Friday, 2 November 2012

#FridayFlash - Forever

It was late in the afternoon in December. We lay on the bonnet of Petey's car, parked up in a clearing at the edge of the old town woods. We ate cheese sandwiches and drank weak tea, watching stormclouds drift down from the north. They brought snow that day, and we stayed there catching snowflakes on our tongues and eyelashes until our joints got stiff. We clambered, numb and half-frozen, into the car. We laughed and sang along to the radio while the ancient heater cranked into life, and we thawed in the front of his Datsun. He told jokes and I giggled, and everything seemed right with the world. Then the Rubettes came on and Petey got serious, taking my hands and telling me he'd love me forever, if only I'd love him too. We kissed and made the kind of stupid promises you make when you're too young to know any better.

That was thirty eight years ago. Two weeks later, Petey lost control on the ice and slid off the ring road into a tree. I cried for a week but life moves on, doesn't it? I met Tony at a disco at my art college and thought we'd be together forever. Three months later he finished with me - he mumbled something about the "weird shit" in my house and walked out, complaining of doors banging at all hours and the dog barking at nothing in front of the TV. Robert, a guy I met at the gallery, said the same thing and left after six months. Took me three more attempts at a relationship until I finally saw Petey too, outlined in starlight on the landing when I went to the loo one Tuesday night. I'd promised forever, hadn't I?

Now I'm a couple of years shy of 60, and Petey's still here. He spooks the little trick or treaters at Halloween, and he even scared off a couple of lads who tried to break in. Pity I can't tell the insurance people and get a reduction on my premium. He potters about when I'm out, and we sit and watch TV when I'm in. I don't always see him these days, he's faded as time's gone on, but I know he's there. I can smell the cheap leather from that old Datsun, or I hear his laugh in the kitchen when the dinner goes wrong again.

Folk just see a woman on her own, no kids or husband, and they ask if I'm lonely, but how can I be? I've got my Petey, haven't I? He keeps me company when no one else will come round, and if this cough is anything to go by, I'll be seeing him soon enough. I don't mind, not really. After all, we promised "Forever".

23 comments:

Stephen said...

Hi there Icy -- really liked the feel of a settled in house-life/house-death in this one: sitting watching TV together; pottering about. Sounds like a good relationship. And having a ghost means you don't need to but a centrepiece for Halloween -- just add webs and a pumpkin. :) St.

Stephen said...

"But"? Ach, I meant "buy". ;) St.

alisonwells said...

The quality of your writing, so evident as you bring us right into the story with detail and good pace, then you twist the story into something unexpected and it's a fantastic tale for this spooky time of year. Very accomplished and enjoyable Icy thanks.

Dijeratic said...

Classic little ghost story - lovely.

Larry Kollar said...

For some people, forever really is forever. It was good of them to recognize that. A happy ending, in a very real way. Much to love about this!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Stephen - I'm glad you liked it!

Alison - I try my best :-)

DJ - Thanks!

Larry - I'm not sure I was actually going for a happy ending, but if that's how it comes across, then that's cool too.

ganymeder said...

Oh, that's heart-breakingly sweet! Lovely!

Tony Noland said...

This must be why marriage ceremonies don't say "forever"... they say "until death do us part".

Creepy.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Ooh don't know whether I think this relationship creepy or sweet, but there is something lovely about the homeliness at the end. And love the snow flakes at the beginning.

mgideon said...

You painted this beautifully. For me, it started almost creepy, but ended sweetly.

Steve Green said...

I would like to echo Alison's comment.
This story does draw the reader in, and along with it.

A very well put together story Icy.

Sulci Collective said...

whatever happened to 'till death do us part'? If he really loved her, he would let go of her into the rest of her life and not still possess her, in both senses of the word. I felt her melancholy despite her trying to find the positives at the end.

marc nash

Icy Sedgwick said...

Cathy - Glad you liked it!

Tony and Virginia - Yeah, I was going for creepy....

Aaron - It's funny how different people react differently to it!

Steve - Thanks!

Marc - I'm glad you picked up on that, there's a bit of frustration in there that he keeps scuppering her relationships.

Katherine Hajer said...

I'm with Marc -- I got the impression of a lovely, caring, sweet control freak. Sort of the "ex doesn't believe they're an ex" taken to extremes.

That's what made it a strong story for me though. I liked how the narrator was honest about her own development arc -- how at first she got over him, then felt isolated, then just gave in.

Cindy Vaskova said...

I see one of your real spooky experiences build into this fabulous ghost story!

Enjoyed the piece Icy :)

Helen said...

I guess sometimes forever is forever. I think it a shame that Petey scared away her other opportunities of relationships, but someone this story has a sweet feel to it - the romance that never died.

Helen said...

Oops that darn keyboard typing what it likes! someone should read somehow. ^_^

JC Rosen said...

The sweetness of the relationship they develop outweighs any sadness for her lost possibilities. This is a touching tale, Icy. I enjoyed it so much, I read it twice straight away. Thanks.

Take care,
JC

flyingscribbler said...

It's the touching elements of this story: the smell of the datsun, laughing at her dinner disasters, which work for me and make this a credible tale. All finished off with your usual deftness. I wasn't sure about it in the first paragraph as it didn't seem to be the sort of thing I like. Which just goes to show you should always persevere with a book/story.

the EX press said...

Short, sweet and...UNUSUAL! Excellent - a new take on an old idea and and OWNING it in the process. Not usually a fan of short stories, but found this one to be a satisfying meal :)

daniellelapaglia said...

I love how she's just accepted him as part of her life rather than having him drive her nuts. It's a nice twist no the haunting how he's become her companion instead of a source of dread.

John Wiswell said...

See, that ghost that refuses to move on and spooks some kids and gives a little chill in the palm to let you know he's holding your hand - that's romantic to me. Also stalker behavior, but I did make a promise. I found it positively winning.

modscheherzade said...

I loved this like everyone else Icy -- its romantic achingly sad at the same time -- one is left hoping she does get reunited with Petey soon.

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