Monday, 19 November 2007

Part Three

Another quote that is very Jane - "Cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating!"
Katherine Hepburn.

(I wish I could say the same.)

Part Three

An hour later, Arthur got up and stretched. Really, laptops were a terrible invention. Designed to ruin backs and inflict RSI. He flexed his fingers, did a few stretches as advised by his oldest daughter, a zealous physiotherapist.

He peered at what he’d written and nodded. Five pages. He felt lighter inside. Closer to Jane. It was as if writing something for her had turned into a joint venture. She’s beside me, telling me what to write, he thought, and for the first time in ages he smiled. It felt strange, exercising those unused muscles. Pleasant. A relief.

Looking down he gazed at Gertrude, Jane’s large tabby who stared at him with supercilious green eyes. She’d been fed by the neighbour after Jane died but refused to move in next door. When Arthur arrived she had seemed pleased to see him but made it clear she didn’t like sharing her house with Mungo, Arthur’s five year old long haired scruff of a mongrel who, happily, was used to cats.

Arthur went into the kitchen, rattled Gertrude’s biscuit box and watched as she jumped down fluidly, gave each leg a good stretch, and deigned to follow him to her bowl. Daintily she crunched her tea, giving it full concentration before she settled down to a lengthy wash.

Mungo sat by the fire, his eyes never leaving Arthur. Having been bitten by Gertrude for interfering with her teatime, he had learned that there was only room for one person to eat in the kitchen, so he bided his time. Now it was his turn. Beaming, he skipped forwards, missing Gertrude by a whisker, and buried his nose noisily and happily in his bowl.

Arthur smiled again, made himself another mug of tea and saw the postcard sitting on the table by the phone. I should reply, I suppose, he thought, manners surfacing as ever. A brief note, that will do. And he sat down again.

Dear Mr & Mrs Pascoe,

Thank you for your postcard of St Mawes. I once visited there with Jane one Sunday afternoon in December. It was very cold I remember but we’d spent some time in the Victory pub before (and after) which kept us warm.

That day was crystal clear in Arthur’s mind. As the light fell we walked along Millionaire’s Row, he remembered. The road the other side of the castle with all the very expensive houses on it. And onto the headland, where we watched the watery sun dip behind the fields, finally sink from sight into the cold winter sea.

She leaned against me, and I wrapped my coat round her shoulders and for the first time in my life I knew what a terrible wrench it was to love someone so completely. For the first time in my life I was completely adrift and directionless. But when I was with her I was complete.

Arthur stared at the laptop screen, tried to banish the image of Jane leaning on his shoulder. It was so real he could feel the roughness of her jumper: woollen and scratchy.

He shook himself and continued writing. In reply to your question, my name is Arthur Grace and I have known Jane for a long time. I am living in her cottage which, as you will know, needs a lot of improvements. It is extremely cold and damp and my arthritis is not improving.

However you can rest assured that I will look after her cottage and love it for it reminds me of her. When I am able, I intend to put in proper heating and a damp course and make the necessary improvements but it needs doing sensitively, without ruining the very essence of the place.

Arthur stared unseeingly at the words and continued writing. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I can’t write, but I have to be near her. When her daughter rang to say she’d died I was in Vermont – which is where I live.

I miss her so much. She was one in a million.

He looked at it – self pitying drivel. I can’t possibly send that. And he deleted the last two paragraphs. Seeing his naked anguish in words was too painful, too embarrassing. Hurriedly he saved the document and turned off the laptop.

Whistling to Mungo, Arthur fetched the lead and decided to walk round the back of the cottage to the woods, Mungo pattering happily in front of him. There he could get away from the guilt of not being able to work, let go of some of this bank of pain that had built up inside him. There, in the woods, he had found a bench that he and Jane would sit on and look out at Polruan Castle, and further, out to sea. There he could cry, alone and undisturbed. There, one day, he hoped to be able to achieve a kind of peace.


wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Well, I am hooked on this story. Is there more?

Philipa said...

He wondered at the chains that bind. Chains of family expectation, of class, of ambition, of social judgement - the social judgement of those we call friends but who are in fact our gaolers.

He wondered at his own self pity, and his own self loathing. How could he have hurt her so much? It seems such a benign thing, to ignore someone. To turn away and pretend you don't know someone. It is such a hurtful thing, to be visibly embarrassed by an aquiantance. He wondered which child was his and knew that neither were. He wondered at the experience he had forced her into and whether she'd had a friend? Once again he sat and wept and knew it was more for his own weakness.

The finger writes and having writ moves on, and all your strength nor all your piety and wit can serve to rub out half a line.

Lane Mathias said...

oh the last lines make me think he's going to stay in her cottage?
Great story fp.

Flowerpot said...

wakeup - there will be more when I've written it! It seems to have walked into my life and taken me over. The novel that I was writing has been shoved aside at the moment.

Flowerpot said...

philipa - Arthur has a lot of problems but there's no doubt he loves Jane. Not sure if your comments refer to his story or to life in general...

lane - yes I think he will stay on if he can - if he isnt ousted. glad you enjoy it!

Philipa said...

FP - no no, to his life. Thought plot suggestions were welcome so forgive me if I'm operating on automatic and am in error. Just thought it would be interesting if, when they knew each other back in her mini skirt days that the reason they didn't up together was because it was an affair and she got pregnant and had an abortion. She'd gone to him and he'd turned away because, as so often is the case, he was happy to enjoy the fruits of a womans affections but when it came to the crunch his ambitions lay in a different direction.

I was just making up the story as it occured to me but will be tuning in to read the rest as you see it :-)

Akelamalu said...

This is your new novel m'dear! It's compelling reading. xx

Flowerpot said...

philipa - thanks for clarifying that! No, that wasn't the case - as ou will find out if you read on. Er - at least, when I thought about it this morning that wasn;t what had happened! Will find out more later...

Ak - yes, I think you could be right.! And I'm delighted you're enjoying it.

Ellee Seymour said...

We are all hooked on this flowerpot, will there be a happy ending? I doubt it somehow. All great stories have a sad ending.

the rotten correspondent said...

More, flowerpot, more. You could make me want to read the phone book.

This is great.

Anonymous said...

Arthur is such a sensitive man, I would love to meet him.

Crystal xx

Flowerpot said...

Ellee - very glad you're enjoying it. As for the ending - well, I haven't got that far. Arthur will not be entirely miserable I think for he deserves a bit of happiness. But as jane's not alive any more, how should that be achieved? I wonder...

Flowerpot said...

correspondent - THANK YOU!

Crystal - well, he is now. I somehow think he wasnt' this sensitive in his younger days. We all mellow as we get older. er - well, most of us!

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