’s more philosophies of love,” he said mournfully, “I know very little about life!”

© Peter Rogerson 25.05.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 25, 2020
Last Updated on May 25, 2020
Tags: discussion, love, death


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