Again, he looked out the frosted window as the train rattled eastwards. The villages in the distance over the gorse; smoke trailing, and the platforms of unused stations passing him by as strangers do. And it seemed to him that everyone was rushing away from something he didn't quite so much dislike; and towards something he didn't quite know.; to a blind date with destiny perhaps. But his rushing was a different kind of leaving .
The slanted rain was hitting the window; oblique drops gathered, shook, coalesced and slid along the window like tears; rattled and skewed across the pane.
The pylons rushing by along the track seemed like loose strings on an untuned guitar ; flitting away ;and the poles - like fret bars now ; and the train was running up the frets like in the blues , to the thudding beat of iron on steel .
He turned away from the hypnotic rhythm of the passing scenes.
He turned away as he did from so many things; just turned away. Usually just got drunk and when he looked again it was gone; or at least, that which he found least comfortable had abated for the present.
And that was how he treated everything, and thought it would be as easy as that, as all drunks do.
But the hypnotic swaying of the train and the passing pylons drew his vacant mind back to why and where he had to go.
She was there always; and he was running away now because he had said sorry just too many times and it had finally exhausted her.
That last night they sat together in his car outside her house. She gave no warning of what was coming; no hint at all; said nothing until they stopped the car and then in the gentlest way said
- Its over - I cant go on .I just cant take it , I'm worn out .
Her demeanour was composed but resolute and quite dumbfounded him.
And when he went to speak but she held up a gentle censorious hand. She hadn't finished
-I will always feel for you -more than anyone maybe; but its just got to me ; I could never marry you ; not because I don't love you ; I do. And well because - well so many things, and I really don't think you'll ever know why;
- Please don't try to talk me out of this ; I've worked up to this moment and it isn't easy. and well that's why I'm going away now .. And I don't want this to sound cruel but please -
She touched his arm and continued. And each word was so rehearsed and yet its delivery so soft like petals from her sweet mouth.
He'd sobered since she started and heard every word with all the feeling she could convey in that little responsible girls voice she could do so well - almost like praying
- I would appreciate if you didn't try to contact me now tomorrow, before I go ; and also ..I mean -and when I come back.
He sat there in silence. He could think of nothing to say. He was stunned. It was like hearing of a sudden bereavement. He tried to speak again, but she gently pursed her lips and made a kiss with her finger, then slowly got out of the car ,
- Don't look at me like that she said. And as she went to close the door.
- - We'll always be friends..
He sat there. And after some moments looked up and down the road almost as if to see if there was any witness; almost expecting some kind of clap of thunder from the night.
But the sky was clear and frosty, and his breath steamed up in his dazed stupidity.
For a while he sat there thinking this is some macabre joke. Listening for each sound thinking shed just come back and ask him in, and they'd kiss and make up, but he knew that she wouldn't.
He just sat there thinking of the many times he'd let her down, and how naïve he'd been to take it all for granted.
The many times he could have salvaged it. But no; she was determined to push it to the end; obvious now; inevitable perhaps.
She had stayed the distance; to a place where her patience could no longer bear the all the anguish he'd caused her - her love like a fishing line , had exceeded its breaking strain and snapped.
That long summer when the changing colours of cornfield beside the tennis club had turned from green to yellow and how he wished that summer would never end. Thinking each day; Is this it ; does it get any better than this ? Each day holding back his commitment; until.. When ? Wasn't she the one he wanted most ?.
How they made love in a park for the first time - it was her first time:, and it hurt her ; but when he asked she'd said it was
-'a nice kind of hurt '- then again later that night , in her house ; downstairs , to the sound of Bridge Over Troubled Waters, while her parents made those thumping noises on the ceiling , telling her it was past time for entertainment .
The pure smell of her body oozing from her after their lovemaking; that flowery dress she bought in Dunnes stores , and that scent she used - elusive - like an expensive ; soap not overwhelming like a perfume but something more subtle that blended with her body scent and lingered in the nostrils like the taste of softness if there were such a thing ;
Playing tennis with her in the Brothers field; bringing her shooting - all day in a duck hide on opening day in the calm September morning.
The train rattled onward; passing bogs and town lands. And the corn now cut and the fields in stubble. The crop harvested.
And he stared again out the windowpane and felt the whooshing of pylons and their hanging untuned strings.
And the guitar flitting up and down the fret board playing the last loneliness of his self-indulgent blues.