11:00am – The Rose Path

by S R Gurney 13 days ago in literature

Excerpt 2 from my new novel

11:00am – The Rose Path
Photo by Justin DoCanto on Unsplash

I look out over the garden seeing beautiful shrubs and trees and flowers, which grow amply and look healthy and vibrant. I take a sip from my tea, and it is pleasant enough, the light I see is both clear and bright and I can see it illuminate the faces of the people around the garden, talking and looking and living. That’s the power of the mind, to delude even ourselves that we aren’t always living, because we as a condition of having this very thought; incite those moments which are memorable aside those which are forgettable. And in this balance comes fourth the design of storytelling, as if only to break the eighth wall. Where it is in our natural tongue to convey, discuss, express and argue, continuously, but it is this very mundane endurance of repetition, year-in-year-out, which causes these moments to become petite.

There is a man, around his sixties, and he is grimacing because the apple he picked from the tree is sour. He goes for another bite, and I see the fear in man, that is existent in his expression. He throws the apple on the floor and tries to crush it. I take another sip. I see a woman on a bench in a sun patch, looks like she is in her late 50’s. I watch the smoke curl away from her as she exhales, she releases a little cough. I lift my eyebrows and watch closely, as she appears not to blink once over the course of her entire cigarette. I am first astonished, a little bit by both the ability to daydream so intensely that one forgets to blink, and her future potential as a staring contest champion.

I take the last sip of my tea, and I see Mr Lavish turn around the corner, and he is looking for me, because his eyesight is woeful; he’d be better off with sonar instead of style. He’s dressed like a British Prince for a dinner party, but that’s Mr Lavish. I put my tea down and rise from the couch to greet him. As I get within five feet of him, he notices me and elates “Mr. Anchor, how long has it been? Come let’s take a walk in the garden, I’ve been inside all morning, and would love to smell some roses.” I acknowledge his request and extend my hand in front of me to gesture as to follow his path and preferred walk, and we leave back into the foyer, to the outside gardens, along the south of the building’s exterior.

As we step through the exit into the outside, there is a breath of fresh air, and the sun begins to tear the clouds apart, splitting them like a knife. We take the route around the grounds which stretches right, and I can see there are few on this journey. The ground crunches with pinkish stones underneath the shoe, it is a nice sound, that I rather like. The weather is fairing brighter by the minute, and there are bouts of heat which hastily retreat when the sun returns behind faint clouds. We reach a line of roses which follow the path around the grounds, Mr. Lavish leans over to them and smells intently. “Mhhh, O’ wow! They really are the most terrific flowers to smell, just divine!” Mr. Lavish has a way of being cultivated, by life and the experience of actioning, memory crafting and the likes. I find it wonderfully endearing.

“You know this reminds me of the old days. Sitting on fields and laughing and joking our lives away. Isn’t it weird how nothing ever feels more fleeting than a memory, especially the longer its lasted, like a worn photograph to the mind, the picture becomes hazy and scattered in fragments of forgotten detail?” I say to him in earnest.

“Are you still trying to tether everything down Mr. Anchor? Because you’re doing a good job. But life doesn’t stop because you’ve got memories, and there are times when it seems you have all the memories you wished for but no ability to remember them. Just be thankful you had them, and hopefully when you can’t remember them like me, you have a kind friend who can remind you. It’s nice walking today, you’re making me forget my age.” Rex says this without lifting his eyes from the beauty he finds in the roses. Through sight and by scent, we slowly begin to advance.

“And so, are you going to tell me about any memory in particular, because I can’t remember a single one?” Mr Lavish inquires provocatively, catching my eyesight and winking.

“Well what about the time that we snuck into an active quarry on a Sunday? And had a fire extinguisher fight in the lot of demountable offices, piled like juvenile pieces on top and beside one another? And how the owner of the Quarry happened to be walking his dog that day and noticed us, and we ran for our lives, like if we didn’t escape, he was going to lock us away in some Stephen King inspired Melo-Horror.”

“And did he Mr. Anchor?” Rex replies as he adjoins the rock path.

