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Copyright 2014-2019 Hidden Wirral
The Blossoming of Love
By Tony Franks-Buckley
Death, just how close do you want to take yourself?
I sit quietly waiting, watching for you to make that final move. You don’t know I am there but believe me, I am there.
Tonight I am sitting waiting for a man called William Etherington, but today we will just call him Billy. It looks like I have a few moments to spare so let me tell you a little story about Billy and how we first came into contact just over a year ago.
It was on a Thursday afternoon that my eye first caught him whilst he was sitting at his desk. I was not there to see Billy; I was there for somebody else, somebody who had been expecting me for quite a while now. It was a curious conversation that led me to stop as I passed.
“So you’re out for the night then?” A shout came through the door.
“When?” Billy replied as he turned to face the figure in the doorway.
“My birthday of course, remember it is this Friday.”
“Jenny of course how did I forget, yes I’ll be there. What time?”
“8:30 in the Philharmonic don’t be late.”
Billy looked at his Friday schedule; several meetings arranged but nothing preventing him from leaving work on time.
“I won’t be late, would not miss it for the world.”
“See you there, must dash.” Jenny said as her attention was quickly distracted by her erratic beeper before Billy could reply.
Billy had not forgotten about the importance of Friday, he had something special planned for Jenny on her birthday; it was part of his game. For several months they have been doing the normal thing in the workplace that two single people of the opposite sex would do. Saying little things to each other offering sympathy when they may have a touch of infection or an alcohol induced illness. Casual flirts nothing extreme just a simple indication of the attraction for one another. They often would make silly references about sexual activity, rather than just saying how they would like to tear off each other’s clothes at the first available opportunity. It was all the usual little bits of fun that gently avoided the final submission. But that coming Friday, Billy had decided that will be the day that he would finally make his move. I myself enjoy a little observation of romance so I checked my diary to see if I was in the area at the time, seemed I had a free opening. I would be there to further observe the blossoming of love.
“This is it Jimmy, this is the night, I just hope it goes well.”
“Where are you meeting?” Jimmy asked as he took a bite out of his dreadful canteen prepared burger.
“In the Philharmonic at 8:30, are you coming? If I am the only lad there I’ll look a fool.” He said nervously.
“Relax; you’re going to be surrounded by women, and super hot women if that. Trust me, I am already there.” Jimmy displayed a raging smile despite the plain and unsatisfying taste in his mouth.
“You worry too much”
“You know I am not good at these things.”
“She is just as bad as you otherwise we would not be having this conversation now.”
“But what if she says no?”
“Look Billy boy, if she was not interested, why would she be hovering around you at every available moment.”
“I know, just please don’t let me down and make sure you’re there with me.”
“I’ll be holding your hand all the way.” Jimmy laughed, but the laughter did not last for long as he removed a piece of gristle that had just crunched against his teeth.”
“Should have gone for the salad” Billy joked.
“See Billy, a woman is much like this burger, if you do not check the product before you bite in, something will surely surprise you.” Jimmy said as he flicked the piece of gristle back towards the canteen lady.
“What has that got to do with me and Jenny?” Billy asked.
“What I am saying is, if you do not sample a slice of the pie, how do you know that you do not want to eat that pie for the rest of your life. This pie is starting to go stale my friend, you need to take a sample before the crust is too hard and you can no longer bite in.”
Despite, Jimmy’s bizarre explanation of making a move, Billy expressed a sense of being relieved, his best friend and work colleague was going to be there, he would not be left alone. Well there would be other male colleagues there but Billy did not congregate with them, they worked in a different department and he was not the most forward person for making new friends. I was called away for another appointment, so had to leave the room, but on the way back I happened to notice Jenny talking to her friend so I stopped and ear dropped for a while. After all, love cannot be observed from only one angle.
“Cinderella will be going to the ball tonight.”
“What colour are you going for then?” Her friend asked.
“I picked the red one, goes well with my blonde hair and best of all, I already have the shoes to match.”
