"Take your chance on life and love when it comes your way and don't blow the opportunity.The future is promised to no one. Go for it now! The most perfect time to pursue your dreams is when you are in the midst of reverie and are experiencing the sheer hallucination of unbridled happiness.
Often it is the transparency of another's life, observed by the one who lost out in the love stakes, which is the saddest of all.
Every now and then, I have a thought that eventually transforms itself into a theme of a future story I may one day write. Sometimes I do turn it into a published tale and sometimes, it just remains as a loose thought hidden at the back of my creative drawer. I include such a thought today, which I may one day write up fully into one of my romantic novels.
Imagine growing up loving a beautiful woman who you never dared to proclaim your love for. At the age of twenty, you and she courted briefly. You thought her so beautiful that you captured her image in a photograph that she signed, 'To Dave. All my love. Amy x.' You loved that image so much that you had it framed and have kept it in pride of place by your your bedside ever since. It is the first and last thing you see when starting and ending your day.
Then, because of your non-assertiveness, you failed to declare your feelings on the occasions when the opportunity arose, and you missed the boat. Soon after, Amy met another man who stirred her fancy, just like you once did, but this new man in her life was not afraid at expressing his feelings for another; particularly someone he wants to marry. After a whirlwind romance, the couple married. You are heartbroken and curse your procrastination.
Instead of moving far away however, and allowing you to forget your ghastly mistake, without knowing it, your old girl friend and her husband moved geographically closer. They set up their matrimonial abode in a house directly across the street from where you still live. They live at number 34 Walter Street and you live at number 25, Walter Street.
Over the next twenty years, you watch Amy's life move on, while your feelings still remain trapped in your regretful past. For years you keep her image in secret, lodged behind the glass screen of her framed photograph, taunting you day and night of the one that got away. You watch helplessly through your lounge window as you see her life become more fulfilled while yours becomes emptier and more meaningless.
One week, Amy and her husband, Cyril, notice the funeral car outside your house across the road. Three weeks later they see the furniture removal van outside your house. In all the years Amy and her husband lived across the road from you, not once did they ever cast eyes on their neighbour close enough to speak with you. Whenever you left the house for any reason, you always shielded your face from recognition of you neighbours across the street. You were always too embarrassed to let her know you still existed and lived there.
One evening, a few months after my move of house, in my aching loneliness my thoughts turn to Amy and I find the memory of 'what could have been' and the pain of 'what was to be' too hard to bear. I felt like screaming to the high heavens, but instead, I contented myself with the writing of a letter to Amy. In this letter of love, I unburden myself and finally declared my long held feelings for her, the only woman I have ever loved or ever will; those feelings I have secretly held for over twenty years.
For a lifetime I have loved you, but was too frightened to declare my feelings. I am so sorry that I didn't tell you how I really felt all those years ago, when I know you held me in your close affections. I let the moment pass and before I could correct my mistake, you fell in love with another, a much bolder man, who, unlike me, immediately told you how much he loved you and wanted you both to be together forever as husband and wife.
I have regretted this procrastination of mine every minute of every hour during all the years that have passed by since we courted briefly. I curse myself for not having had the courage to speak out then and tell you how I felt for you. If only I had dared to speak out then....who knows what might have been?
Living across the road from you since your wedding to Cyril (whoever heard of a man called Cyril who was born the son of a Yorkshire miner?), has merely prolonged my lifelong regret. Indeed, had it not been for having to live with my invalided widowed mother for the past twenty three years in her property, I would have moved house long ago, rather than endure the daily pain of seeing your image through my window pane and knowing I could never touch you again. But being stuck with mum has kept me stuck with the you I lost, and with the memory of our past.
As I have watched your life unfurl in all its chapters over the years, it has been a painful reminder of what I lost through my reticence. I watched you outside the church in your wedding gown as I concealed myself behind a group of spectators. You looked absolutely stunning, like you always did. I've watched your new boyfriend become your husband and then later, I watched him become the father of your three children; the children I had always dreamed of having with you. Each time I looked from my window and saw you playing happy families, a baser part of me even hoped that your husband might experience a happy accident from which he passed away or had even turned cruel, insensitive or unfaithful, so that you would cast him out of your life; thereby leaving room for me to walk back in.
Today, is one of the worst days of my life and it has left me with an aching, angry emptiness that I know I cannot fill again. My feelings of loneliness and loss have grown more than I've ever felt, after mum died; leaving me with nobody close to love. After her funeral, I sold up her house in an attempt to bury my memory of you also. How futile a gesture that proved to be. Though I moved house farther away from you, I cannot rid my mind from forever thinking of you; where you are at this precise moment, what you're doing and who with?Every time I shut and open my eyes, your image is the first sight I see. You're like my love leech, draining all my blood to transfuse into yours.
Now, I have told you, Amy, what I should have told you over twenty years ago; that I love you and always have loved you, ever since that first time we kissed in the Savoy cinema. Having now served my only remaining purpose in this life, I say a sweet goodbye. Please stay happy for my sake.'
Love Dave x
I folded the letter, put it in a manila envelope and placed it on a dressing table. The letter was addressed simply 'To Amy' and bore no address or surname.
Three months after the funeral of Dave's mother, Amy's husband, Cyril, is reading the evening newspaper in his lounge one evening while his wife is sitting in the chair across from him reading a book. Cyril suddenly asks, 'Wasn't that the chap who used to live across the road, from us, Amy?' as he shows her press cutting image of Dave.
Amy looks at the press cutting of Dave and remarks, 'I don't know, Cyril. I've never seen him before.'
Her husband replies, 'Yes! I thought it was him. It says here that he used to live at number 25, Walter Street. He must have been that chap whom we never saw; you know who I mean; the one who looked after his invalided mother until she died. Anyway, the poor sod was a depressive and seemingly he has drowned himself in Cleckheaton Beck. Poor sod!'
At that moment, something vaguely familiar about the face makes Amy take a second look at the image in the press cutting, but after a few seconds she concludes, 'No! I can't say I ever knew him!'
Should Dave return in another form, in another lifetime, I hope he will be brave enough to seize what he wants from his life and hold on tightly to it. Life is too short to settle for less than you deserve. Life is too short to be forever bound by the constraints of convention and the restraints of failing to express one's emotions. Life is there to be lived. We live it better when we learn to forgive quickly, to love freely, kiss slowly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes us smile and feel good to be alive!" William Forde: September 9th, 2016.