Friday, 16 December 2016

The Avuncular and the Christmas Stocking

Three months had passed since Hannah Castle and I had made love in my room at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel and two days short of three months since she said she wasn’t sure we could be together.
Not that she didn’t love me or enjoy being with me, and I can say without being boastful that it wasn’t because she didn’t enjoy making love with me.
Nor did she think it was a mistake, a moment of madness or because she had drunk too much.
“I don’t regret it for a second” she said as we lay entwined beneath the duvet “I just have doubts”
Hannah just wasn’t sure if she could or should give over her heart, soul and life to a man 12 years older than herself.
I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed and I wasn’t happy about it but I wasn’t angry with her in fact I agreed with her to a point,
And I wanted her to be sure as well.
After all I had no words to convince a 29 year old woman to give her life to a man the wrong side of 40.
And nor would I have wished to use them if they were in my possession.

“I love you Tom but I just have to be certain sure” she said the moment before she drove away.
It was heart-breaking to watch her drive away because I had no such doubts.
For me that first night together was the blissful culmination of eight years of hope and desire.
Not just the love making but to hear my declaration of love returned in word and delicious deed.
It had been pretty much love at first sight for me, but then she was a beautiful sight to behold.
For her it was a more gradual falling and one that she desperately fought against tooth and claw whereas I simply surrendered to her.

Even before our chance meeting at the hotel Hannah had agreed to take a three month secondment in Milford Haven where she could be close to her sister and the twins so she suggested they take that time to think.
And in that time she would either get over me or know for certain sure I was the one.

While she was away I convinced myself almost on a daily basis that it was over and rightly so I thought at times.
If the worst came to the worst I consoled myself with the thought that I would always have the memory of that wonderful weekend when my love for her was finally validated.
In my darkest moments I did question if it was a moment of madness that brought Hannah to my bed.
I was glad for that madness if that’s what it was.
Though if Hannah did resolve that it was a mistake and it was over he would at least have the memory of that wonderful weekend to sustain him forever.
I prefer to think it was fate that brought us together on that wonderful weekend.

I would have liked to have exchanged the occasional text or email with her but Hannah had asked for total separation.
All I could do was throw myself into my work totally and fill my every waking moment with thoughts of anything and everything that wasn’t her.
Impossible of course but if in the unlikely event that I could exclude her from my thoughts I couldn’t stop her invading my dreams.
When I slept I dared to dream, so in the small hours of the sleepless night I resorted to the only thing that prevented me from being driven insane.
I wrote in a diary, I called it a dream diary, it was where I wrote every detail, every thought that filled my troubled sleep nightly, thoughts of love for the girl of my dreams.
The closer the end of the three months got the more intense the dreams became and evermore vivid with each passing day.

It was the day before Christmas Eve when I got the long awaited phone call, I took a deep breath and hit the button.
“Hello, Tom Flood” I said
“Hey Tom” she said
“Hannah?” I asked “God it’s good to hear your voice”
“Ditto” Hannah replied “Where are you?”
“I’m in London” I replied “Are you still in Milford Haven?”
“No I’m back home” she replied “When are you back?”
“Tonight” I replied
“Can we meet?” Hannah asked
“Yes” I said “Have you made a decision?”
“Yes I have” she replied
“And?” I enquired trying to keep the anxiety out of my voice
“I don’t want to say on the phone” she answered “I want to do it face to face”
“Ok” I said not knowing if that meant it would be good or bad
“Come to the house tonight” I said
“What time?” she asked
“Around seven” I replied “Let yourself in if I’m late, you know where the key is”
“Ok, I’ll see you tonight then Tommy” she said
“Ok, bye”

The journey out of London was an absolute mare and consequently I was late and it was nearly 8 o’clock when I drove onto the drive.
Since her phone call my stomach had been in absolute knots and arriving home late didn’t untangle it in the least.
The lights were on in the house so Hannah had let herself in I only hoped she was still there and hadn’t got tired of waiting.
As I sat in the pre-Christmas traffic I tried to ring her to warn her of my delay but my phone died.
So I sat on the drive trying to summon up the courage to go in, I was so desperate to know her answer but equally terrified of what it might be, yes or no.
“Yes” meaning she was sure and she would give all of herself to me unreservedly
Or “No” and we would never be together.
I reran the earlier conversation in my head and tried to read between the lines to find some hidden meaning or some indication as to her decision.
I slowly opened the door and stepped in.
“Hi Hannah” I called “I’m sorry I’m late, traffic was hell”
No answer, she must have got fed up of waiting after all.
“Shit” I exclaimed and took off my coat but as I hung it on the peg in the hall I noticed an unfamiliar coat already hanging there.
“She is here” I said
But where? Where was she exactly?
I hung my coat and walked into the lounge and that’s when I knew.
I knew because I saw the black stockings hanging from the mantel anchored beneath a Christmas candle so I knew where to find her.
And stood on the mantel next to the candle was a Christmas card
I opened it and read the words
“Happy Christmas Tommy
All my love
Beneath her signature there appeared to be an abundance of the obligatory small x’s but on closer examination each kiss was in fact the word “Yes”
And so I had my answer and my dreams were fulfilled.

No comments:

Post a Comment