Published on August 2nd, 2009 | by Jillian Wightman0
Just in Case by John Herman
Just In Case
This is the story of a life distraught but not destroyed; a pageant played in sequence in the eyes of your imagination.
So first imagine this; a rich evening of late summer. A spacious, gracious room whose windows open onto a garden terrace where in the afternoon the sun had warmed those who chose to take tea, or read, or admire with quiet delight the flowers in the richness of their beauty. Now all are gathered; the comfortable chairs describe an arc to face the light of the setting sun. This is a literary evening and a poet stands and prepares to read his work. All is quiet, the chatter stilled, each guest attentive, ready to be stirred by the chosen word and the apt phrase. The poet rises and begins to read. He knows the importance of eye-contact so his eyes rove here and there across the rows of chairs and faces; he knows no-one, for he is a visitor here. All are listening, for he reads well and speaks his words alive, but in all the unknown faces, one face attracts – a woman sitting in the far corner of the room. Her gaze never falters; she engages with his art and seeks intent to draw into her soul the beauty of the poetry she hears. He will not forget her.
Now, it is autumn; the orchards are laden and the vibrant colours of the trees line the forest paths. They walk together, the poet and his girl – for this is how he thinks of her, even though she is really a woman of mature years. Before, we only saw her seated, but now we see that she is quite tall. She has wind-tousled auburn hair and long legs which easily stride with him so that they are able to choose a pace with which both are at ease and comfortable. They are comfortable in each other’s presence too. There is beauty all around, but beauty in their conversation too; they speak eagerly from the heart and tenderly divulge, without haste and without dissembling, their inmost thoughts and dreams and fears – yet there is no fear here for each finds security in the profound acceptance of the other. Time passes imperceptibly and has for them no consequence . They walk around the lake and an autumnal gust ripples the surface; there is a thin threat of winter in the sunset skies.
Now winter has come and the dark days and stormy nights reflect the turbulence of the poet’s soul. For him this was no slow drift from autumn’s bounty into winter’s chill, the almost imperceptible loss of a couple of minutes of precious sunlight each day. No, for him this was a sudden, perfect storm, all the more ferocious because unexpected. Where is she now, this girl with whom he had felt so much at ease and whom he had begun to love? Dark, frantic thoughts had knifed his mind; perhaps she is ill, or injured or even (here panic grips him tightly like a claw) – dead. No, no, not so, her friends are reassuring; she is well, yet does this news bring healing? Not at all! This is not the work of some dread circumstance; this is her choice to fracture what had been their happiness. But why has summer’s promise and autumn fruitfulness proved barren in the winter storm? He trawls his memory for some injurious action or offensive word – but no avail. If only he could find her, hold her, soothe her, listen to her sadness. He would wipe her tears and cradle her until her weeping ceased and they might love again. If only…….!
Where would she be tonight? A sudden wild thought of a summer sunlit lounge springs to birth and, no sooner thought, than turned to action. He rises in haste, takes his coat and turns the key. He will go again to that remembered room of strangers and a friend he had not yet known, that precious first encounter just a few short months ago. Careless of the falling snow he will go again tonight in hope – just in case…….