Father Cameron was getting impatient; he had other matters to attend to and this service was already running late: What on earth was the groom thinking? He tried to suppress a simmering glower but failed; staring directly at the reluctant groom his eyes said WEEELLL….
Rooted to the spot, Daniels’ life was flashing before his eyes; he saw the rest of his life stretching out in front of him like an endless torment. Sure he loved her but THIS WAS IT. She was going to be his one and only; no more wild parties, ending up in a strange bed. Looking into her hazel eyes, his lip quivering, he could feel the tears welling in his own watery blue eyes. He started weeping as he broke hands and ran back down the aisle.
Everything was a blur of colour and sound as he exited the church. He didn’t know where he was going to go or what he was going to do. Getting as far away from here as he could was as much as his muddled mind could manage in the planning department.
He stumbled along the street and found himself a taxi. Fumbling the door handle he got in:
“Where to mate?”
The taxi drivers gruff northern accent penetrated his head-fog a little. THINK DAMMIT
“Er , the Edworthy Arms I guess.”
It was the other side of town and he hadn’t been there in ages. Nobody would think to look for him there. Travelling across town Daniel was lost in his thoughts. The memory of her eyes pleading with him to continue and commit were burned into his minds eye. Nothing he could do would erase that image. It would haunt him forever and he knew it. Trying to focus he ran through some logical justifications for what he did:
It had been a whirlwind romance. They were young; they didn’t know what they were doing. He was perfectly right to do what he did, she would see that someday. Excusing his own insecurities with various rationales made him feel a little better. He would worry about what to tell everybody else tomorrow. The night was still very young and he was going to have fun.
The Edworthy Arms was busy. Daniel could just about make out the bar buried under a mass of people. It was early so he would start with pints and build-up to shots. Moving away from the crowd he watched at first before plunging in and making merry.
Staring blankly at the contents of his own stomach Daniel felt groggy. He staggered back to the bar. It was near closing time and the crowd had thinned considerably. Sitting at the bar was an old man. Daniel seemingly took forever to haul himself up onto a bar stool a little away from the old man:
“What are you doing with your life?”
Adjusting himself to try and find a comfortable and secure position to perch, Daniel replied indignantly:
“Trying to get onto this sssssssssssstool”
Lifting his head, the old man studied Daniel and Daniel, hanging his head to one side, did the same to the old man. His hair was wispy and white and his blue eyes were sunken into there sockets; he had been hunched over a glass of whisky. The old man was clearly not impressed:
“I said what are you doing WITH YOUR LIFE?”
“Not that it’s any of your businesssssss………but well….I don’t know really”
“Why don’t you know?”
“Hey, I’m only young and well…I walked out on my marriage today”
Daniel hadn’t noticed but the old man was speaking with calmer authority now. Memories of earlier came flooding back. Sobering up he was becoming more morose as he realised for the first time in the entire day the truth of what he had done:
“Why did you do that…?”
In his minds eye Daniel was no longer facing an old man in a pub but was facing his father, when he eventually caught up with him. Staring away from the old man somewhere between the Jack Daniels bottle and the rows of wine glasses he replied:
“I don’t know, we are too young, I’m 21, she’s 20. I want to live a little ya know…I’m not saying I don’t love her…I just need to experience more things to be sure she’s the one…”
As he trailed off the old man started cackling manically; five minutes later he had calmed down enough to speak:
“You know what scares me?”
Daniel shook his head.
“What scares me is that I have been watching you for most of the night and you think you have your whole life in front of you…blissfully unaware that a huge part of it has just slipped through your fingers. I did the same as you. I can still remember the look in her eyes now…she loved me with all her heart… and I ran…that look will haunt me for the rest of my shortening days on this earth…”
At this point Daniel zoned out. He wasn’t in a bar listening to an old mans regrets anymore; he was back at that alter looking into her eyes…
“BARMAN ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD”
“Don’t you think you have had enough?”
“NO, I say when I have had enough”
He was surprised that there was no reproach forthcoming from the old man. Turning his head quasi-quizzically he noticed that the old man had gone but had left the dregs of his whisky. After consuming one for the road he launched off in search of a taxi. He wasn’t quite sure when or where but at some stage the stars vanished from the sky and everything went black.