15. Tiny Fragments of Forgotten Things

15. Tiny Fragments of Forgotten Things

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Next day the two teenagers realised they had a problem.

The amount of essentials they needed to take exceeded their capacity for carrying it on two ordinary bicycles safely. Even Jennifer was surprised at the array of underwear she would need for a week, and Darren’s boxer shorts (with one or two spares in case he got splashed with sea water) amounted to what he called a humongous pile. Then there were other things. Shorts and tee shirts for him and summer frocks for her. Then food, camping stuff, a tent which soon seemed to assume the dimensions of a medium-sized cathedral in their minds, cooking stuff in case they found themselves off the beaten track and hungry…

It all amounted to quite a pile, with raincoats just in case.

But Darren rescued them at the point of them deciding that cycling to the coast was one step too many. His father (bless him) had once used a small trailer that he towed behind his own old rickety bicycle when Darren had been young enough to sit in it, and Darren worked out how to safely attach it to the back of his own bike and remove the toddler’s seat. It was really a small trailer but provided enough room for the bulkier items, like the tent itself, and once it was packed they only needed a manageable backpack each before they were ready to go.

There were parental doubts, of course, and to her credit Darren’s mum Rona slipped him a packet of condoms ’just in case’,

She didn’t explain just in case of what because she rightly guessed that, at seventeen, Darren was well aware of the pitfalls he and Jennifer might face in the heights of an exited conversation. On the other hand, Violet Sagebrush brushed worries about an unwanted pregnancy to one side by opening a conversation with her daughter on the subject of how Patsy Plumb was going to cope when she had a pram to push to school.

It was a Sunday when they planned to start on their adventure, the assumption being that fewer people used their cars on Sundays. What they didn’t take into account was that roads to the coast experienced increased traffic at weekends, and were usually quite busy. But they set off anyway.

Rona and Violet stood together to wave them off, Jennifer on her modern bike and Darren on one a little too small for him, and not helped by being attached to a trailer.

Maybe Jennifer would have made the trip to the coast in a day, but Darren never would. Besides the trailer which slowed him down, the relative size of the bike didn’t help. By late morning he needed a rest, and they made their way off the main road and into a field via a gate that was open and therefore they judged welcoming.

Hey you two!” came a voice, sounding angry maybe, certainly authoritarian, “what you doing on my field?”

The speaker was the oldest man Darren had seen in a month of Sundays. His face, grey as if he was approaching his doom, though, wasn’t scowling or frowning, he was smiling

We’re sorry,” stammered Darren, but Jennifer smiled brightly at the elderly man, hitched her skirt so he could quite easily admire most of her thighs, and said “my friend’s in need of a rest. His bike’s harder to pedal than mine is.”

Tha’s all right, missie,” replied the elderly man, “An’ you c’n call me Albert if the familiarity’s not too much for you!”

And I’m Darren,” pit in Darren, “with my girlfriend Jennifer.”

Pretty name for a pretty lass,” grinned Albert, “once upon a time I was young and had a Jennifer all of my own. Back then I called her after my favourite music record, Jennifer Juniper!”

That’s the song I was named after,” laughed Jennifer, “My mum gave me a pile of old records that were my gran’s, and we play them sometimes, don’t we Darren?

He nodded, but hadn’t paid much attention to the records she had insisted he listen to. He couldn’t remember Donovan’s Jennifer Juniper at all, which was an omission that let him down in his mind.

Young folks like you wan’ to cling on to things that are precious,” sighed the elderly Albert, “I wish I’d clung on to more. Listen, if you’ve got the mind to, an’ I’ll give you some good and sound advice. From an old fart like, me, seventy-seven next, to youngsters like you…”

We’re both seventeen,” murmured Jennifer.

My Jennifer came and went back then,” he sighed, “one minute we were in each other’s arms and the next she was walking out with some other guy.” He paused as if the memory somehow hurt him.

I’m sorry,” murmured Darren, because he was.

It’s all right, lad,” sighed Albert, “it’s not until you wake up in the morning and get a shock because the undertaker’s not there with his tape measure that you get to realise how much you’ve forgotten. Yet there’s odd bits that jump out from the past, like the other day I recalled Greg Mastersson, a lad from my schooldays, when I was younger than you wee things are right now, and I knew that he hadn’t crossed m’ mind for above sixty years! I mean, Greg Mastersson! Short pants an’ all, but not like your short sporty pants, Darren, but grey school ones with ink marks on ‘em! But why did he spring to mind, his name an’ all, his shorts an’ their ink stains, his sloppy grin? I couldn’t tell you, ‘cause it’s just those things I recalled. Not his thoughts, his friendship, the things he said, I mean, were we friends? I dunno.”

It’s a long time to remember…” suggested Jennifer.

But my point is, most of it’s gone from up here,” he tapped his forehead, “The kids at school, most of the teachers and what they taught us, though Thrasher Parris and his cane, I remember them all right, these days you’re better off with no Thrashers in the staff room because they were cruel devils.”

I’m glad,” shuddered Darren.

You get to thinkin’, as you get older, that life ought to have been worth more. I mean, there’s this bit of a farm, it’s mine though my grandson’s in charge these days, but surely the best part of eighty years is worth more than a few fields of beans and cabbages and tiny fragments of forgotten things? And the girls I knew, beggin’ your pardon, miss, but I weren’t half brave enough! I never loved enough, never kissed enough, never touched enough… and Jennifer, my Jennifer from way back, went off with another guy. But she’s dead now, dead and buried this past few years, and I never said goodbye...”

Well, I tell you what, Albert, I’ll mash a pot of tea before we carry on our way,” said Darren, “and we’ll try to remember the lesson you’ve taught us.”

But you won’t lad,” sighed Albert, “we humans never do. We forget and the whole merry-go-round carries on for the next generation. Lives get lived and most of the livin’ gets forgotten. There’ll be another war soon… My uncle died in the last one…”

Tea, and then we really will have to get a move on,” urged Jennifer, changing the subject.

Before you forget where you’re makin’ for!” cackled Albert with an asthmatic choke.

© Peter Rogerson 12.05.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 12, 2021
Last Updated on May 12, 2021
Tags: memory, remembered, cycling, trailer, Albert


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..