chapter 1Beverley was the love of my life. I'd known her since our school days. We lived two streets away. I played with her brothers and she played with my sisters. Sometimes we'd all get together and play. We got on the same school bus, but we were in different classes. We attended the same summer clubs, but did different things.
When we got older, we went our separate ways. She went away to university, while I stayed at home, got a job in an office and studied business in the evenings.
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I thought working in an office doing something or other was better than sitting at home on the dole.
I had girlfriends. Nothing very serious, but I was not sure what I wanted in a relationship either.
Three years later, I came across Beverley again at the bus stop. I was heading in to town for work, but I was running late, missed the bus and I was forced to get a later one. Beverley was headed into town to do a spot of shopping.
She looked stunning! Her naturally wavy white blonde hair had darkened to a more mature tone and she'd had it cut into a more sophisticated bob. She wore the type of barely there make up that enhanced her natural features, but cunningly hid her flaws.
She was much taller than I remembered her. She'd lost all of her 'puppy fat'. I was no expert on ladies' fashions, but, I liked her short skirt and thick tights with a fitted jacket.
At first I was not going to speak. I did not look my best that morning. My shoes were scuffed. I'd had to tie the laces into a knot after they'd snapped one day. I'd been rushing around and felt too warm and crumpled. It was not a day for impressing the ladies.
She recognised me as soon as she saw me. She welcomed me with a hug. I hoped she did not see where I had cut myself shaving that morning. At least I'd remembered to brush my teeth!
She told me about university. She'd been to the Southampton where she had studied the history of art.
If that was meant to impress me, it didn't. What use was a degree in art history? How the hell was that going to get her a job in a competitive jobs market? Was she after a job in a museum or art gallery?
I told her what had happened to a few mutual acquaintances. Dave had got married, Susan had twins. Margaret had emigrated to Australia with her fianc�. John was working for a printing firm, but was training for those body building competitions.
We sat in the bus together and chatted some more. They'd pulled down the old cinema we'd known so well. They'd built a housing estate on the fields where we used to play.
We exchanged telephone numbers as we crossed the bridge into the city. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but later, when I was sitting at my desk in the office, I could not get her out of my mind. I could not close my eyes without seeing her hook her hair behind her ears.
I could hardly wait until work was over and I could ring her. By then, my heart was fluttering at the sound of her voice. My body was excited in other areas too. I had fallen in love.
I thought she loved me too. That is why we were married within six months of meeting up again. We already knew each other, we had a head start, didn't we? We didn't need a long engagement.
The thing is, when I was with her, I always felt I was in her shadow. Looking immaculate every day took no apparaent effort on her part. Looking vaguely respectable, when it came to me, took a lot of time and effort. There was always something wrong. My shirt might be a bit too crumpled, my tie would refuse to lie straight. Even with Beverley around to he,p me dress appropriately for the occasion, I still could not look as good as her. Perhaps it was because I had never lost that thin layer of 'puppy fat' that I had acquired as a young teenager. I ought to take more exersise, I knew that. I simply never got round to doing it. I came in from work and got into the habit of falling asleep after dinner. By the time I woke up, it was dark and too late to think about going to the gym or even just a walk around the village. I'd get absorbed by something on the telly, or distracted by something minor in the house that needed fixing.
It was not like I had a huge appetite. I thought I ate healthily enough. I ate too much on special occasions, but that was what treats were for, isn't it?
On the other hand, Beverley found exersise easy and it slotted into her daily routine. She would go for a run at lunchtime. On occasion she'd run to work, have a shower and get changed there, then run home again before dinner.
She used her degree to work as a graduate in hospitality. She entered at junior management level and was soon running the reception department. She oversaw the shift patterns, checked time sheets, oversaw training and discipline. She had ambitions to ascend higher in the management structure.
We'd bought a little stone built cottage in a village near to where we grew up. The front door led straight off the street, it was a typical two up two down house, with an extension built at the back for a bathroom. Outside there was a yard surrounded by a wall and a back lane. But also, the back of the house had fabulous views over the fields and overlooked the rest of the town below.
It wasn't much, but it was enough for the two of us. We shared a small family car, that I used most days to get to work, instead of getting the bus.
We were doing all right.
15 chapters, created 5 years , updated 5 years
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