In last week’s writing group we had to come up with favourite words that started with the same letter as our names. mine were obviously M.V.T. These were then passed on two places, so that we had someone else’s words to write with. I had Ulrika’s words: Love, Unique, Warm (or why) and Marketing (or movement). Annette then invited us to chose a picture (there were many on the table face down) and to connect the picture to the words and tell a story. Here’s mine …..
The painting was by an artist I like, Edward Hopper. I have used his other works before as inspiration from which to write for myself and also for advanced English classes.
And here’s my story …
Alice stared into the coffee cup as if all her problems could be solved within its depths. In one hand she held the saucer while in the other she cradled the cup as if to warm herself. Neither the night nor the bar were cold but Alice felt a chill that she had ever felt before. A chill of desolation. Never before in her life had she felt so forlorn. The bar around her was almost deathly quiet with the occasional noise of plates and cutlery chinking through the kitchen door. She was alone in the bar, alone in the world and alone in her mind. ‘Why?’ she said quietly to the empty chair opposite.
Her life had become a series of mechanical actions of late. Get up, shower, read the paper, eat, listen to the radio, bed. She’d heard the words ‘going through the motions’ before but this was the first time ever she had truly understood what they meant. Life without meaning, without purpose. She wondered for how long she could do this.
Love had surprised Alice many years previously when Harvey caught her falling purse, like her very own sir Galahad. If love at first sight was a real thing, and at that moment she was sure it was, that’s what happened between them. Harvey had handed her purse back to her and smiled. He looked so directly into her eyes that she blushed. In that instant she felt she had revealed herself. As Harvey had handed her the purse their hands touched. Looking back Alice felt sure that in that warm touch there was an electricity between them that joined their souls from that moment onwards. IF pushed she would have said that their souls were almost definitely joined before that moment, but hadn’t crossed in this lifetime.
They had dated and had what others referred to as a whirlwind romance. She gave Harvey everything and in return got everything from him. Their love was unique, symbiotic, fulfilling. Then Alice fell pregnant. She thought they had been careful enough, but it seemed that fate was sealing their union with a child. Harvey immediately proposed as Alice gave him the news. She was touched by his offer, but didn’t want to trap him. Janice her best friend had suggested that is exactly what had been Alice’s plan all along. Alice knew differently but all the same that vestigial niggling doubt of her subconscious wouldn’t allow her to answer yes straight away without checking Harvey’s sincerity. He had been slightly offended at the time and professed his love for her. Before another month had passed they were married.
Within no time, Alice could feel the movement of their growing child and shared every detail of her pregnancy with Harvey. So unlike most men of his time and generation Harvey had wanted to know everything. This was the template for their partnership. They shared everything.
Alice’s mind brought her up short as she remembered the moment much closer to the present when Harvey had shared his hateful diagnosis. She shuddered inwardly and outwardly as if she had been touched by a draft. She picked up her cup and brushed that painful memory away like a grimy cobweb. With effort she returned her mind to their good times.
The birth of their daughter was perfect. They named her Beatrice in honour of Harvey’s long gone mother. As the years passed and she grew their lives were enriched. They travelled all over the continent, even venturing as far as the Americas for a short trip. Despite trying Alice was not able to bear any more children, but the three of them had the best of lives. Alice was often heard to say aloud to no one in particular that she had the perfect life, a life she loved.
In no time Beatrice had grown to a young woman and headed out to university. She was to study a new-fangled course with some kind of marketing title. She would be far from home. For a while Alice was saddened but knew that Beatrice had to live her own life, as she had lived hers before her.
Alice jumped back to the present and looked around the bar. The waitresses were at the other end of the bar eating their meals and chatting now. The noise was welcome. All distractions were welcome. Alice listened to their frivolous chatter and felt the huge burden of where her life was now fall back on her shoulders.
She had tried to contact Beatrice when Harvey had shared his news. Beatrice had moved on again, taking Alice’s beautiful little grandson with her. How she had wished Beatrice had allowed her to know Steven better. The memories she had were good but few. How she had wished things had been different.
‘What went wrong?’ she muttered as she stood to go get the bill and pay. She had had a unique and perfect love, a near as dammit perfect life then the gods had stepped in to take away her happiness step by step. ‘Why?’ she asked herself again.
If you have been following the blog of late you might recognise the name Steven from two previous short stories… stay ‘tuned’ to find how their stories connect.
Previous part – Sweet dreams
Part one – Who’s that girl?
And yes I used all Ulrika’s six words.