Sunday, 13 October 2013
A Life Wasted
A Life Wasted
Jane Evens gets out of her brand new Mercedes outside The Crown Pub in a quaint Village in Berkshire, her location, not his, and saunters over to the main entrance of the pub in her subtle Jimmy Chow boots. As she opens the heavy oak door she notices him immediately. The stranger she is here to see stands out, he is a figure of great strength, but looks uncomfortable in this ordinary setting, he is sitting too still, tension rising up and down his body. He has the posture of a man born for the military, Jane knows instantly that he can handle himself in a fight; and like James he shows his power through his presence. The stranger’s hair is so black that it is almost blue in the light from the fire, but sticks out in all angles. He looks up and her breath catches. For an instant she is teleported back all those years ago, when she met a man with the same eyes, eyes that had seen too much sorrow for a 25-year-old.
The stranger, whose name is Tony Ivers, stands with a grace born from a family bred to fight. Jane finally gathers up her composure walking forward with her head held high and her hand outstretched. He takes her hand, holding her gaze steadily; it’s a firm handshake, but she already knew it would be. As they sink down into the two old leather armchairs, she notices the gold band circling his left finger, but Jane doesn’t comment, she already knows.
“You wanted to see me, Mrs. Evens?” he says in a husky Irish tone. She notices the glimpse of diffiance in his eyes, and she knows that he doesn’t want her here. She nods firmly and with ease produces a set of papers from inside her briefcase. The stranger takes them and she looks away. She is not a woman comfortable with grief or sympathy. The fire crackles merrily in the grate, indifferent to the strained atmostsephere that encircles the two infront of it. The smell of winter clings to people’s clothing as they walk in; it will snow soon. This stranger reminds her too much of James, a painful feeling that she does not dwell on long. She notices, however, that Tony takes bad news like James did, he is far too still, but the angur and pain is hidden from her, by an unshakable emotionless mask. The news on the papers confirms the death of James Dylan Ivers, a man she thought she knew very well, a man who she loved dearly once upon a time.
“They didn’t inform you then?” she asks in a clipped tone. James had put her as his next of kin, a mistake in her eyes. Tony wouldn’t meet her gaze, but she could see that he was fighting to keep the emotionless mask intact. This man had taken James away from her all those years ago; he had the ring to prove it. However as she watched this man whose hands were shaking and stubbled jaw clenched too tight with grief, she knew she had to explain.
“I met James about fifteen years ago when I took a road trip down the West Coast of America. He was beautiful, the spitting image of what I imagine a storybook hero to look like. He was my own Clark Kent.”
Tony stiffened, and finally looked up. Jane could see that he had regained his mask, but anger flashed in those deep blue eyes. “I sped down the highway in my father’s old impala. I met him in a small town near Long Beach, Los Angeles. Do you remember James telling you about that place? You spent sometime in my house down there didn’t you?” Tony gave no answer but rage still simmered, and Jane felt grim satisfaction at this. “It was late so I went to visit the local bar down the road. It was nothing special just your average all American beach hut, but I feel in love with it instantly. The smell comes back to me when I least expect it, of sun, sea and beer on a hot day. His skin smelt like the sun didn’t it?” Jane asked, but suddenly felt a stab of guilt, she watched Tony’s mask slip as he recoiled from the memories she was thrusting at him. She realized what she was doing and almost apologized, but her pride stopped her with long lost pain that this man had caused.
“I think about that evening a lot since his death. I’d had too much to drink that night, but I remember the exact moment when I looked up and saw him stroll into the crowded bar.” Jane looks longingly out of the steamed up windows to the cold overcast sky. She remembers this part well, she replays it too herself when her husband hasn’t come home for over a week. Staying at work he says, but Jane knows he is in bed with that blond secutary.
“His eyes were bright blue, a color you couldn’t forget, it’s imprinted onto me and sometimes I catch it in the corner of my eye. Do you remember when he was angry his eyes would change to an almost violet color?” she stopped, looking up, and was please to see him give a slight nod.
“As he strolled over towards me with a grin that spelt danger I remember warmth flooding through me, it was obvious I had caught his attention. He had the same accent as you, but of course I’d never been to England then and I found it hard to place. Did you ever go and meet his family in Ireland?” Jane didn’t wait for a response. “I always wanted to know if they were as bad as he made them out to be.” She grins wickedly at Tony, who is almost shaking with rage, but Jane laughs without humor and continues.
“That night we slept together. And like I knew he would, he joined me on my journey. In all the time I knew James, he has never once explained himself. I remember he told me that he had time to kill, so we squeezed into the impala and kept driving.” Jane has been staring at Tony; just above the eyes, she can’t seem to bring herself to meet the furious gaze. The relationship she and James kept up all these years, with the flirtatious letters, was all one sided she knew. She had fallen in love with James from the moment she met him, but deep down she knew he was never hers. Jane Evens suddenly understands how cruel she was being to the man sitting opposite her, but for the last seven years he had everything she wanted.
“Did you love him?” Tony asks in a tone that is not far from livid. He had always despised Jane’s presence in his partner’s life. However she had tried, she really had. He would never know that she was the one to pick out that beloved golden band that was wrapped around his finger.
“I loved him and I think to some extent he loved me,” Tony growled, a low sound full of warning. Yet Jane put her hands up in mock surrender and laughed at his tone. “But I knew even then that we came from different worlds and different places. He had to go back to the military and I had to go back to the life of money and status. James was never going to be able to provide the life I needed.”
At this Jane felt a wave of grief that she was not expecting. She could have been James’. She could have been the wife to a man who would have adored her, even if it meant living in a house that was more shed than home. But it was too late now, it was time to leave, she had enraged Tony enough; he would want nothing more to do with her. Jane would be the bad taste in his mouth, which he would soon forget.
Mrs. Evens never left a door in her life open, and this one had been swinging wide for too long. Yet her story wasn’t here; the chapter had been closed a long time ago. She belonged back in London, in her house that cost more than this entire village, in an area that had devoted itself on appearances. She gathered up her handbag, said a final goodbye, which in his rage Tony barley acknowledged, and walked out of the old pub door. Jane gave a final glace over her shoulder, and then, strolled into the falling snow.