Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
TITLE: THE GOOD TIMES
By mick dawson
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It had been at least six years since I’d seen my brother. He moved away to Auckland and when I finally caught up with him, I wished I hadn’t.
I remember riding up his driveway on a cheap bike I bought after getting off the plane and knocking on his door. A weak voice told me to come in.
Ian sat on a single lounge on the opposite side of a coffee table with glassy eyes turned to the floor. I asked him what was wrong, but I had already guessed. His marriage was rocky to say the least. No, worse than that, it was like a truce in Lebanon.
‘Would you like a scotch?’ he asked.
Without looking at me, he pointed aside to a drinks cabinet across the room. I helped myself and refilled his glass while I was at it before sitting down.
‘Barbara went yesterday,’ he said tonelessly. ‘She took the kids with her.’
I listened for the next hour as he related to me all the misdeeds of his wife and the pain he was feeling. I felt like I wanted to cry with him but I could see it wouldn’t help. The more he spoke the more despondent he became.
After an interval of prolonged silence, I asked him, ‘What will you do now?’
‘I’ve been thinking about that. There’s a pub down the road where I know I won’t be welcome. I’m going to drink some more, then I’m going to pick someone and if I’m lucky, he’ll kill me.’
It was not the response I had hoped for from Ian, but it was to be expected. I was the only Christian in my family and therefore for me, there was always hope for tomorrow. I could see things from his side. For him all he could see was that he had no wife, no job and no future.
‘Hey don’t do that,’ I found myself saying. ‘I mean, she’s gone and all you’ve got is memories of her, but all you’re doing is hanging onto the bitter side of her.’
‘But its true!’ erupted Ian.
‘I know it is, mate. I remember what she was like, but…I tell you what, I want you to do something for me, tell me about a funny time with her.’
‘I don’t feel like it,’ he said feebly.
‘Go on,’ I urged gently.
He raised his eyebrows slightly in thought and sucked in a breath.
‘Sometimes she used to ask me if she was getting fat.’
‘How’d you get out of that one?’
‘I told her…that just makes more of you to love.’
Despite myself, I started to laugh and even Ian sniggered sheepishly.
‘Tell me another one,’ I said.
Ian managed to hold a smile as he pondered for a moment.
‘Well, I remember when I was teaching her how to drive. Barb was woeful; she’d be all over the place. A couple of times I had to pull the wheel off her. Do you know what she said?’
I shook my head.
‘She said any idiot can drive on the left hand side of the road, it takes talent to drive on the wrong side.’
We both broke into laughter with me snorting my drink up my nose. When I finally finished spluttering I asked him, ‘So life was good with her then?’
‘Mmm,’ he answered, pursing his lips with a nod of his head.
‘Maybe that’s what you should remember, the good times. If you can do that, then when people ask you about Barb, you won’t say what she did to you, but how she was a pleasant chapter in your life. When you think pleasant thoughts of her, you’ll be able to forgive her and only then will you be able to move on.’
Ian nodded in concurrence. The smile had faded but there was at least a look of serenity. His eyes finally met mine for the first time since I entered his house, accompanied with the same impish smile Ian was always known for.
‘Well enough about me, what have you been doing?’
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