James Flowerdew

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This was it, she could hear him thumping about.
She'd waited so long. Soon it would happen, and then they'd be together.
This was what she was for. This was the night.
Better wait out here on the stairs a bit longer, no wild rush.
Things could get messy If he wasn't finished.

Silence for a minute and then temptation overrode patience. She gently paced through the doorway.
The hall light was on, and the door to the living room was ajar so she headed through, and there he was. He was spread across the floor between the window ad the table. His eyes screwed up and his mouth curled in a frown. His face looked sulky somehow, but that didn't matter.
How to start? This was a special event, and should be done special.
She'd wake him with a kiss, like in a fairytale, that would be it.
This took a while, it had to be perfect, and yet the manoeuvre proved awkward. It should be gentle and loving, not a clumsy fumbling kiss. Passionate and yet not rushed. It also seemed important to her that he would see her eyes when he woke.
She went round him a couple of times and then moved in and carefully kissed him.
Nothing, he just flopped a bit to the side. What was wrong? She thought for a while, and then just pulled and shook on his sleeve. This woke him.

He paused and looked around, and then sat up, wiping his face. His eyes met hers, and grew cold, his normal bulldog frown fell further, and then he composed himself.

She smiled at him, and he got up to standing. She could tell he understood, this was so exciting. She went to the hallway door, and then beckoned him on.

He hesitated and looked about himself vacantly, which prompted her to look around herself and finally take in the house that she'd only caught brief glimpses of, despite her religiously held vigil of so many nights.

It was a strange flat, smaller and darker than need be, and yet over-lavishly decorated with oil paintings of majestic galleons and slightly grim land or seascapes. All serious, no smiles, no bowls of fruit or nudes, everything sang purpose or ordeal. From light fittings to telephone, all was either gilded or glazed, and declared itself as expensive, but serious. This, and the brocaded wallpaper almost made the place look like a smokers club or a parliament office.

It entirely reflected the man, torn between loyalty to understatement and the wild urges to extravagance, and even decadence. A struggle that she could relate to. They would be so happy together.

She went back to the task, and with a coaxing smile, she started to walk out, and he followed. Yes, he followed! It was hard to control her excitement.

Through the hall, and out of the flat everything had changed, and all was ready. The elegant landing and stairs had vanished, and in their place an austere and pillared room with a single arched door, ajar, and leading into darkness.

She headed through confidently, in part-attempt to allay his obvious hesitation. He walked up to the door and peered through, scrunching his eyes to see better. She tried to smile reassuringly as he hesitated, but chances were that he'd miss that subtlety. The thought even crossed her mind that all he might see of her now was a pair of glowing eyes and a row of shiny teeth which was not good. All the same, he obviously knew that there was no turning back now. He stepped through cautiously, breath held, body rigid, and with what looked like a jolt of notable surprise when firm ground was met.

When he reluctantly pulled his entire body through the door, it abruptly closed behind him, unaided, and for a moment they were in darkness. He audibly gasped as he disappeared from sight but when they both grew accustomed to the new light she could see that he was holding up, and even thought she saw welcome or relief in his eyes when they met hers.
Did he understand yet? Had he finally noticed how beautiful she was?

He had certainly not understood before, as she had carefully followed him through his daily routines. She was good at her task, and avoided detection for a good while, but as the time had drawn nearer it became a risk to leave him for too long, and then she had needed to be more daring.

First it was glares, as she snuck through the doors behind him, or waited across the street. Their eyes would meet and he'd go straight like a deer.

She'd always tried hard to control her movement, to hide her purpose. The thrill of the hunter, and the gushing forceful love for a pet were both inappropriate here, and she knew that. No one likes being pursued and even the bravest creatures get flighty when confronted with a purposeful gaze. This was a kind hunt, and it was loving eyes that watched him, but obviously it was the hunt that he saw, and nothing else.

