I've been told that I don't produce enough happy endings. So...
THE HAPPY ENDING
It was a brash night. A bitter, howling monster of a night, and Pedro paused on the corner of the lane that led past Mavis's house.
“I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be doing this,” he muttered, and the wind, a monster that had come from nowhere it seemed, whipped his words away and tore them to shreds.
He struggled on, rounding the corner and sighing as he glimpsed, through the acerbic wind-torn night, the gentle amber of lights from her bedroom window.
“She's there, though,” he sighed, “she's there, in her nightie, the little white and lacy nightie of hers, the one she hangs on her line in the sun, all snuggled up in her bed, all warm and reading that book of hers, the one she reads every night.”
He shivered with fear and the cold.
“Dared I?” he asked himself. “She'll not be expecting me. She's there, on her own … is she on her own or has some other swine wheedled his way into her bedroom? Is she lying there, even as I stand here and worry, in the arms of another? Is that what it's come to? That I should have been so close to her, and yet lost … everything...?”
The wind grabbed the broken branch of a tree and whipped it past his ears, narrowly missing his head and his brain.
That would have hurt, he underestimated.
The light in the bedroom went out. Suddenly. One instant it was amber and soft and beckoning, the next it was black.
“What might she be doing, now, with no light on?” he asked himself, knowing he was tormenting himself, but unable to stop it. “Is that other bloke in there, naked in her bed, maybe, arms round her, words in her ears, come to me, Mavis, I need you, I'm here for you whilst the bastard Pedro isn't... he's out there in the cold and the wind, Mavis, and I'm in your bed, big and strong for you, full of promise for you whilst he's shrivelled in the bitter cold … Mavis, let's make love...”
Pedro stamped his feet, both of the, angrily. The movement helped his temper and his circulation.
A howling, biting, clinging blast of wind slid into him from nowhere, scattered the debris of the wild forest on him like confetti on an awkward bride, dragged him almost off his feet. Almost, but not quite.
“And I'm out here,” he muttered, “out in the cold, and I love Mavis. I love everything about her. I always have. Yet she hasn't even acknowledged that I exist! We live in the same world, we went to the same school, we worship the same idol … and I might be no more substantial than a shadow, all the notice she takes of me.”
It was true, of course. Painfully, he'd seen it. Mavis always ignored Pedro. She ignored him because, to her, he wasn't there. He never had been. She had enough worshippers not to need invisible men in her retinue. Pedro knew that. of course he did! He had eyes, didn't he? And those eyes saw the way things were, didn't they?
She would walk past him on the street, going here or there, jaunty, happy, singing, smiling, sometimes laughing, her tiny cotton dress not leaving much to the imagination, her perfect figure barely protected from prying eyes by its fragile fabric.
His prying eyes.
Oh yes, he knew better, of course he did, his parents had taught him manners, hadn't they? But his eyes did pry where Mavis was concerned.
Another gust of wind slammed into him, and he forgot prying for a moment as he found himself sprawled on the dusty ground with a mouth full of dead leaves and a bump on his head.
“Ouch!” he shouted.
There is a moment in every storm when a moment's silence separates two mighty, noisy events, and that moment's silence occurred as he shouted his monosyllabic declaration of pain.
“Ouch!” echoed down the lane and into the brick and stone walls of Mavis's little house.
A trail of blood was running down his face when he stood up. He could feel it, sticky and warm, when he rubbed it with a finger.
“Who's out there?” called a voice from the cottage. From Mavis's cottage. From her wonderful sanctum.
He couldn't answer. Not with blood on his cheek. Not with the storm's debris in his hair, his clothes, even inside his shoes. He just stood there.
“Go away,” he begged her, silently, “Go away, Mavis, you never notice me and if you were to just spot me for the first time I don't want it to be with me looking like this...”
But he did look like that.
And Mavis saw him.
Braving the worst of the weather she ducked and dived up to him.
“Pedro? Is that you, Pedro?” she asked.
He daren't say “yes” and he couldn't say “no”.
“Thank goodness it's you, Pedro,” she whispered, and he heard despite the worst efforts of the wind to steal her precious voice from him.
“You poor boy, you're bleeding,” she continued. “Come with me, I've got bandages and ointment and stuff like that. I'll mend you and then, when the storm's died down, you can carry on your way...”
He spluttered. “You want me...?” he asked.
She looked at him through those big eyes, the ones he'd worshipped for so long.
“I know I'm not your sort,” she said above the wind, “and I know you can never even begin to like me, Pedro, you never notice me even when I wear my naughtiest clothes! But this once I think you need some help.
“You... you want me...?” he repeated, lost for any words but those.
“I'm sorry, Pedro … I shouldn't presume...” she said, sadly. “I'll go. I'm sorry you're hurt. I only want to help you...”
“But...!” he found himself shouting as she turned to go.
She smiled awkwardly at him. “But?” she asked.
“But … Mavis...”
“Yes, that's my name.”
“Don't you know...?”
“Don't I know?”
“Mavis … all these years … I love you! I always have! For ever!”
She looked at him and smiled a great big broad smile.
“Well I never,” she said.
© Peter Rogerson 22.11.13