“The ones you wore for the races the other week?”
“Yes that’s the ones, now with more sparkles as well.”
“You could hardly walk in them; remember you nearly fell flat on your face at least half a dozen times, they will be the death of you one day.”
“Oh come on Sarah, they are so pretty though, and you know how I like pretty things”
Sarah Sniggered at that comment. “I know you do, spending nearly half your wages last month on one handbag that you will hardly use.”
“I am using it Friday as a matter of fact.”
“So are you going to finally make the move then?” Sarah asked as she fitted a white linen sheet onto the bed that had become recently available.
“It should be him asking me, it is more romantic for the male to ask.”
“But it has been nearly four months and the pair of you are still in the same position.”
“I know, I know. Maybe he will ask me this Friday?” Jenny said as she stared hopelessly into the distance as she romanced in her mind just how beautiful it may be if Billy finally asked her out and especially on her 30th birthday. Again duty called and I had to leave, so I was unable to stop and listen any longer, but I was to be free again that evening to see just how it played out.
That evening, I wore my usual attire and Jenny was wearing just exactly what she described. She along with five other friends including Sarah was all gathered in the Philharmonic pub in Liverpool enjoying their complimentary first round of drinks.
“Stop looking at your watch, he will be here.” Sarah said to Jenny who was looking in a bit of a nervous state.
“I know he will, just keeping an eye on the time.”
“Well stop watching and get that drink down your neck” Sarah pushed her hand under the glass of vodka and orange, forcing it down the throat of Jenny who did little to resist.
The girls had moved on to their next round of drinks, the time was just a little past 8:30. The doors swung open and in stepped Billy and Jimmy, dressed in identical suits. They sported half buttoned shirts revealing strands of chest hair beneath thick golden chains, displaying a swagger of their wealth. They walked across to the gathering of girls, Jimmy leading the way with his eyes firmly on certain female assets. Billy only had eyes on one thing.
“You made it.” Jenny said excitingly.
“Bit of a complication in work, had me running late, you know how it is.” Billy replied as he took a sly glance down at the revealing cleavage showing through Jenny’s red dress.
“See something you like down there Cowboy?” Jenny said as she continued the game.
Billy become startled at being caught red handed. “Sorry, you look lovely, absolutely stunning. I was just admiring the view.”
“Why thank you. So are you going to buy me a birthday drink then?” Jenny asked as she bit her bottom lip, revealing a sultry face.
“Vodka and orange is it?”
“Make it a double, I am celebrating.”
Billy walked to the bar to meet Jimmy who was already busy eying up the female talent in his direct vicinity.
“Look at the Feeders on that” Jimmy said whilst pointing in the direction of a woman in a highly revealing small tight dress.
“Don’t do that, Jenny is watching.”
“You’re not even an item yet.”
“I am working on it, I’ll ask her later.”
“In that dress, your luck will be in tonight my friend.”
“She looks amazing doesn’t she.” Billy said as he looked over towards her.
Jenny was laughing amongst her friends as Billy looked over, still giving the look of come and get me, which Billy was receiving loud and clear, as he starting to sweat nervously waiting for attention from the bar tender.
Billy waited for nearly ten minutes, by the count on my watch before he was served by the hopeless bar tender. The pub had began to fill up with a variety of people, I could tell I would be seeing some of them sooner rather than later despite the smiles on their faces.
“You took your time didn’t you?” Jenny said as she took the drink out of Billy’s outreached hand.
That uncomfortable moment had happened, words had run out, it was now or never, the moment that Billy had been dreading all day if not for the last three months.
“Yes.” She responded whilst removing the straw from her lips and looking up into Billy’s eyes.
“There is something I have been meaning to ask you”
There was another silent moment
“Go on, I am waiting, spit it out”
“I.....” Billy said as the music changed.
Jenny was pulled from his reach before he could complete his sentence. She was now part of a circle of girls, dancing wild with excitement at the sound of the latest popular song. She expressed an apology in her face as she could not pull free. Billy returned to the bar rueing his missed opportunity, where he found Jimmy exchanging numbers with the girl with the large cleavage from earlier.
