A Tale of Romance

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

A Tale of Romance is a traditional story of romance, yet a new take on the Troubadours. Really, it is boy meets girl, but with one or two twists. A wonderful love story. And one that might have a
happy ending. The reader will see if they do live happily ever after or they don’t. They might.

Submitted: November 22, 2017

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Submitted: November 22, 2017



She was pleasant and listened attentively and he felt they had chatted well with him telling her all his nonsense. Not that he thought it was nonsense. It was what he was. He liked thinking about these things and he liked talking about these things. Anyone deserved to have someone listen to him or her. He wanted a girlfriend and women were after all half the population, so why shouldn't there be someone for him. Anyone could find the kind of things he talked about interesting because he did.

So if anyone could find these things interesting, girls might as well. He felt a little uneasy because someone had told him that girls really were not interested. So he had his doubts. And he felt confused. Usually, though, he tried to get along without thinking too much. He could find someone and he didn't have to change. The easiest way to find a girl was for someone to take him as she found him. He wanted a girl to accept him with all his faults and not mind them. If she didn't scold and was just a bit accepting, then she might like him. She should let him talk all he liked and about all he liked. And then she would still like to hear more. Nor did he see such an attitude as wrong. Wanting something is not a science, as you just want what you do but don't really know what it is that you do want. And the thing you want is often just to have any girlfriend.

Mainly he talked about current affairs. Often these conversations would end with him getting everything as right as it could be. Or at least he got things right as near as you could get them right when only talking about them. Women might like this quality. After all, anyone wanted to know what was wrong with the world. And anyone wanted to know why things were as they were. He was thinking this in a café one day as a gaggle of girls was laughing and joking.

They looked over at him. And when they were leaving, one from their group came over to him and she touched him on the shoulder.

She said, "We women would really like to know about the world. As well, we would like to know about a man's world we don't understand. But we don't read the same newspapers and hear about all the kinds of things you have to say. So we'll just have to hear it all another day perhaps! I don't know though if we will. But we might!"

He had mixed feelings. His first reaction was to feel angry. But next, that he hadn't realized all the things they had talked about. And he felt that he had perhaps to learn his lessons in whatever ways they came to him. This was so he might learn them at all when they needed learning. She had been nice to him really. And as she had told him things he wanted to know, he shouldn't feel anger. For a few days, he thought about it. She was right, of course. But then he bought a newspaper as he thought that what she had said didn't mean he couldn't buy one. Also, he remembered someone who told him that women probably didn't know what he said when he talked for so long about current affairs. But why weren't they interested when they didn't know? It was all confusing. However, this woman had told him that they did know. Also, he would have to go without knowing 'what was what' about everything if he did not know it all now. And it would take time to learn about all the things that he might like to know about. As well, he could not change completely just from one meeting or from only one piece of advice. So he wouldn't and instead would carry on almost exactly as he had done. But he would have more conviction about some things and more doubts about other things.

He loved going to the shop to buy the newspapers, as he loved all the news, gossip, scientific discoveries, interesting facts and exposés. Also, he loved all the writing in the best tradition of press freedom that checked the excesses of government. And he liked that newspapers reported from across the Globe the massive changes there were in shifts of power as well as reporting all the political posturing. And he could read it all, the work of thousands of journalists, up-to-date, well written and an effort to write. They knew how to write interestingly and well about the news. They called them 'newspapers' as they had new things every day. Some of it was right up-to-date and some of it was old news. But when he looked the next time to see how much old news there was, most seemed new. He would pick up a weighty newspaper and start reading. At times, he would often think he could not possibly read so many pages. Also, he remembered what he had heard about more pages being possible because of new technology and that more pages sold more newspapers. He didn't often read all the newspaper, but sometimes did try to read it all. Or he made a point of reading articles that he would not normally have read. But then he would go back to only skimming it and reading whatever grabbed his attention.

