Not George Michael again. I can’t stand this tune. Still, got to admit, he could hold a note or two. The two of us loved the tune back then. I remember how we ‘bumped’ into each other.
It makes me cringe when I think back to my first words to her.
‘Sorry, darling, but I was so stunned by your drop-dead gorgeous looks I never noticed the puddle on the floor.’
It’s true. I used those words. Nat took the piss out of me many times after that. Corny worked though.
George was crooning when she agreed to go out with me. Hearing him sing takes me back to November 12th, 1986. The onset of our initial introduction, the exterior of a dirty burger bar.
The usual followed, wining, dining, love, movies, drinking and love, lots of love. Eighteen months passed. We discussed the ‘M’ word.
We conquered the registry office not long after. After our honeymoon, two were to become three.
Damn memories. I’ll pay her a visit. I remember when she left me. I vowed there’d be no going back.
Who am I kidding? I won’t rest. I flicked the mobile and dialed.
‘Hi Sylvie. Listen, I need to get in touch with Nat.’
‘I did have other things planned tonight Harry. Can we leave it until tomorrow?’
No point arguing. She’s my only hope these days.
‘Oh sod it, just this once Harry. What time do you want to call round?’
‘How about eight?’
I don’t know what I’d do without Sylvia. I’ve known her since we were kids. She’s been my rock through the separation.
‘Sure. Do you want me to fix you some grub?’
‘Don’t put yourself out, Sylv.’
‘Oh, don’t worry about that.’
We say our farewells. I imagine Nat and me together in the same room. A tear betrays old love. Why did George have to come on again?
Ten to eight. I stare at the Georgian front of Sylvia’s place on 14 Grange Street. My finger stabs the doorbell. I hear footsteps hurry to the tune of Colonel Bogie.
‘Harry, come in. There‘s plenty of food. So go and help yourself.’
We embrace. My jacket’s liberated. She escorts me to the dining room.
I hoped for a few sandwiches. Instead, a delicious cremated steak in rich creamy sauce is my reward. The rhubarb crumble is a perfect follow up. My nerves dance on razor wire toes.
She retreats to the back of the house. I clear my throat, right now a brandy’d be grand.
‘We’re all set, Harry.’
I step into Sylvia‘s special room. My breath mists when I exhale. I pull my jumper tight.
Our first meetings since the split cut me up bad. We learnt how to communicate without upsetting each other too much over the years though.
We had it all. Then Andrew Calvin careered into our lives.
Fast red metal: the last memory Natalie and our unborn Amy saw on this Earth. He lost control when she stepped onto the zebra crossing on Crompton Road.
No chance. Our partnership died for the bounty of a couple of beers, some client and a few grand. Calvin received a six month ban. Some justice.
Sylvie found Natalie in despair. She stopped me from following Natalie to oblivion. The gift she presented transcended suicide.
I could never see Nat. I could feel her, though. The scent of Chanel, plans for the future, her wonderful soul all came back. I gorged myself on forbidden memories.
Tears always came. Not for Nat though. Her future an interminable chill. Her smoky fingers would caress my cheeks and witness my aging years. She’d never grow old of course.
Sylvie locks fingers with me.
‘Natalie, one who loves you very much calls for you. Are you here, sweetheart?’
We feel the cold around our shoulders gather strength.
‘Harry wants you to know he is fine and thinks of you all the time. He heard your song today.’
Sylive’s voice fades. Her face glazes over. Nat tries to speak.
Nat’s visage struggles through. Her phantom cheeks are streamed with cloudy tears. The smell of incense is joined by an aroma of Jasmine and Lavender. Sylvie sways, Nat’s presence gatecrashes her thoughts.
‘Sylv, please tell Harry to move on. I want to head for that light you told me about. I don‘t want to be cold anymore.’
I inhale, hard.
‘Don’t go, Nat.’
My voice cracks. I cannot bear losing her again.
‘Harry, don’t keep me here.’
Sylvie nods in solemn piety. My selfish heart kidnapped by despair.
I must be strong. I must let her go.
‘Goodbye, Nat. I love you so much.’
I am captive to a tremendous feeling of warmth of love and calm for the tiniest of moments. The table trembles and the energy fades. I don’t bother to dry my eyes.