11 December 2019

Hold me, love me, leave me? by Anna Belfrage - A Story Inspired By A Song


Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...
Female Alcoholism, Woman, Girl

”I thought I’d find you here.”
Mandy closed her eyes. That voice. His voice. The one voice she should not be yearning for on the eve of her wedding, and still, just the sound of it had her heart skipping a beat or two.
   Two years since she’d given him an ultimatum. Two years since she’d stood in the early dawn and watched him leave, her heart in splinters at her feet, his eyes filled with so much pain it made her gut twist. But she’d been right: she needed more. Stuff that Johnny couldn’t give her, but that Simon would deliver on. A home, a steady income, stability—the list was long. And yet….
   “Hi Johnny,” she said, without turning around. Before her, the setting sun painted the still lake in every shade of orange imaginable. She heard him jump down to land on the flat rock beside her. The rustle of his jeans, and he was sitting beside her, close enough that she could feel the warmth emanating from his body.
   “I’ve missed you, Mandy-girl,” he said, handing her a bottle of beer. Cold, condensation making the glass slippery.

Alcohol, Alcoholism, Ale, Background

Not like I’ve missed you, she thought. It would be impossible for him to do so, and she’d seen the pictures of the up-and-coming singer and his various lady companions. He smiled at other girls, he had an arm round other women’s shoulders, and she hated him for forgetting her so quickly—and herself for having pushed him away.
   “You seem to have been coping just fine,” she therefore said, still not daring to look at him. She chugged some beer, keeping her gaze on the water, on the clouds that drifted over the sky.
   “As have you,” he replied. “It took what? Six months and then you were dating the man of your dreams.”
   Bitterness dripped from every word. She peeked at him, and he was staring straight ahead, the mouth set in a far grimmer line than she’d ever recalled seeing before.
   “I said goodbye to the man of my dreams two years ago,” she said. He turned to meet her gaze. “Life has to be built on something more solid than dreams,” she continued. “Dreams are like gossamer, so frail, so easily shredded.” Her hand crept up to stroke his cheek. Her voice broke. “But the dream still remains a dream, a constant “what if” whispering through your head.”
   “Yeah.” He covered her hand with his own and just like that their fingers braided, him tugging slightly until their joined hands rested on his thigh.
   “Mum says I’m making a mistake,” she said. “She keeps on telling me I should never deny my heart.”
   “Well, Ellie was always a full-blooded romantic,” he replied. He swigged some beer. “But sometimes love isn’t enough.”
   “No.”
Sunset, Tree, Lake, Reflection, Sunrise

They sat in silence for a while. It felt so right, to sit here on their flat rock, her hand in his, her body leaning ever so slightly against his. He smelled the same, the shirt he was wearing was one she’d given him years ago, the faded denim worn smooth and soft.
   “What’s he like?” he asked.
   She shrugged. He’s not you. “He’s nice. He makes me feel cared for, loved. He is proud of me, he wants babies and a mortgage—”
   “No one wants a mortgage,” he protested, and she laughed.
  “No, that’s true. But he wants for us to buy a house and make a home—together.”
   He nodded. “So he’s just what you want.”
  What she wanted was sitting right beside her. But what she needed…. “Yes.”
   He disengaged his hand, and for an instant she feared he would go. She clung, he smiled at her. “Swim?”
   She grinned. “Swim.”
  He had taught her to swim here. Two children growing up in the middle of nowhere and what did it matter that he was four years her senior when there was no one else to play with? And Johnny had spent a lot of time in their home, because his father was mostly on the road and his mother drank too much and so Mum stepped in, ensuring Johnny was fed and clean, that he had a safe place to sleep. Like having an older brother, she’d told Mandy, and it had been. For a while. Until the summer she turned fourteen.
   He undressed quickly. She followed suit and moments later they were in the water. They raced, he won—he always won. They returned to their rock and it was still warm, still bathed in sun. No words, just his gaze boring into hers.
   “Hold me,” she whispered. “Please, Johnny, hold me.” One last time, she thought.
   He enveloped her in his arms, and it felt so right. This was where she belonged, in these arms, with his chest hair tickling her nose, his hands travelling slowly—reverently—up and down her back, her bottom. She hid her face against him, tears choking her throat.
   “No.” He lifted her face. “No crying, Mandy-girl. Not tonight. Tonight, we make memories, you and I. Memories to carry us through whatever comes after.”
   “Memories,” she repeated, and then his mouth came down on hers and she cried anyway. So did he, and it was through tears that they kissed, that they touched and stroked. He lay her down on the warm surface. She held out her arms to him. Tonight, he was his, she was hers. Tonight was theirs. Naked need, naked bodies, and he entered her and it felt as right as it always did, as it never did with Simon. Oh God, what was she doing?

