The old man pushed yellow and green bits of foliage away from his watery eyes, as he tried to remember.
Wrinkled hands that had once held so much love, paused in mid-air as he stopped for a moment and realised that his time had not yet come. There were too many things that he chose to never forget; he needed more time to collate and file. More time to feel and touch the memories that had become a part of him.
It had been a long time ago. The girl had been so pretty then, so lovely. Her life, his life, had become one. They had never parted and yet………..
His feet carried him further through the greens and browns, until he came to an open space that stretched out across an ocean of grey and blue. Frothy waves seemed to kiss a jagged row of cliffs facing the place where he stood, but he couldn’t be too sure.
Age was like that.
Nothing was ever certain.
He sighed to himself before moving again, his eyes searching for something special. They had to be here. Even in a fit temper the sea didn’t come up this far he knew that, or at least he hoped he knew that. That was another thing about age, everything relied on hope.
A few minutes later he found what he was looking for.
For a moment all he could do was stare and listen to the quiet chat of sea and wave. There were no human sounds to spoil the peace. Or his memory.
He looked down and saw the two stony seats. They hadn’t moved in forty years. Natural yet forgiving, they had waited patiently for his return.
What was forty years after all?
The old man removed his hat, undid his weatherproof shooting jacket and sat down on one of the stones. It fitted perfectly.
As his hand stretched out and touched the empty seat next to him,he closed his eyes and allowed the waves to take his mind back to another time, a younger time, a time when she had been sitting next to him, a time when her kiss had been his life and soul………
Sebastian St John Sinclair, had been expelled from Eton but rescued by Harrow ‘on a trial basis’. The trial basis had, much to everyone’s amazement, resulted in a few ‘A’ Levels being passed with outstanding grades. Oxford had welcomed him with open arms but soon threw him out when it was discovered that his enthusiasm for women and drink far outweighed his enthusiasm for ‘Greats’ as they were known. To be fair though, how could Latin, Greek, Philosophy and Ancient History possibly compare with beer, fags and frilly knickers?
A friend of his father’s, an indulgent and kindly soul in both personality and wealth, had managed to come to the rescue on this occasion, by securing a place for the miscreant Sebby at Essex University. A militant kibbutz it may have been back then in the ’60’s, but the History of Art hit the spot, as indeed did the art historian lecturer who had identified some diligent virtue in this clever fellow with a pukka voice.
A degree of sorts was eventually awarded, although those in the know knew that Sebby’s manly charms, had probably had more to do with this than any particular interest in what impressions Monet considered worth painting.
Now this was the question that vexed Sebby’s mind more than anything else for the next few years, as he travelled around the world (well not really, but he was such a loveable bugger so what the hell) spending his father’s hard-earned cash – maybe not, his father had been a banker. The old boy wouldn’t really have minded he was sure, anyway there wasn’t a great deal his father could have said, stiffed up as he was in the family vault.
Decision making had never been one of Sebby’s strongpoints, but seeing things through to the end, one way or another anyway, certainly was – at least where drinking sessions and a pretty smile were concerned.
And then his life changed…………...
He had been sitting in one of the less salubrious bars of a Parisian backstreet, although this was probably putting it a trifle mildly; it was one of those typical flick-knife and stale egg baguette places that stank of Gitanes and criminal gossip. Even the odd greasy trench coat and felt hat appeared from time to time, making him feel as if he was sitting on the set of some ancient Froggy black and white movie and not a smelly little bar – not that the trench coat was of Burberry provenance, no class the Frogs and if nothing else Sebby had plenty of class.
As he took a sip of pastis and a long drag on his cigarette, he couldn’t help but observe his own reflection in the mirror facing him. Not bad he thought, not bad at all.
Even he had to admit that he was a handsome bugger, fair-haired, dimpled, typical movie star ‘craggy features’ etc etc. He didn’t dwell on his good looks though, he never had done in fact, for all his faults shallow vanity had never been one of them.
He took another pull on his cigarette and began to consider why on earth he tended to frequent these cheap and nasty dives. It wasn’t the money for God’s sake, he was loaded, at least his old man had been loaded.Maybe he just got a kick out of seeing how the other half lived and thanking his lucky stars that he was there out of choice – oddly enough something of the Essex kibbutz had rubbed off on him after all.
And then it happened.
‘Excuse me. Can you spare a smoke? I shouldn’t really but oh I don’t know I just feel like one.’
Sebb felt his arm being touched and turned around.
He was about to reply but the young woman’s eyes stopped him in his tracks. Her whole body stopped him in his tracks. She was so utterly beautiful. There was a darkness about her.Eyes, hair, expression and yet there was nothing of the sinister. In contrast her skin was pale, delicate even, it seemed to dare anyone to touch it, as her eyes looked into his with an honesty that was almost breathtaking.
‘I…..um….er…yes of course.’ Sebby mumbled as he offered her a cigarette from his packet. ‘Er….take a couple for later if you like.’
Women never unsettled him, let alone tied his tongue up in knots but this one had managed it, just by scrounging a fag off him. What the hell was going on?
‘No. That’s alright.’ The young woman replied.
Her smile nearly knocked him off his stool. ‘ One is enough thank you. I’m not really a smoker.’ She took a cigarette out of the packet and Sebby lit it.
‘You spoke English to me just now.’ Sebby said, he couldn’t think of anything else to say.’How did you know?’
There was another smile. Oh God that smile of hers!
‘ I heard you speaking at the bar. Your French is good. Very good. But I have lived in Paris most of my life. I have an English father. My name is Colette and your’s……..’
They spent the next two weeks gorging on each other’s flesh as they explored, discovered and liberated.
They loved all day and they loved all night. They just couldn’t stop loving.
Sebby’s hand remained resting on the empty stone seat as he remembered those two weeks in Paris. Since then he and Colette had married and remained together ever since. He had gone on to become an acclaimed art critic, she had gone then on to become the most beautiful mother in the world. He remembered the last time they had sat together in this special place. They had held hands then, they had loved so much.
He stood up, the waves finally telling him what he should do. Colette was at home, in body at least, her mind had disappeared a long time ago.Her beauty still lingered in the lucid moments but even they were tiring of life, of living. For a moment Sebby’s hands trembled with love and memory. He put his hat back on, zipped up his shooting jacket and made his way back through the undergrowth.
Colette may have vanished into another special place but her love remained.
One day he would sit with her again and hold her hand.
One day they would enjoy another wedding kiss.