She talked about visiting art exhibitions. And he remembered someone had invited him to an exhibition as well. Then he talked about everything he knew about art. And he felt surprised to find he could talk for so long and knew so many things about it. But he felt a bit of a cheat, as so haphazard had been his learning. Someone must have mentioned art at some time and there had been controversy about it in the newspapers. He knew a bit about art controversies she mentioned, such as the controversy over whether art had died because of the new photographic medium. Another controversy was whether abstract paintings were hard to paint. They got on well. And she did not, whether she suspected he did or did not really know about art, say anything about his conversation on it. Perhaps she might feel it was a joke they were sharing. The joke was for him to talk about the bits and pieces that he knew about art when he didn't really know much about it. However, if this was a joke, they had kept it up for a long time. Changing the tone a bit, she told him that she was an artist. Jim thought that she might be an artist, but that she did not take her subject seriously all the time. Perhaps she was an artist or she was only saying that as her kind of thing. By the end of the date, he felt he could give her a kiss.

The next time they met, she told him she was indeed an artist. However, she had been away from painting for a time and now hoped to start painting again. She didn't have any paintings she had done to show him, but said he would see some soon when she had done more. They talked about art a bit more, but he had said all he knew already. Instead, he talked about all the kinds of things he liked to say usually. These included current affairs, non-fiction and the most mundane things about his life. She listened and then they parted happily at the end of their date.

For some reason, he began worrying. He worried about stress because he felt he really should change the world. But he didn't see how he could do this by reading a newspaper. Yet the world was full of bad things such as poverty, ill health and war. And any right-thinking person would want to change these. When he met friends, they often said nothing back to him and so he began to feel he was overusing his voice talking all the time himself and now worried about this. As well, he worried about his health more generally. But sometimes when he went out for a walk in the morning to buy a newspaper, he told himself it was at least good exercise. He felt the fresh air fill his lungs and he felt the blood flow a bit faster in his veins. And it was relaxing to look at the trees he passed or look around. The world felt right when he carried the newspaper back under his arm and felt the weight of writing. And it still felt right when he read the newspaper in his house on the kitchen table with the sun pouring through his kitchen windows. As well, it felt right when he could hear the sound of birds singing from the gardens at the back of his house and the sound of traffic from the front. However, sometimes he felt his experience of reading the newspapers was not such a good one. Sometimes, he could often not remember what he had read in the newspapers even on the same day. And often when he talked about the news, he could sometimes see that it was old news. It really had happened a few years ago. But nobody had done anything about it even if someone had tried. They had not succeeded and the government had its way. Yet now years later, he was talking about it as though it was yesterday. Or he was thinking that something might still be done about it.

He went round to his girlfriend's house and took a newspaper to read on the bus. Perhaps, when he had just read it, he could remember it. He came in with the newspaper under his arm and she cooked the dinner for him in the kitchen. While she did this, he read the newspaper. Her lounge had her ornaments, books, old CDs and DVDs in boxes and all her life. This was another life and someone who was a real person. He felt bad to read a newspaper, but put these thoughts from his mind. Instead, he thought that newspapers were, as someone had told him once now too far back to remember, a decent and normal thing to do. Yet he could feel that the news was always rare and unusual events and not everyone's lives as they lived them every day. And it was always the worst news. She came and collected him for the meal. As they ate the meal, he ran through a few headlines and she nodded. After a while, they ate in silence.

"Finished?" she said, referring to his plate.

She took his empty plate to the sink and got some dessert. After that, they let the good food go down into their stomachs. She played a video on the TV in the corner of her living room as they sat together on the sofa. A tired dreamy state came over them and permeated the room. When they woke up a bit, she leaned over and touched his shoulder telling him that it was time to leave.

He had talked at work about current affairs. But he heard his co-workers arguing about it.

"My father was just like that," a female co-worker said. "He had political books on a bookcase in the living area that took up a whole wall. And this was where we watched TV every evening. Yet he never changed anything his whole life."

Jim felt deflated. So he was not the first. Good women had stuck by their man. Someone like him had married and had daughters as well as a wife who loved him. And this was despite what he talked about, what he read and how he occupied his time with politics. Also, he had taken his daughters to the park and other things, as that is what you did as a family. He had done things Jim had yet to do. It made him feel someone had already done it all and as successfully as it was possible to do something like that. Jim could see that nobody had a unique life. And nor did anybody have a unique take on the world. And nor did anyone have a unique take on living life, or anything else. Nor did Jim have any unique take on anything. He saw this now but he spoke to some friends about the news as he felt he still wanted some answers.

