We had it all planned. Meet at 2 for a drink then a meal before the theatre and the rest of Sunday would be ours. I walked to the pub, measuring each stride with a deliberately, langurous pace as if that would quieten the pulse of my anticipation. Parking nearby in Gray’s Inn, you were to join me there, and so would begin our getting to know one another all over again. Or that is how it always seemed, for our courtship was so erratic and disjointed that every meeting contained the thrill of the first, laced with a doom-laden last. Even the routine of greetings and farewells conveyed words that could not be taken lightly.
You with your packed diary and me slotted through the window of opportunity. And here now, gazing distractedly beyond the mullioned windows of the old tavern, sipping my drink through a straw just so as to keep pace with the trickle of time. Despite this ploy, the glass emptied and it was obvious that yet again you were late. No message on my mobile so perhaps there was nothing to worry about. I clenched my jaw and ground my teeth, gazing round with a lupine smile at convivial groups and intimates. Long ago, my pride had set a rule that I would wait no more than half an hour for anyone and yet here I still sat, on the promise of just that little while longer. That’s it! A ‘watch pot’ may never boil but a clock watcher eventually does and with sudden haste, I rose, making a clumsy exhibit of an exit. Quick strides down the alley, turning at right-angles through the archway and towards the quadrangle. Echoing through the hallowed Inns of Court, I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock.
“Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?“
Recalling Brooke’s nostalgic couplet made me smile so that as I walked towards you, the words of approbation vanished. Anyway you would have a ready prepared defence, some slippery reason why you were late and besides, it really did not matter now. Reciting backward through the poem, the far more telling and less innocuous lines resonated uncomfortably: “The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet.” Yes, oh yet, but foolish heart, I cannot yet forgo these meetings.
Daily Prompt: Write about anything you'd like. Somewhere in your post, include the sentence: "I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock."
Rubert Brooke: The Old Vicarage, Grantchester