Mind The Gap

The warning rang out ‘Mind the gap’ ‘Mind the gap’. It was years since Simon had last been to a London underground station.  He was apprehensive and wondering about the wisdom of his journey.  He was going to meet Peter.

In the long journey getting here he had looked back.  He remembered when he first saw Peter.  It was the day of his wedding to Lucy.  He and Lucy had been schooolfriends, they had always got on and were known by everyone as ‘best friends’.  He felt relaxed in her company, he never had to explain himself.  She was pretty and easy-going and he had to admit to himself that she adored him.  So in their middle twenties when they had finished their educations and looking forward to pursuing professional careers it seemed the right time to consolidate their partnership.  Both sets of parents were delighted when they announced their decision.  They clubbed together to organise a ‘splendid do’. 

It was at the ‘splendid do’ that he saw Peter - as soon as their eyes met the attraction was instantaneous.

Simon had been attracted to other boys at school, but he had pushed it away he didn’t want to go down that road and after all he had Lucy.  It happened two or three times when he was at University, but he dismissed it and avoided it.  There was always the thought of what would my Mum and Dad think?  And there was Lucy.

But, for this to be on his wedding day of all times!  When the ceremony was over and the reception in full swing he managed to seek Peter out.  The attraction was clearly mutual, almost irresistible.  It turned out that Peter was a distant cousin of Lucy’s, they chatted for a short while, then Simon walked away, overwhelmed and confused, he tried to look relaxed in his role as the groom. Lucy looked beautiful in her wedding dress and was clearly enjoying her day.  All the men wanted to dance with her – she was the ‘ Belle of the Ball’.  Simon danced mostly with Lucy’s sister and friends.

Changing into their going away outfits Simon didn’t have much to say, but he didn’t need to, as Lucy was full of the day.  As they left for their honeymoon they were noisily cheered off  by family and friends.  Simon glimpsed Peter in the crowd.  The end of a perfect day, or it should have been.

The honeymoon was difficult for Simon, but he didn’t think Lucy was aware of it, he certainly hoped not.  In the past he had always discussed anything that was bothering him with her, but this was something that could not be shared.

The next four years were occupied with coping with their demanding careers and creating a home. They both enjoyed gardening and cycling. Making new friends and always spending time with their families, Lucy had three brothers and a sister.  Simon was an only child so he cherished being part of  her family, as he had been since his schooldays.  However, the image of Peter was always in his mind – he often dreamt of him.

It was then that Lucy’s maternal grandfather died.  The family were shocked as his illness was brief and he was relatively young.  The crematorium was crowded – he had many friends and, of course, his large family.  Simon and Lucy were there – Lucy clearly displaying their first unborn child.  And Peter was there.  In some way, unfortunately, as Simon was now fairly content with his lot and looking forward to being a father.  

After the Service they all left the crematorium for a nearby hotel to partake in the drinks and refreshments - a time for everyone to speak to the widow and to  reminisce about the lost, loved and respected man.  Simon and Peter escaped to an upstairs room and hungrily embraced – they didn’t need words to express their desire for each other.  Simon could not resist the temptation - it was over whelming – all thought of Lucy washed away.  When it was over they returned downstairs separately – so that no-one would connect their absence.

Lucy was looking for him, “Where have you been?” “I just went out for a breath of fresh air.  Are you tired?  Shall we go home?”

They said their goodbyes and Simon accompanied his heavily pregnant wife to their car.  He didn’t see Peter – they hadn’t made any plans to meet again – both somewhat bowled over by this encounter.  Simon hadn’t asked Peter if he had thought about him for these last four years, or what relationships he was in or had had.  Words were superfluous in the brief circumstance.

The baby was an eight pound boy.  They decided to name him after Lucy’s grandfather – George Henry.  He was christened in the local Parish Church and afterwards  they had refreshments in the Parish Hall.  A simple affair just sandwiches and cakes prepared by the new proud grandmothers for family and a few friends.  In just under two years George was joined by a sister, Emily Jane.

Lucy and Simon decided that he should become the sole breadwinner.  His career was going well and with a few adjustments they could manage comfortably.  Lucy was a natural mother, perhaps it was having been part of a big family, or just her  pleasant easy-going nature.  They were both devoted to the children and built a family life around their love of the outdoors.  When the children were old enough they went camping, preferably by the sea. Sometimes Lucy’s eldest brother, Dean, his wife Jean and their three children joined them.  George and Emily loved this, having their cousins to play with.

Simon thought of Peter, but it wasn’t an overriding distraction.  Basically, he was very satisfied with his lot.  Work, Lucy and the children were his world - the years just slipped away.  But this world was totally shattered when the children were in their teens.  Lucy was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  She only lived another three years.

Simon was bereft - together since their school days – he couldn’t imagine life without her.  However, he told himself that he had to be strong for the children.  Emily couldn’t stop crying – George, now nearly twenty, didn’t display his grief so openly. The funeral was a crowded affair – the big family and their many friends.  For Simon it went through in a haze.  Peter wasn’t there, but he hadn’t  looked for him nor noticed his absence.

It was several weeks later that Simon received a letter of condolence and apology from Peter.  He had been out of the country at the time, his mother had told him about Simon’s tragic loss.  Peter suggested that they should meet in London.  So here was Simon making this journey – again questioning the wisdom of it – did he think it would heal his broken heart?

Peter was waiting for him at the station.  It was an odd meeting, rather uncomfortable - they’d never spoken at length before.  Peter expressed his sympathy and Simon asked him about his life style, but he couldn’t concentrate on the answers.  They had a few drinks and a meal, then Simon caught his train home.  It was as though something within him had died with Lucy – all desire - all wanting.

Joan H

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