"Can't you change things?" he said. "Isn't it true if thinking people get together they can change things for the better?"

"Changing the world is the worst thing you can do. It causes a lot of heartache. Try to think what you can change and what you can't change. That's all I can say to you."

He met another friend.

Jim said after he had spoken at length about something in the news, "Isn't this something you should be interested in? Aren't politicians wrong?"

"Wrong about what?" she said, pulling a face and laughing.

He said something he thought that was wrong. You can't believe everything you read in the newspapers was all she said. He had at times gone to the bookshop to look for political books but had not found the ones he wanted. But one time, he did find what he was looking for. It was a book on political ideologies. He read it in a day. And it reduced many, if not all his worries about politics. Eventually, he felt after reflecting for some weeks, that politicians had made a hash of running the country and of the world. Then he thought that they probably didn't see it as they enjoyed debate and other things politicians did. And that was the reason they were politicians. This theory, he briefly thought, explained everything. But perhaps there was more than one political theory. All of this gave him mixed feelings. Of course, it should not be so easy to understand that it was not worth thinking about. But nor should it be so complicated he could not know much about it at all. Now when he thought this, it didn't feel good. Someone told him he could live in a house with a TV, a refrigerator and all mod cons. Also, he could go out of his house for long walks. And he had enough money to go shopping. So politicians had done something right. And whatever he felt they had done wrong, it seemed that they had done nothing to him. Even if he thought the world was going to end, it wasn't going to end yet. Nor would it end in his lifetime. A politician interviewed on TV said all politicians were old gasbags. They talked to keep people happy but couldn't fundamentally change politics. Talking was a service they did. It was their job. And they did it well. Peace and prosperity was the result of talking about problems and not fighting about them. He felt he had made mistakes in reading for so long to find out something so simple. But now he worried he had to think quite hard what these mistakes were. Maybe his health had worsened by all this worry.

The years he had spent reading newsprint had been unhealthy and he'd read thousands of column-inches when he could have read some books instead. And fundamentally, his friend was wrong to tell him to think of how he could change the world or how he could not change it. He could change nothing and that is what his friend should have told him to start with. It would have saved some time worrying. Now he thought about it, the TV news was better.

"You must know what is going on in the world," scorned an acquaintance. "There's nothing wrong with getting the news. You really are worrying needlessly."

Perhaps the solution was to watch only the TV news to save time. He watched. And then to understand what they had said better, he watched other political news shows as well. He told his girlfriend what had gone on for him and any changes he had made in his life. And he told her a few other things as well.

His girlfriend took in a deep breath and she said, "I don't want to see you again. I really don't want to talk about politics again. I want something different."

So for now, he didn't have a girlfriend and he went back to his house disconsolate. He looked at his books and saw that they were all to do with politics in some way or another. Then he lay on his bed looking at the shadows of clouds pass by on his walls until the autumn evening draw in and the walls became gray and dark. By the time that he had drawn the curtains, he had thought of what he wanted to change in his life.

Getting a few art books, he took them home and read them. They were a joy to read. And he thought on this dreary evening that this was something he had always wanted to do. The dreary evening had dull skies outside his apartment. Inside, a slight draft would go in an hour or two. Also, there was the sound of someone in another kitchen on the floor above him. Then he called his ex-girlfriend and told her the changes he had made and they arranged to meet again.

He talked about this and that as she sat next to him and occasionally she looked up at him with some feeling. Yet now he felt he should talk about art. When they first met, they had indeed chatted about art as he remembered. And he thought through what they'd said and it seemed they'd covered a lot. But he hadn't thought they had done so when he had considered it before now.

One evening he put down his book as now he had some knowledge about art. Also, he was much less worried about politics. It bemused him to think that he had not read a newspaper or watched any TV news for months. Nor did he know what was going on in the political world. Or rather, he had seen a few headlines on the newsstands that told him some things that had happened recently. But he knew no more than that. And when he had said that he didn't know anything that was going on, the only thing anyone said back to him who said anything at all, was just the headlines he had seen.

