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        An Incomplete Life

He first saw the sun when it rose over the bell of a French horn.
Tuning up for school orchestra, she had attempted an F sharp.
The result put approximation to shame and resounded off wood-block floors.
She felt his levelled gaze and turned, and he beheld the dawn.
Embarrassment sent scattering by the humour in wrinkled eyes,
Her beaming face seared the lad who left by the awkward flappy doors.

Tuesdays and Thursdays he would go to see the back of her head,
To feel the infinite charm of that messy hair held up with an old HB,
To slide his trombone close, toying as the timpanis pounded, but never to touch.
Then there was the day when she said "Shall we go for a cup of tea?" She led.
That dismal cafe remains a beacon in his passing life.
To Aberdeen's stone academe she went.
How much did he miss her?

The telephone is a marvel, but it cannot compete
With the Martins and Davids who are actually there,
And the lad had no right to demand that they meet,
The lad had no right to demand that she care.

So he went to uni too, but not to Aberdeen,
Met Charlottes and Megans, danced to "Come on Eileen",
But the Megans and Charlottes all stood in the shade
Of the shadow that dawn over French horn had made.
His brain had been altered and now set in its ways.
Love was defined, love set in stone.
Love involved teas and HBs and those things alone
Oh - apart from heartache, frustration, and an unringing 'phone.

Winter set in. This one was to last
For the lad, then the man, mind nailed to the past.
He might glimpse the sun, perhaps once a year,
But he understood, had knowledge, not fear
That the shadow was with him, would be every hour,
And his life would be simple: bitter and sour.
He would plod through the tunnel, eat, sleep, and shit,
Bear in mind he was British, and show some true grit.
He harboured no hatred, they would always be friends.
She now lives with another, and this story now ends.


Tunnels have two ends, and both let in light.
For our hero, now ageing, remembers the night
His heart proved adaptive, could love more than one.
For there, in the library, shone a second sun.

Introduction was easy - she was reading his favourite book.
In short time, despite their whispers, they drew officious glowers,
And adjourned to the cafe for coffee
(Coffee? Can coffee work? Yes, coffee is fine).
It didn't matter a jot that she had a different look.
Their coffees went cold. They talked there for hours.
Finally - this was the one that he'd sought.
Soulmates exist! She even agreed with his rather unusual take on Dostoyevski.
She felt the same weird way!

"World," he thought, "I've made my choice. I want this one!"
Her hair wasn't messy - it was short and neat and perfect.
She wore glasses, and they were adorable.
But meetings in libraries, they weren't enough.
He'd waited too long, he wanted more of this stuff.
It was pleasant enough to give coffee a stir,
But dammit and blast it, he wanted HER.

The blaze of her light made his old shadow turn pale,
But he was now older, had no time left to fail.

"I'll be back in five months. We can carry on then."
"Oh yes? Going anywhere horrible?"
"Ha ha. Fossil-hunting trip to Kenya. My ex-boyfriend organised it ages ago."
"Ah. Might that prove awkward?"

Telephones are passť - now it's e-mail and better: Skype.
The images can freeze sometimes, but it doesn't do to gripe.
Late night long sessions of get-to-know-me chatter.
Should he keep it light? Is that right? Or cut to the heart of the matter?
The calls got rarer, then rarer still.
He began to get concerned.
Little news, then less, until,
After she returned...

Her smile was sympathetic, as the too-long pause did linger,
And his civil gaze dropped down to see the ring upon her finger.

His sun set over the train that left the station with the girl he couldn't win,
And he saw that he had his old shadow back, but now, he had its twin.


Before you imagine me on my way to some distant and precipitous spot, writing a note to be found some while later by dog walkers, please bear in mind that this story is made up. I wasn't in the school orchestra, drink neither tea nor coffee, had no old flame who went to Aberdeen University, have no pet theory on Dostoyevski, do not pick up women in libraries (apart from once), and don't know if there is even such a thing as a fossil-hunting trip to Kenya.


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