Two In One Blow

Lana stared at the entry in her journal. This was no insignificant resolution of the usual kind. This was her only chance to carry on living.

I'm going to forget Raymond.
The words reflected the slight tremble her hand had given when she wrote them just five minutes previously. Her eyes reflected the images she was saying goodbye too forever.

Raymond had been a member of her French class for over two years. He wasn't exactly the best of students but he was only learning for fun. He was also the life and soul of most of the after class cocktails at the culture centre's bar. Lana had never really thought very much about him until the day she'd had that bust-up with Francis. In his rage he'd said things that made her feel useless, unwanted. He'd asked forgiveness the moment she'd returned home from class that night. But in the meantime there'd been the class, the drink, the smile. Raymond's eyes had fixed her own as that smile made its way across the table. It changed everything. Before long she found herself manouevering to be anywhere Raymond likely to turn up: the library, his local, the car park. He always seemed glad to see her and occasionally they walked a while together before going home. Occasionally, there were little surprises on her desk before class. Slowly but surely Lana's mind was turning towards him.

The rows with Francis were more frequent now. And they never seemed to find time to do things together. More and more Lana began to think about starting afresh with Raymond. The more she thought about this, the clearer her picture of life with him became. At first she wouldn't permit herself to believe in these dreams. The 18 year age difference between them made it impossible. Besides, she would never find the courage to brace the subject with him. Then came news that he was leaving. He confirmed this the next time they had met accidentally at the library. He was being promoted: head of overseas publishing. That's why he was leaving. Now, learning French had become a serious matter. He would be spending three months in Chartres before settling near Nantes. He would return only occasionally to Poole.

The crisis came the day Francis left for his the Hamburg trade fair. She'd really liked these gatherings and this year declined to accompany him this time. Indeed, they did very little together by now. Returning from the airport she found the letter from Raymond. It was the most beautiful thank you letter she'd ever received. He'd already left Poole; a flying visit to his family and then France. Now was the time to act. She opened a bottle of Jura Chardonnay: his favourite. She poured out two glasses and sat staring into the empty space opposite. An hour later the bottle was empty and Lana was frantically typing the words: 'A letter I'll never have the courage to send.'

Days of torment followed. How could she have been so stupid. A few brief clicks had sufficed to send the message on its way. All that remained was the despair at humiliating herself so and the hope that refused to die quietly. Francis returned five days later. She cared little but put on a show at matching his joy at being home again. During his absence she had been constantly connecting to check her mail. Today she had to wait until evening. Sure enough there was Raymond's reply.

She'd expected the disappointment to be overwhelming. Instead, she was elated. His letter had been so uplifting, so full of grace, she could scarcely believe it. All hope of a relationship was gone yet she felt loved and cherished as never before.

All this had happened just six weeks ago. She'd replied to his mail promising herself it would be the last time. But whenever she felt lonely, she'd find another excuse. Yet, she needed more than anything to be loved and Francis was still her best chance. Slowly but surely she came to realise that she was going to have to give up Raymond. That was why she'd splashed out on the holiday in the Swiss Alps. Three weeks solitude would give them the chance they so desperately needed. They'd be leaving the very next day. Francis had reciprocated: a New Year's Dinner tête à tête in one of the South's most exclusive restaurants. Right now, he'd gone to pick up the rented car they'd use to drive to the airport in the morning. She wrote the words slowly and deliberately. This was the last time she'd...

Lana heard voices outside, then the door to the flat opened.

"Darling I'm back. And guess what; I've found the answer to all our worries; someone to babysit our flat for us while we're away. Mr. Thompson used to work with us. He"s based in France now, but is back here every now and again and is looking for a small flat. I've promised him the studio as soon as it's finished but while we're away he can stay here."

Lana trembled as she took his hand. 'I just need to go and turn up the heating. Then I'll get us all a nice glass of wine.'

'Bang goes my New Year's resolution!' replied Raymond with a smile.


I am such a sucker for your stories Paul. It's good to see you back doing Fiction Friday again (I've been rather sporadic in my participation but hoping to contribute more this year!)

I love the double meaning (if I could spell french I'd put the french word there but alas I'm crap) at the end.

Had a certain pull for me because I remember a similar story from my own life and was gob smacked to discover the Raymond had the exact same surname.

Looking forward to reading more of our writing this year.

Happy New Year :)

2 January 2009 at 23:58  

My first visit from Fiction Friday. Ah, the conflicts of a woman's heart. What to do? I could feel her dilemma.

Happy New Year!

4 January 2009 at 17:10  

Oh, what a great build up, and what an ending! I really enjoyed this. And please don't hesitate to explore the challenges Lana is going to have once Raymond moves into the studio, I know I'll be interested to read what you're going to do to them all :D

6 January 2009 at 05:27  

Paul, how could you write such wonderful stories? do you design the plot first and then weave around?? or do you write it on the spot as it comes to your mind? I really would like to name you one among my favorite authors. Keep pleasing us with your beautiful narration.

6 January 2009 at 11:11  

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