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A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



You know, Mr Thrush,” said Annie suddenly, dragging herself back into the land of the conscious from forty-odd winks, “they were, what was it, two good years with Bernie as a friend. He popped round quite often, sometimes on his way home from school, or at weekends, and all we did was chatter. I wondered if it ever crossed his mind that I’d have loved to just lie down with him, on the bed with the aroma of fresh linen in our noses, not doing anything, just relaxing my emotions, but it never came to that. Then he got another job miles away, Deputy head or something like that, and I never saw him again.

He said he’d write, and he did once, and I replied, and that was it until he sent me an invitation to his wedding! I guess his period of mourning a lost love was over and he could move on. I wouldn’t have minded him moving on with me, but the question never arose. I didn’t go to his wedding, though it was really nice of him to send me in invitation. He must have realised I couldn’t go: his new woman probably knew nothing of me, and anyway what we’d had wasn’t in any way an affair. And so, that was that and the Beatles were all the rage!”

Mr Thrush bobbed up and down, inquisitively.

The Beatles?” she asked, “a pop group with a whole load of catchy love songs. They were young with hair that looked as if mops had been dyed dark and stuck on their heads, and young girls loved them. But I was in my forties back then and although I could appreciate a good song with the young ‘uns, I couldn’t bring myself to scream their names! I was already too old for that sort of nonsense.”

Klaus tried to get in touch with me, Mr Thrush. I hope you’re taking this all down! You’re my recorder because this lock down is going to be the end of me even if the virus doesn’t get anywhere near me! You know, I’m an old bird, I’ve known politicians and governments since I was old enough to know what they were, and never was one as bad as this one is today! Prime Ministers? Just ordinary men with a screw or two loose! Every day they set out to keep us all notified of how we’re supposed to beat the illness and every day they succeed in adding confusion on top of confusion! And they’ve brainwashed half the population into thinking they’re doing a good job! Phooey! I know a good job when I see one, and this lot are the pits! But we can’t complain because we voted for them in the first place.”

The thrush clearly lost all interest in the affairs of human politics, because with an angry flashing of flapping wings it flew off, probably to its nest and its better half and a quiet afternoon cuddle.

Annie closed her eyes again. It was a warm afternoon, there was nothing that interested her on the television and a few additional winks on top of the fortyish she’d already enjoyed would do her not harm.

Daniel had got married recently. It seemed to have been all weddinsg back then! It should have been a joyous occasion for her, but it wasn’t. She couldn’t blame Klaus who had done his best to be civil, but Eva was an evil little b***h and Eva was the bride!

You can never choose partners for your offspring, that was the one lesson she’d had pushed home by the self-centred, opinionated and very rude Eva. It boded ill as she approached the altar, and it was never going to get any better.

Annie had gone to the wedding, the groom’s mother, it would be very wrong if she hadn’t, though she’d never been privileged to meet Eva, not until she was walking down the aisle of the church. And when the veil was pushed from the younger woman’s face Annie knew she wouldn’t like her. There was something about the lines of her face, that determined chin, those never-still eyes forever searching for something to dislike, that reminded Annie of everyone she’d known who, in some way had crossed her.

It was at the reception that she’d had the deepest insight into Eva’s evil, as she saw it. Everything that Daniel said, and Daniel was no push-over, no seven stone weakling unable to stand up for himself, was scrutinised by his new wife and blatantly contradicted if she felt like disagreeing with him. And she had opinions that she was only too proud to elaborate on, some of them the kind you keep to yourself because they’re private. And in order to stress these opinions she was not averse to using language few ladies would want to use in public.

When it comes to sex,” she said as if everyone wanted to debate private lives with a woman who according to the mores of the time should have known nothing of sex, “when it comes to sex the man should have no say in the matter. It must all be down to the woman, when, where, how often and when not. There’s only one reason for screwing and that’s to create a family!”

And on one other matter Daniel clearly disagreed with his new wife, who was holding forth on the subject of the balance of domestic work in a family setting.

While it’s women who have the babies and do all the work it should be women who dictate what men are obliged to do,” she said, and launched into a description of how she saw her new marriage going with her husband very much the carthorse while she was the mother superior.

Just a minute,” interrupted Annie when Eva had reached the point of describing the marriage bed and the ease with which women can dictate families by with-holding sexual favours, “it’s not always as easy as that… there’s such a thing as the heat of the moment.”

Rubbish!” scowled Eva in her plain white honeymoon mini-dress and ridiculous fascinator that was perched on her head, “and,” she added, knowing it would wound a woman she’d barely spoken to before, “if I want the advice of a woman who can’t keep hold of her man then I’ll ask for it!”

Annie, for a moment, found herself retreating into herself, then she marched off. Remaining, she told herself, would just provide an unpleasant creature with more opportunities to pile scorn onto her.

Annie,” said Klaus as she reached the door, “I’m sorry about that. It was the heat of the moment, no more.”

You think so?” asked Annie, still seething inside.

Then he shook his head. “No,” he muttered quietly, “but we all have to learn there’s one thing we can’t do and that’s choose the woman our sons are going to spend their lives with even though we might think the one they’re with is a bit of a cow!”

You can say that again,” murmured Annie, and she glided away, as ladylike as she could muster, as the hypnotic rhythm of Twist and Shout floated out of the reception hall and into the sixties air of a decade filled with hope.

And,” said Annie to her friend the spider, “I was proved to be right. Eva wasn’t in poor Daniel’s life for long. They had no children from that fiasco, but in the wings even during that first reception the sweetest young angel, Wendy, had been waiting for him, and when he married her two years later after a hurried divorce they had three wonderful children. My grandchildren, Mildred, Ian and Peter.”

The spider’s web grew an inch longer as it listened, and she was quite sure that it agreed with her when she said there’s none so odd as folk…

© Peter Rogerson 26.05.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 26, 2020
Last Updated on May 26, 2020


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