He started breaking his routine and going more convoluted ways home, which ironically forced her to be even less subtle. If he was talking to someone, his conversation would trail off as his eyes met hers. For a while, he would sometimes try to point her out to other people around him, but she was always too fast. Of course they never saw her, and this exasperated him more.

He'd then tried to lose her by altogether staying away from home and his familiar haunts. As if that could achieve anything. She moved freer than he did, and wherever he went she would be there almost before him, of course.

Hotels, they were the worst. He'd hide alone in his room, or stalk around the public areas frightening staff or fellow guests with agitated gestures. Neither had the hospitality of kind friends offered him respite, and his new itchy disposition had rapidly wearied the closest of his companions. So sad to watch him turn on them and gradually craft them into strangers.

Even the police had been tried. They had taken him seriously at first, but no policeman's eye was subtler than her soft steps. To his great agitation their vigil had ended after a only couple of fruitless nights.

It was almost funny. If it wasn't tragic seeing his fear and collapse it would be funny. If it wasn't hurtful feeling his utter fear and hate directed at her it would be funny.

Towards the end, he tried to drink her away, to hide behind oblivion, and this was the worse. It was easier by far to keep track, but watching him snarl across cafes, or glare through his window at night down at her. He even threw things at her, like it would work.

It had been like that earlier tonight, him propped against his rain misted window glaring down through fogged eyes at her rain soaked form. Looking through her as men do when their minds are wrestling with toxins. He swayed and teetered but his eyes never left hers except when he supped. It was his collapse after the second bottle that had summoned her to his door.

What dark days, but it would be worth it now. As they moved through the darkness she noticed herself speeding up, and needed to consciously slow down. Maybe adjust her step, something more graceful.

They walked a short way before forms began to take shape around them, at first hazy like blobs of dim light through misted glass. Square windows emerged, and then window frames. Then more subtly the outlines of the buildings that housed them. It felt almost like the alley was being built around them as opposed to merely being unveiled by the light.

Reflections of light on the pavements and brickwork were emerging, suggesting rain. It was dark, dank, and wet. Victorian archetecture, not unlike the street they left, but rougher round the edges, more suggestive of a harbour or a maybe just a poorer area.

“Is this hell?” He asked, finally gathering the confidence to talk.

She turned and smiled at him, and he seemed to understand, as his face lifted a touch and he hastened his step.

“Are you the devil?” She ignored that.

“Where are we going?” He continued, almost sounding his usual self.

A perfect question, they were nearly there. She turned the corner and waited at the door to what looked like the door to a sailor's tavern from a story book. As he approached it opened, again with no agent, and he walked through.

“Here he is!” A voice from a table, and the coarse grind of a dragged chair, “Come on over!”.

All around were smiles, and before he knew it he was at a table with a drink in front of him. They were all strangers, but seemed to know him well, and immediately started grilling him with questions, jokes, and cajoles. It was a bit much, in the chaos the one consensus was that he should drink, and after that, another glass duly appeared filled with a red liquid within.

She sat beside him watched him as he drank and watched and listened. So intelligent, he talked first quietly and nervously, and then with more confidence. Soon there were roars of laughter and blazes of impassioned debate. He was in his element. She noticed him eyeing girls, and for a moment had a pang of doubt, but no he was hers and she was his. Besides, he was far too engrossed in his conversation, and indeed himself, to be drawn away.

Another doubt hit her mind, more doubt, but it was allayed when he turned to face her.
His eyes changed again, but this time they filled with warmth and love, he leaned towards her and without knowing why she rolled to lie on her back. He lay his hand on her chest and caressed her gently, his eyes showing perfectly that they were at least friends now.
This was good, and would help them through the next bit, which wouldn't be so fun. In time he would learn just how perfect, how wonderful she was for him. With her beside him, he would manage the rest.

They were quite literally made for each other.
They were together now, and they'd be happy forever. Happy enough. No arguments, no complex stuff.
He was hers and she was his.
His friend, his mentor, his carer, his destiny, his truth.
His black dog.

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t: 07407 345 880 | e: james@jamesflowerdew.com

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