Sunset, Lovers, Dusk, Sun, Dawn, Evening

They lay close together afterwards. He pulled their discarded clothes over them and tucked her closer to him, sticking his nose in her hair to inhale her scent. He wished he had the words to tell her what she meant to him, how the news that she was getting married had flayed him. Well, maybe he had the words, but he wasn’t sure he had the courage—or the right—to tell her. She wanted stability, he was a restless sort, happy to tour the land and give concerts, desperate for weeks of isolation when he would write new songs. Not a life for his Mandy, he knew that. But still… He tightened his hold on her.
   “I love you,” he said.
   “I know. And I love you.” She nuzzled his chest.
   But sometimes love is not enough, he reminded himself bitterly.
   She sat up. “Maybe…” He could see the flare of hope in her eyes.
  “No. You made the right choice.” It killed him to say that. He cleared his throat. “He can give you what I can’t. I hope you will be happy with him. You deserve to be.”
   He, on the other hand, would never be happy. Not without her. But hey, everyone knew an artist thrived on suffering and heartbreak. 
Lovers, Couple, Love, Sunset, Sun, Beach

“Don’t go,” she whispered. “Please, Johnny. Stay with me. Don’t leave me again, don’t…” She began weeping in earnest. He held her close, rocking her from side to side until she quieted. At long last, she straightened out of his embrace, wiping at her eyes. “It hurts,” she said. “It hurt like hell two years ago, it has hurt since then, it hurts even more now.”
   “I know.” And tomorrow, she’d speak vows tying her forever to another. God, what a fool he was to come here and relive yet again the agony of leaving her behind. But they had tonight. For some hours more she was his, and he drew her close and kissed her until there were no words left in his head.

Wedding Dresses, Fashion, Bride, Veil

He had intended to leave at dawn, but for some strange reason he hadn’t. You’re as bloody masochist, he berated himself, stepping further into the shadow of the large willow that stood along the flagged path leading to the church door. She was eye-catchingly beautiful, his Mandy. His Mandy—for about twenty more minutes. Her veil lifted in the breeze and his eyes blurred. What was he doing, letting her walk out of his life? But it was too late now—had been too late for two years. She deserves better, he reminded himself. She deserves stability and constancy, she is no rolling stone—not like me.
   She was almost abreast the tree. Look at me, he thought. No, don’t look at me, keep your eye on your future path instead. But she did look. Her eyes widened slightly, she faltered for an instant. But then she took another step and another. Towards her future. Towards a life without him. Johnny couldn’t hold back a low “Mandy-girl” and then he fled.

Willow, Nature, Plant, Spring, Tree

She’d seen him the moment she set a foot on the path. A shadow under the tree, a familiar outline she tried so desperately not to look at—but did anyway. She heard him say her name and turned his way. He was already halfway to the dry-stone wall that encircled the ancient graveyard, moving so swiftly he stumbled. For an instant or two, he steadied himself against a tree before squaring his shoulders and walking away. She couldn’t bear it.
   “I can’t do this,” she said out loud. Off came her veil and she handed the bouquet to one of her surprised bridesmaids. “I have to…” She hurried after him. “Johnny!” she called. If anything, he increased his pace. “Johnny!” she screamed, kicking off her shoes. And then she was running after him, yelling his name. After all, some dreams are just too precious to give up on—no matter how fragile and ephemeral they may be.

Hands, Friendship, Love, Trust, Friends

© Anna Belfrage

Did you guess the song title?
Hold Me Now by Johnny Logan
(Official You Tube Video)

Inspired by Eurovision Song Winner Hold me Now, by Johnny Logan. Best song in the world to cry to in this humble 
writer’s opinion…


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history and writing.  Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
At present, Anna is busy with a new series, The Wanderer, featuring fated lovers Jason and Helle.

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds


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There will be another story inspired by a song tomorrow!


The Full List of Authors

December
2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica LainĂ©  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th CHRISTMAS BREAK
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud
31st  HAPPY NEW YEAR


 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required

19 comments:

  1. Oof. You had me worried for a minute. After all, Cathy DID marry Edgar Linton. I would never have forgiven you! I'm so awful at guessing the songs, I've started making up my own to go with the story - I was singing 'White Wedding' for this one :)

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  2. Well that had me blubbing over my morning coffee! Beautiful story Anna, thank you!

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    1. I blubbed while writing it - delighted to share tat emotion/experience with you. So lad to hear you enjoyed it!

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  3. Aw, there's lovely. Excellently done. Nope, I didn't guess.

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  4. Beautiful - I had a number of titles running round my head, bot not that one!

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    1. Glad you liked it. And seriously, how can you NOT immediately think o Johnny Logan's song?

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    2. I confess it had slipped under my radar, though I knew it once I'd played it. I meant to add in my first comment that I, as a member of the" macho male species" (!) can be subject to the odd tear here and there, especially when the writing is as enthralling as this .....

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  5. Eek! Anna, mistress of the heartstrings. And that song. Talking about spine-tingling – no, it went through the whole of my skeleton.

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    1. Yes, it is, isn't it? Tingling that is... So glad you liked it!

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  6. I very nearly asked Anna to rewrite this as I was in floods of tears when I first read it *laugh* ... perhaps I should have added a 'tissues needed' warning!

    I'm glad I've not made the clues too easy... *wicked grin*

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    1. Easy? *snorts* So far, none of your clues has helped me!

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  7. Much more fun to be on the road with a hot lover than married with a mortgage. I'm so glad she went for it!

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  8. Replies
    1. well, it was ALMOST very, very sad, but after crying my eyes out, I decided it needed a tweak of hope :)

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  9. That was heartwrenching! So very glad she came to her senses. You certainly made us earn that HEA ending!

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