“Bar tender, large JD and coke please.” He shouted with a sense of frustration in his voice.
“How did it go, did you tell her?” Jimmy asked as returned back to the bar, buttoning up his top pocket smiling like a Cheshire cat who had just got the cream.
“I was just about to tell her, then she got dragged away, that was the chance I know it was, and I’ve blown it.” Billy was really feeling down now as he looked in a sombre mood.
“Look Bill, I’ll sort it out for you, trust me you will be feeling much better later on.” Jimmy said, whilst patting him on the shoulder.
“I am going the toilet will be back in a minute.”
As Billy walked off, Jimmy swallowed the last of the contents in his glass, then raising the attention of the bar tender.
“Three shots of sambuca please.”
“What flavour?” The bartender asked.
“Just give me the dark one that will be perfect.” He smiled as he opened his top pocket thinking about how much better his night had already got, now it was time he made his friend feel better and give him the courage to finally get it on with Jenny.
Billy returned from the toilet where Jimmy had been waiting patiently holding the three small glasses in his hand. “Come with me.” Jimmy said to Billy, who followed in his footsteps.
Jimmy walked over to the group of girls shouting for Jenny to leave the circle and come and stand with himself and Billy. He passed out the drinks, one to Billy and one to Jenny.
“Happy birthday Jenny, may this be the start of one hell of a night.”
“Oh yes Sambuca, my favourite.” She replied with a gleaming smile on her face.
“To Jenny” They raised their glasses, clashing them against another and drinking them down in one gulp.
“Now, let me leave you two love birds to it, I have matters of my own to attend to.” Jimmy walked off, looking directly at the group of girls situated on the other side of the room.
With each moment in the next hour that Billy and Jenny spent together, I could see Billy was finding it much easier to speak to Jenny, he felt more able to open up to her. The music had changed and became more in rhythm, giving him the inescapable urge to dance, something that he very rarely did. I watched as every so often he would go back to the bar for more drinks; they were both getting caught up in the moment. Jenny’s friends who were now nonexistent to the couple were all scattered around the room, making their own amusement with members of the opposite sex. It was just Billy and Jenny, acting as if they were the only two people in the room. I knew this feeling all too well.
Things were different on the other side of the room. Jimmy was no longer displaying his masculinity to the opposite sex; he had staggered out the door unnoticed by the rest of the crowds. I noticed though.
I missed the next hour or two, having been called away to an urgent appointment, one that was not expected for many years. But it was down by the river that I found them walking along the promenade. Both still as lively as they had been from when I had left, not taking notice of anyone except each other despite the mating call from the males to females around them. I continued behind closely, to further observe.
“I am feeling great you know Billy, have I told you that tonight?” Jenny said as she raised her hands in the air as if she was in a spiritual trance.
“You look great, have I told you that tonight?” Billy said as he placed his hands on Jenny’s hips which resulted in Jenny beginning to slither her body up against Billy, still moving to the music that was playing in her head.
“So what were you going to tell me earlier” She asked as her arms were now wrapped around Billy’s neck.
“It is something that I have been trying to tell you for several months.” He said as he turned Jenny round to face him. Their eyes were sparkling as they met, he felt alive, more alive than he had felt since his days of university.
“I love you Jennie Bawden, I think I have loved you since the day we met.” He had finally said it, his heart was pumping fast and loud, I could hear it beating from where I was waiting several feet away.
“I love you too. I have been waiting for you to ask me for a very long time.” They locked lips passionately, groping each other as tight as they could for several minutes.
“Come on, let’s go back to mine.”Billy said as they gave each other room to breathe.
Their excited state continued as they headed back in towards the town to Billy’s luxury apartment. I tailed behind watching and hoping that I had enough time to watch the blossoming of love before my next appointment was due.
