Benchwarmer

By Joe Lucking

 

She refreshed him like spindrift.

Pluviophiles who never owned an umbrella, they jumped in and out of puddles, danced and kissed and kissed and danced, as rain that most eminent artist, sketched brilliance.

Addicted to love, shivelight, and petrichor.

With her he was no longer a benchwarmer, a dirt tracker, a shell suit wearer, the twelfth man.

She had other lovers; he didn’t mind.

A voracious reader, she shouted “literature is just a load of words, where feeling is absent.”

They took a holiday from themselves, walking in enchanted forests, listening to susurrus.

This a place of refuge, when ordinary, educated, English, middle-class people, deprived of petrol and Kentucky fried chicken, turned quickly into a bloodthirsty howling mob.

Are days in paradise worth years in hell?

“Surely even a hellish life can be interesting” she suspired.

As she slept, he pried under her eyelids, rummaged through her knicker draw, searching the answer.

Her qualities of selective truth, dependability, and reasonableness were admirable.

Together they spun a web of fairy tales.

A secretive shallow man, he dreamt of retiring from the world, as she dived headlong into its glorious terrifying depths.

The shadows of human frailty followed like a night intruder.

Malevolent tongues said an apanthropist in love with a pantophile could never last.

As love is spoken that’s the beginning of its end.

“The truth matters.”

He lied to himself.

Life through youthful illusion is remembered fondly by the elderly.

In unequal measure we’re all saints and sinners with the capacity to save, persecute and prosecute, swithering our way through time.

Even sensitive, independent thinkers ingrained with histories, ecstasies, and tears, can detach, be cold, be grown up.

Other women were no substitute, and so in his dotage, before memories were stolen, a return to their canal bench beckoned, to reflect on fantasies, guilt, and inferiority.

Eyes closed, listening to the wind ululate at the awful mystery of her absence.

 

Joe Lucking writes for Theatre, Radio, and Screen. You can find him on twitter @joelucking66 and read his stories at https://rjlucking66.wixsite.com/website 

 

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