The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes:
Regret, like Revenge served cold
sitting in our back garden one summer night facing our bedroom
window, the curtains drawn, the light off. I remember picturing
you on the other side in our bed, sleeping, snoring, your arm
curled under a pillow, your head upon it, your knees far apart,
still trying to push me away.
I looked away, up
and away, and laid back on the grass, staring blindly at the distant,
dead night sky, silent save for an occasional plane, their lights flashing,
reminding me of lives elsewhere.
Sometimes I used to think my life was the only reality; that everything
else was to fuel my being, what I wanted. Which is difficult, really,
when I didnt know. Its funny the things that make you take
stock and force realisation.
Still on that cool grass I carefully poured the remains of a bottle
of beer into the side of my mouth and tossed the empty monstrosity over
my head into the bushes. I knew where itd gone, and also knew
--despite my show of rebellion-- that I would seek it out the next morning
and add it to the recycling in the shed. Your cat let out a teeny meow
and I wondered whether Id come close to hitting her, but I knew
she liked sitting on the shed, not behind or to one side. Her call was
more a "welcome to my garden, friend".
And, sure enough, within a few moments she was there, prowling around
me, meowing some more. I reached out a hand and she came to me. How
easy it was, and how much I miss it now. If only Id known to appreciate
it more. Or perhaps I did, but my mind wouldnt let me acknowledge
it. Within a few moments, though, she tired of my hand, my cold fingers,
and, meowing once more, clambered up onto my stomach. We lay in silence
forever, it seemed. I remember so many thoughts. No, not thoughts: more
a discussion. As the breeze picked up and calmed; as the clouds moved
seamlessly so far above; as you lay peacefully sleeping, blissfully
That was the first night the thought entered my head as something more
than a passing fancy or doubt. I dont ever remember loving you
more than I did then, that cold night in our garden with your cat, warmed
by the knowledge your love awaited my return. But then, I dont
ever recall loving you less, either. Just that it all started to seem
like it was blurring into a same-ness; something we did; something we
were. And I wondered whether it was something we still wanted. Okay,
I wondered if it was something I still wanted. And I wasnt sure,
and I didnt want to prolong an uncertainty. But then, neither
did I want to discard it.
I think your cat realised this long before I did. She certainly never
baulked all at my frequent questions. Unlike you did later. Having said
that, what I remember you saying more than anything was: "How can
you be sure?"
And I couldnt. Of course I couldnt. Who ever can be? There
are risks, and we take them. Such is life. We know this, weve
known it a lifetime, and so thats what we do. The thing is, we
dont always know what were doing before, during or after
the act; or why we began it in the first place. And sometimes thats
Before too long your cat would urge me back inside to your warmth, she
--like me-- believing solace, peace and love could still be found there,
despite all wed discussed. I mean your cat and I. It was like
she chose to stay out there for us, thinking my thoughts, considering
my doubts, my fears, our future, suffering the cold. While she was doing
that, for me, for us, it allowed us to be us. And it enabled me to return
to you after entertaining such dark ideas. I should be grateful: she
probably saved our lives, although even she couldnt save our life.
And so, yes, as you know, I ended our time together. All those tears,
smiles and memories in the making, all those assuaged doubts. Then,
one night when your cat doesnt happen to come calling on me in
our garden --later, we found, because shed died two doors down,
probably listening to me one last time, realising the futility of all
her efforts, and choosing to just give in, to concede defeat: I was
a lost cause and you could do better; even I know this now - I decide
thats it, the end. And we were no more.
How harsh I was. How cold. Believing it might help you move on. But
even now I cant commend myself on my actions, for I know they
were self-serving and disloyal.
One thing I never considered --or, if I did, I never considered it well
enough-- was how wrong I could have been; how I would grow to miss you
more than I dreamed possible, more than I dreamed you could miss me,
even though I always thought your suffering would be greater. That sounds
awful, I know, considering what I did. But I had no idea. If I had,
I would never have left you; but instead would have done everything
in my power to stay with you. I should have fought to retain your love,
if you ever considered what Id considered, and foolishly done.
And yes, I know you said this --or words similar-- at the time, and
for some time after, throughout your tears, but I couldnt hear
you back then. However, believe me, Im hearing you far too frequently
© Dave Burton October 2005
More Stories here
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.