He had understood the political system as much as he could and now it was time to stop taking any more interest in it. The only way he could talk a bit better was to do something else with his time instead of reading newspapers. Then he could talk about his new interests as he always talked about anything he had done. He had made changes to his life to take an interest in art and not worry about politics. As well, he had come a long way to study politics enough he understood it a bit better. Many were the days that he had gone online. And many days he had written political essays drawing together things he had read at some time or another. But he began to feel he might be going downhill. Often he felt like doing nothing as already he had read about most of the art movements and artists that interested him. He did not know what more things he could read. Really, it did not seem like such a big subject. Also, he thought he might lie on his bed and not get up. Perhaps, though, he could take an interest in literature as well as the visual arts. But that left him feeling he was starting the same thing all over again. And he would find that even if he added to his knowledge or doubled it, he would still have achieved nothing.

He picked up the phone and called his girlfriend.

When he got to her house, he talked about art as much as he could and he found that talking to her made him feel interested in art all over again. As well, he found it was like old times and he could not remember how it was different. Sometimes, though, he felt they had talked about feelings better when they had talked about non-fiction instead of art or literature. So what he talked about before couldn't have been so bad. They dated for some more months and then for the best part of a year. And then they dated for another year. He had read again the art books he'd already read as they gave him more to say from new readings. And he started reading other things and talked about these books as well. Their romance changed and blossomed, they found new things to do together and he began to love her dearly. Then one day she felt irritated and showed him some paintings she had done.

"I told you I really was an artist," she said. "You should believe things I tell you."

The pictures were pleasant but not terribly good. Then a year passed and then another year.

"Have you done any more paintings?" he said, thinking of something to say to her.

"Yes, here."

He looked at the paintings. They were on canvas and not on paper like the earlier ones.

After he had looked for some time, he said a trifle enthusiastically, "These are really good."

She shook her head, "Put them down without damaging them."

"I told you I was an artist and getting back into doing art. Of course, they're good."

"By the way," she added. "I've met new people. They are other artists, art dealers and people like that. So I might not see you for much longer if my artistic career takes off. In fact, it's best we say good-bye now. I'll give you a picture so you can remember me by though. Come into my studio next door."

He picked a picture and she went to the door with him to say good-bye.

"Can I call you sometime?"

"Perhaps you can. Yes, we'll catch up. We might. Call me in a year."

He left and went out into the sultry summer evening, which had the smell of damp grass coming from her front garden. This was her front garden that she mowed, but never gardened otherwise. And he went home.

He met an attractive woman when he was out who gave him a come-on look.

"Hi," he said. "I'm an artist. No, I'm not really an artist but I like art."

She laughed.

"What have you painted?"

"Oh, a few things," he said, remembering some of his efforts he had made to try to understand art better.

He felt all right to talk like this as having himself got the creative bug he understood art a bit better than he might have done otherwise. Also, he talked about some of his paintings with her, after which they made a date. When they had dated some time, she said she loved the time she had with him. Perhaps he had changed. But he could not say how he had, as he did not know. Nothing felt different. Maybe, though, talking about art did make you different. As well, he was someone who didn't know about politics. Anyway, he felt he had forgotten most of it, if not all of it. Nor did he want to talk about it because he felt he shouldn't. And he didn't have time for it as he had other things now as well that he wanted to do. So he had done nothing to get the news. And that might have been a change in his life and not just his conversation.

The day was too short to do everything he could think of doing. And he rarely found time for everything. Now he realized that he didn't have such a long memory. Nor could he talk about something he hadn't done recently. As well, when it was new, that was a good reason for him to take an interest in it. Or he would pay more attention to it just because it was new. It began raining heavily and he looked at the rain falling down the windowpane. Outside and through the running drips of rain, he saw the view from his window as if for the first time in a long time. Several hours passed like this as he sat looking at the windowpane in silence. And now he could hear birdsong coming from the gardens at the back of his house.

For some time now, he had wanted something more to do and to think about. And he no longer wanted to take such an interest in politics. Now talking about those old things was in the past.

Today he had found something so much better.


© Copyright 2019 Earnest Long. All rights reserved.

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