No Man Is An Island, by Alan Lovell

No Man is an Island (17 07 16)
He sat there at his laptop his mind bereft of ideas. How could it come to this? A blank canvas and nothing to paint upon it. He sat and thought for a while and tried to remember a time went he had felt totally alone, and then to his surprise he remembered several such times starting way back when he was just a small child and he had fallen out with another boy who he had thought was his friend and the whole group of other children had sided with him. Yes, he had felt lonely then alright, but by the next day all enmity had been forgotten and life had carried on as usual. So maybe the episode had made a lasting impact on him, why else would he remember it after all this time?

And now he was genuinely alone. His wife of 40 years had died eighteen months before and each day he came across little signs of her presence as he went from room to room. The kitchen knives that had felt a different hand upon them; the laundry in the airing cupboard that was always her choice. Then one day at the back of the crockery cupboard he pulled out a tea cup and noticed it still had traces of her lipstick on it because it had not been washed properly, and in that quiet moment on his own he put it to his own lips and remembered her all over again. Her smile, the smell of her.

Not that their marriage was always smooth and loving of course. There had been times when he felt almost hate about something she had said or done. Times when he felt as if she was on an entirely different planet from the one in which he lived. There was he, struggling to deal with a major problem at work which he knew could lead to the downfall of the company and his position with it, when she berated him for having forgotten to pick up the present she had ordered for her sister’s birthday. Oh what a bust up that had caused, ‘how thoughtless and forgetful he was’. ‘How she had chosen the gift so carefully and now she would not be able to wrap it and send it in time to reach her sister on her birthday.’

How could he tell her that what she was so exercised about was really very trivial compared with what was happening at work, that their whole livelihood was at stake. The children’s education, the house they lived in, the holiday in Italy she was so looking forward to. So he just sat there in morose silence, poured himself a whisky and let her nag on until she blew herself out, the anger inside himself still seething.

But time passed, the work situation resolved itself in a satisfactory way and life went on. The children grew up, married and moved away. He saw them only occasionally now. Even the phone calls from the friends they had jointly shared were rare now. It was his own fault he realised. Sunk within his own grief he had withdrawn into his shell, pottered in his immaculate garden, made his little model ships and kept the world at bay. And now he realised, perhaps for the first time, that he would actually like some company. Somebody to share his thoughts with. Someone to go out and visit with and enjoy a nice meal. Someone to just be there.

‘But where to start?’, he asked himself. How do I begin again? And then……………….

But I must………………No man can be an island forever.


About Rosemary Noble

Writer, author, amateur historian and traveller
This entry was posted in Exercise of the Month, Story and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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