I wait a few moments before we begin a walking again “Well he did catch up to us, after we scaled the clay cliff above a swampish pond, and left the way we’d gotten in. But he was rather a gentle giant in the end, and so was his dog. I guess looking back now he could have easily called on us, but we were children and didn’t really know any better. We didn’t want to hurt anyone, we were just there for a summer thrill, and in some way, I think he knew that. The Quarryman was confronting children wearing masks of the villain, and it was our salvation in this confrontation, that allowed us to remove these masks with our fleshy and innocent skin, which made it seem impossible for the owner to retain the danger of a punishment beyond a verbal banishment… but I guess it worked, because we never went back again.”

“And so Mr. Anchor, what is it about roses and this walk that reminds you of the Quarry?”

“You know, it’s funny you should ask, because I suppose other than us in the memory, there is no obvious connection. Isn’t the mind such a marvellous thing, that even like a rose might poison itself, so might the mind. Forgetting even its own memory. What a power we all passively operate.”

“Well, there you have it. Mr Anchor strikes again. Tell me another, you’ve got such a wonderfully anxious memory, it makes me feel free not to have it all stored up in my head and to hear it like someone else’s book. Just magnificent.” Rex looks wantonly of another story, in a very child-like sarcasm. “Come on Anchor, what else have you got in that memory bank?”

“Hmm, alright Mr Lavish. What about the time we were thieved for our mobiles in London, and we got to ride around in police cars looking for our robber?”

“And did we find him?” He says unknowingly, like a genuine question.

“I’m afraid not Rex. But we were driven near enough around the entire borough before the police accepted that it was unlikely we would retrieve the phone. I must say I am still a little disappointed we did not find our mugger; it would have added to the belt to see a police showdown with the 7 ft gold-toothed pirate offering circular rubber tips as ecstasy. And even though we said no to the rubber tip, he still took the phone, which I don’t know why he hadn’t started with. I couldn’t have given a shallot about ecstasy at the time.” We both laugh.

“And what is it we were doing in this borough of London?” Mr Lavish deploys in earnest.

“You know, I believe we were seeing a show, and it always seemed that no matter the outcome, there we were. Attempting to see our lives through, in the limitless scatter-scapes of modernity. Trifling existence as the robbery of possession, but you know what? He could have that phone a million times more, so long as he hadn’t taken you.” I say so with a softness.

“You are sweet today, sweeter than the scent of flowers, but what about the memories even you’ve forgotten?” Rex says so sardonically.

“I sincerely doubt it Mr Lavish. I have near remembered all of my entire life, but there are always memories we can wish to forget, and maybe even thankfully you have. But I fear you will never forget how to dress yourself, that I believe even your skeleton will don the garnished clothing of your wardrobe. How many rooms does it occupy now Rex?” I say diminutively and the conversation quietens, I think Rex hadn’t the bother to even respond.

We pass over the act of communicating and are engaging in the pleasantness of walking aside one another as old friends, and there needn’t be more said; though I want to and so I do. I palm his attention with my voice and say “Rex”, giving slight pause of my thoughts lilt to emphasize my sincerity “do you remember your husband?” His face shimmers with light, and his eyes burn passionately like a furnace, he smiles at me and says with earnest “I had a husband?” And I take great pride in reassuring “Yes you did Rex, and he was amazing, he treated with such deference. You would say to me that you’d trade your entire wardrobe collection for another second with hm.” I see a tear well on the edge of his eye lid, and his shaking lip exhales with emotion. “Would you please my mind and tell me his name Mr Anchor?” I desire to oblige.

“His name was Phoenix Blue.”

“Mr. Anchor, do you know what happens when you forget that you miss someone?” Rex speaks with uncertainty, like he can feel the buzz of a bee as it echoes the musical vibration of A through his throat.

“I’m afraid Rex, my memory seems persistently incapable of forgetting.” I say so solemnly, but with heart.

“Let me tell you Anchor. Across my apartment I see photos of Phoenix and I every day, and sometimes I can barely recognize my own self in the photo. But it’s like when you’re doing a puzzle, and every time you get it out, you lose more and more pieces of what we hold to dear to be memories, which is in fact events that shape our souls. And the shame that I feel because I know these photos and those memories mean the entire cacophony of human emotion to me. I am despised of my own saudade. And I know is as a strange ne savoir faire experience to feel the glint of something you don’t really know is missing.”

S R Gurney
S R Gurney
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
S R Gurney


Graduate. Author. Director.

Inspirer to noone.

Compulsive Hypochondriac.

Elusive Dreamer.

Thought Hallucinator.

See all posts by S R Gurney