The last of the clubs and pubs were emptying their contents onto the street, closing the doors swiftly behind. Taxis and buses were hurrying round fitting in as many fares as possible, valuing an extra few pounds more than anything. Liverpool really was a fast cycled city, quick to get them in and quick to disperse of them once no more transactions could be completed.
“How far away do you live?” Jenny asked as she ran her tongue over her dry lips that were craving out for another drink.
“Just up here, not that far.” He replied.
“I need a drink, my head is pounding. I really feel funny.” Jenny was starting to become a bit irrational.
“You’re just sobering up, nothing to worry about.” Billy said as he tried to reassure her. He pulled on her hand highly aroused; thinking only getting back to his flat.
“I really need a drink and I need one now.”
I could see that Jenny was in distress as I stepped closer, circling them, watching in anticipation.
“Just calm down, we will be there soon.”
“But I cannot swallow, my mouth is bone dry.”
“Here, kiss me. I’ll help you swallow.”
Billy’s mind was definitely in another place. Jenny had suffered enough; she wanted what she needed and began to break free from the clasping hand of Billy as they were walking along the busy street.
“What are you doing calm down.” He shouted as he turned to look at Jenny who no longer wanted to be joined to him.
“Get off me” She shouted.
“Just come here and kiss me”
“No, I don’t want to kiss you, I want a drink.”
“You’re just being stupid now.” Billy laughed.
“My throat is closing, I can’t breathe”. Jenny was grasping her throat as her eyes filled with fear. Sweat poured from her head, pins and needles danced throughout her body as her heart pumped faster and louder than ever.
“What are you doing?” Jimmy said as he turned to look at the pale face lagging behind him.
“Let go of my hand, I want to go home.” Jenny said in a whimpered voice.
“No come on stop being silly, we are nearly at my flat it is just up there.” He said as he pointed up to the high rise block of flats.
“I said let go.” She began to try and break free.
“Jenny come on I have been waiting for this for a long time.” Billy was pleading.
“No, I am going home now get off me before I scream.” She pulled harder to break free, Billy resisted no more and the joining grasp became unlocked sending both Billy and Jenny in opposite directions.
The overly high heels caused Jenny to lose her balance; she waved her arms as she desperately tried to regain stability. Billy grabbed at the air as he tried to claw her back to safety but he could not prevent her from departing the pavement. A flash of light engulfed the area and Billy could no longer see. He shielded his eyes in a desperate effort to see what was happening. I became the darkness within the light as I watched her return to the earth; it was now time for me to step in and we both swiftly left. That was the last time I observed love.
Several months passed until I seen Billy again. He was alone in his flat surrounded by empty bottles, bottles that were no longer making any difference. He met a new friend, well not really a friend. It was somebody who only popped round now and then and did not stay for long. I was probably his closest friend, yet we did not speak, but he longed for me each day since that I put an end to the blossoming of love. We spent many hours together; I got closer to Billy each time. The mornings of surprise were followed by the evenings of despair. Days, weeks and months elapsed and the routine never changed.
But unfortunately now is time for the story to end, just over a year to the day that we first came into contact, we are back in that very same place that our journey began. I must make my presence known despite his work colleagues doing their best to reignite his spirit.
What have I learned from the blossoming of love, maybe it is something that I never wish to personally experience. It is not in my job description to care for anybody in that way. Love can be a dangerous action and actions have consequences. One wrong move can be fatal. But when was the wrong move for Billy? Maybe it was the months of hesitation? Was it in the pub drinking that fatal cocktail with his friend? Maybe it was the taxi that took Jenny away from him? Or was it now as I place my hand upon his shoulder?
Anyway, no further time to ponder, people to see and duties to fill. Have you made your move in love yet, I suggest you hurry and experience the blossoming of love before it becomes too late.
See you soon.
Having spent several years stuck in the history books and writing historical fact, I thought it was time to expand my work in to short fiction. The brainstorm came along and The Blossoming of Love was born. This story is based in the 21st Century and is set in Liverpool, England. The basis of the story is about Love and taking your opportunities, but this has an added twist. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.