Sitting By The Lake
A pipe. A light. Water. Serenity. The smell of pine. Tussocks of grass to sit on.
Darkness in the trees that reflect his mood. A match that will not light. Thoughts that take him far from serenity. Far from the waters edge . Far from water so clear fish can be seen cavorting beneath.
His mind is shallow. His carefully tousled hair that looked so good the night before, is falling into his eyes. The world looked good the night before. Then he could have enjoyed the pipe and the scents of the forest and the rippling of water sheen. He could have listened to the birds and smiled as a snake slipped past trying not to be noticed.
That morning, the morning after, he had got out of his bed and walked to the lake. He did not shave or wash. He just picked up the old pipe and the matches intended for the log burner; noticed as he had never noticed before how empty his house was even though it was full of stuff. The air was full of dust in the early slant of dawn. The windows looked out on the world hazily, lazily as if they just didn't care. He had stood for a long moment absorbed in that emptiness, aware that every movement he made, every second that passed was taking him away from everything he had believed was his. His by right.
The restaurant was her favourite. Smoochy music played in the background. It was a girly pink velour kind of place with heart shaped pictures on the wall. He ran it all through his mind as he tried to light the pipe. The way the waiters took their coats, pulled out the chairs, placed the napkins on their laps, gave them the menus, advised them of the chef's specials. This place had Michelin stars. It was a place for special events. She had asked what was so special. He said he just had a feeling that this night over all the other nights would be one they would remember forever. She had smiled.
That smile annoyed him. It was a smile full of presumption. Was she expecting a marriage proposal? The night was far more special than that. It was the marker of the zenith of his career. Of course, he didn't tell her that. She would have asked what career he meant. That would have annoyed him too. He did not want to explain. He did not want to tell her of self-set ambitions. Did not want to tell her that she was the one who had lasted the longest. That they just had to get to tomorrow safely.
When the waiter took her coat he noticed that she was wearing a dress that revealed too much cleavage. Other men would be able to see what was his and his alone. He noticed the ring she was wearing. A previous boyfriend had given it to her. She kept sweeping a lock of hair from her face. How come she didn't know how to fix her hair? He tried to concentrate on her eyes. They sparkled at him, spoke both of love and of longing, seeming to demand a response from him. He did not want to respond. He wanted to get through this night. He wanted to achieve his ambition. He wanted her to last longer than all his other girlfriends. The ones he knew the names of but would never name, not to her, not to anyone. Just in case.
The next morning, as he sat by the lake, he felt bitterly disappointed in himself. The shrink had given him loads of information about keeping his temper. He had managed so well for so long. And last night he was on the verge of the longest ever when she had...
He turned his gaze to the fish cavorting under the rippling sheen of water, watched them gobbling greedily.