Then and Now by Angela O’Connor

Angela’s response to the trigger ‘then’.

Then and Now by Angela O’Connor

The party starts at 9pm. It’s 7.45 already, I haven’t washed my hair! Panic sets in. 15 minutes to wash, about 20 to dry then make-up, shit I don’t even know what I’ll wear.

‘Just put on that wool jersey tunic, you know the green one, or what do you call it “sage”. It’s got a great neckline if you know what I mean. Throw those new cream trousers on that you came home with yesterday.’

‘What about shoes?’

‘Mmm, ah yes these strappy bronze sandals, you haven’t worn them since last summer, at our party, go on they’re sexy. Perfect, you look gorgeous darling’. The smile in Steve’s voice was reassuring.

‘Thank-you, you are too kind. It’s just, well, I haven’t been out in ages. And look at the time now!’

‘Look, you have to calm down Georgie, it doesn’t matter if we’re late, sorry, you’re late. People are people, all of them our friends. Anyway, don’t they say it’s fashionable to be late.’

The words ‘true, very true’, massaged my mind as I gave myself the once over in our unforgiving full length mirror. It would have to do. I tried to remember when smiling came easily, gone, gone like my joy. I really need to change the wattage in this room.

I arrived at 9.38pm, late but fashionably so. So, with customary bottle of wine, a dry white from New Zealand, I sauntered up the driveway following the fairy lights, acting as my luminary guides.

Classic Phil Collins was playing with gleeful streams of laughter bursting out at regular beats. Surprisingly, I felt at ease – calm almost.

‘Ah Georgie, you’re here, it’s so good to see you! Let me take your things for you’.

‘This is for you Anne, happy birthday’.

‘Thanks, Georgie, my favourite white, from the Marlborough region, you are a good mate. How are you anyway?’

‘Good, yeah a lot better, thanks. I’ve even managed to stop the meds’.

‘Wonderful, that’s great news … baby steps. It’s been a horrible year, but am so very happy you made it tonight. You have to start interacting again babe. Look, help yourself to anything, everyone is here, I’ve got to rescue some vol-au-vents from the oven’. Anne leaves after a quick kiss and embrace.

An hour has passed and I’m standing, by myself, at the French doors gazing into the party at the party goers. Observing them but not being one. Detached and weary is how I feel, even in a great neckline! I want to leave. Then I feel you near me, you whisper in my ear ‘I’m sorry I left you, left us, too early but remember my love, I’m with you, always’.

I dry my tears and join the others, the music has changed.

THE END OF A LOVE AFFAIR by BARRIE PURNELL

One for Valentine’s day from new member Barrie?

                   THE END OF A LOVE AFFAIR

BARRIE PURNELL

We met by chance it was a brief encounter just one night

We talked and laughed and kissed goodbye and said we’d write

Words thrown into the darkness not to be examined in the light

But her letter told me of her love in words so erudite

They broke through my defences like a stick of gelignite

So from that chance encounter a lifetime love affair took flight

 

We stole time for days together nights we couldn’t say goodbye

We hid inside each others hearts oblivious to passers by

I told her I would always make her happy and never make her cry

I would give her everything I had and never ask her why

And that from all previous lovers my bonds I would untie

And all my secret places I would let her occupy

 

She soon knew all about me understood everything I said

She had the key to thoughts I kept locked up in my head

Dylan’s words became the soundtrack to our lives when newly wed

She played me Leonard Cohen’s songs when we lay together in our bed

We were living in the moment no thought of what might lie ahead

We pushed away reality and wrapped ourselves in youth instead

 

Our love was all embracing it was a selfish love I know

No time for family or friends or that nightly TV show

Pursuing our ambitions we watched our fortunes grow

Searching for that croc of gold at the end of life’s rainbow

So as years passed and ambitions faded how were we to know

That we’d find just what we’d dreamed of that long long time ago

 

We had all of those possessions we’d once looked at from afar

A big house with indoor swimming pool and a silken lined boudoir

The chairs they were by Chippendale with a walnut escritoire

On the wall a painting by Rossetti we purchased in Dunbar

With gold and silver jewellery from an Istanbul bazaar

And outside in the garage a big black Bentley car

 

But when I lost my love those dreams dissolved in the cold November rain

Her photographs and my memories are now all that remain

To remind me of those sunnier times that I never can regain

I was left feeling like an addict who’s deprived of his cocaine

All those sympathetic words raised tears I struggled to contain

Just realising that my life would never be the same again

 

Oh if life could only stay the same but that’s never going to be

Times thief steals love from everyone this time his victim’s me

The pain of loneliness or death is just a matter of degree

The night ignores my cries for help it is my enemy

A dark crevasse down which I fall where no one hears my plea

Only when we masquerade as lovers in my dreams am I set free

 

There are no words at my despair at losing her for good

Does it matter now I loved her and did everything I could?

And if to bring her back I shout her name into the graveyard’s wood

Just an echo of my voice comes back like I always knew it would

We rarely see him coming that reaper with his scythe and with his hood

And if we did would he know of our grief would he have understood?

 

Immortality is not for us we are just nature’s slave

It wields a random hand when selecting who’s next for the grave

However many deeds of kindness done or sinners we forgave

However many penances we take to the Cardinal’s conclave

But I can’t stop the tears of sadness for a love I could not save

And though I promised my love many things I never promised to be brave

 

I now look enviously at young lovers like some secretive voyeur

Time once a thief of love is now a devious saboteur

Distorting all my images of love so they all fade and blur

But my love was not so brief that I can forget how we once were

Yet a day will come, as if by accident, when I will not speak about her

Even once — and this the last line I will write her