Friends & Lovers….Chapter 1

Meg had peeled the potato to within an inch of its life! Lost in melancholy reminiscences, she was vaguely aware of an insistent hum somewhere on the periphery of her conscious thought. It was getting louder.
“Meg! For goodness sake! How long does it take to peel a couple of potatoes?” said Joan in exasperation.
It was Meg’s usual Sunday night dinner at her Mum’s place. Meg stared at her mother for a second before it registered she was actually being asked a question.
“Oh. Sorry Mum, I was lost in thought. What did you say?” Meg smiled weakly, not at all in the mood for her mother’s remonstrating.
“Give me that. You go and set the table. Isn’t it about time you snapped out of this….this mood?” her mother asked, with that all too familiar impatient ring.
Meg felt the involuntary shackles rise, and squared her shoulders yet again for another defensive verbal spar, with her all too practical mother.
“You know what I’m talking about Meg. It’s been a year. You know you are well shot of him. He was always a Peter Pan. I wish you had listened to me…”
The dinner plates clattered noisily as Meg placed them a little more than firmly on the table.
“O.K Mum! I don’t want to hear it again. Sam wasn’t always so selfish; he changed. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t be sad. I spent nearly half my life with him…gave him nearly half my life…”
Meg’s voice trailed off weakly, and she sat down with a thud, suddenly very tired. Tired of her mother’s self-righteous sermons; tired of trying to figure it all out; tired of herself.
Sam was her recently ex-husband,full-time musician, part-time child. He had always been so charismatic, so spontaneous, and she had loved those qualities about him, all too painfully aware of her own quieter and more sensible bent, which reminded her way too much of her own mother. Afterall, she was named after Meg in “Little Women”; the sober, practical one. Having raised Meg on her own after Meg’s father had died when she was a baby, Joan had felt the need to order her life to the extreme. It probably satisfied the inevitable need for a sense of security. Meg couldn’t blame her, but she refused to be like her.
Meg had always found refuge and excitement in books, reading voraciously all her life. Eventually, and tentatively, she began to write her own stories, which no one but her had ever read, not even Sam, who she had met when she was just eighteen, and been with until she was thirty-one, almost a year ago now.
She wouldn’t say she had shared her life, because in retrospect, Meg realized, Sam merely lived his life, and she had gone along for the ride. She would have followed him anywhere, and did; to the mountains, to the coast, overseas, wherever the mood or his music lead him. In between his adventures, she had struggled to finally finish her teaching degree, and she liked her job, most of the time; especially when she could truly awaken a love for all the wonderful stories that had sustained her through her own childhood.
That is, until Sam, whose unfettered personality and lifestyle was to Meg like fiction come to life!
She’d always wondered why he chose her, and when she had ever asked him, he only answered, “Meggie, you are my anchor.” But obviously, she thought bitterly, she had become a weight, something he was destined to cut loose
It all ended quite uneventfully, almost quietly. Just a couple of furtive phone calls really, and some strangely urgent love-making, as if he was trying too hard to love her. The end always felt to Meg like the demise of the Titantic; unknown hidden dangers, then here one minute, gone the next. Something so big, so all-consuming, all-encompassing, broken and disappeared forever. There wasn’t any ranting and raving, both Meg and Sam being generally adverse to confrontation, for different reasons. Sam had always wanted everyone to like him, hated to make an enemy, even of the wife he was cheating on! He’d turned out to be a coward really, Meg thought, no explanations, no apology, just a complete emotional freeze, until unable to cope with his coldness towards her, she had packed his bags for him, and left them on the porch. No big bang to commemorate all those years, just a sad, pathetic fizzle.
For the first six months, Meg thought she would snap from the strain of unnatural directions, even resorting to driving past the house where he had moved out with ‘her’. ‘Her’, with the tortuously tantalizing name of Inez! Meg finally decided she really didn’t want to put a face to the exotic name; her writer’s imagination was doing a good enough job, and she always turned out to be someone very different from herself.
She really threw herself into her work, and found after a while that she really did enjoy teaching. Sam’s music had always taken priority for years. Now she was finally number one in her own life, and apart from work, Meg didn’t quite know what to do with it.
After the first flush of sympathy, her married friends had dropped off one by one. She was the odd nomber at dinner parties now, and much to her surprise, she had become something of a ‘threat’, to those wives who could never imagine their husbands would ever leave. Even while they bitched about their husbands, they exuded a contentment that Meg found unbearable to be around. They all distanced themselves in their sympathetic smiles, and Meg found it easier to keep her own company, working, writing, and wondering. But she was young enough to miss the love of a man. Or more specifically, the company of a man, the touch of a man. Some nights the ache and the longing was so intense, she thought she would never be able to bear it. She even berated herself for all those years she had taken for granted the unlimited access to a man’s arms, his kisses. There were certain times now, when merely a man’s presence, his maleness made her physically ache with longing, not just for sex she realized, but for the need to be held, touched,loved.
“That’s just the point isn’t it?” continued Joan. “You’re not getting any younger…..tick, tick, tick darling,” she said, wagging her finger like a tiny metronome.
Meg’s mouth fell open in disbelief.
“Oh, why don’t you just cut to the chase Mum! I can’t believe you just said that!”
“Well, you’ve spent enough time being sentimental and morose. It’s time to move on….there’s plenty more fish in the sea, as they say,” Joan said, waving her hand about as if that was that.
Meg could feel her anger rising again.
“As who says Mum? And how exactly does one do that; find the other ‘fish’ ready and willing to commit and procreate? Show me where they all are Mum, or am I supposed to settle for just any old ‘fish’ that washes up on the shore?!”
Meg and her mother stared at eachother, flabbergasted at the turn the conversation had taken, then simultaneously burst out laughing.
“Let’s just eat,” said Meg finally, shaking her head. “What are we having?”
“Fish,” said Joan quietly, with an uncharacteristically mischievious grin.

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