In five years’ time when he’s standing at the front of a church he’s never set foot in before, waiting for the vicar to nod at the organ player to begin the opening bars of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, he will be thinking of her.
But she won’t be the one about to walk through those heavy oak doors.
In eight years’ time, when he’s standing at the ‘tidy end’ of the hospital bed and his first born’s body slithers out between the splayed and shaking legs of his wife after she’s screamed obscenities he’s never heard her use before, he will hear a soft voice at the back of his mind telling him that everything will work out for the best. That if things are meant to be, then they will be.
In fifteen years’ time when he’s curled up against the rubber wheel of a four-by-four in a street younger than his third child, his head pounding in time with his heart and vomit pooled around mud-spattered boots, he will see the light of her smile as she tells him he can’t hold his drink any more than he can hold a decent tune. Their drunken laughter is infectious, joyous, like the fairground music of that merry-go-round they’d sat beside.
In nineteen years’ time, when he reads the list of reasons he can’t be a husband anymore, and the dates of contact he’s permitted to see his four children, he will feel the stab of failure almost as acutely as he felt the piercing helplessness seeing her packed bags the night they said goodbye.
In twenty-three years’ time he will be walking through the same square in Paris and he will look for the café and the fairground and the scooters and the laughter soaking the golden stones of the buildings, and he will see the table.
He will see a couple sitting at the table; their hands clasped across the surface of it and their eyes locked. He will want to go to them and tell them to stay. Or to go. But to do these things together. He will want to tell them to forget promises they may have made to other people and to trust and have faith in the way they are both feeling now. Right now. Or they might spend the rest of their lives with only memories and regrets.
written for the www.creativewritingink prompt of 23rd March, 2017