This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll be here tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” she pouted. “I’ll be gone. I’ll find some nice young man and go away with him.” She smiled and fingered the necklace of beads that he had put round her neck. “He can play with these,” she said.

“You just wait and see what I do to him then.” He tried to look fierce but it wasn’t in him; his mouth was too broad, his eyes too warm, and the laugh lines too prominent. “I’ll gut him,” he said. “I’ll kill him, I promise you.”

“Yes of course.” The laughter she had tried to hold in came tumbling out, silver and golden as he had called it. “I believe you.”

“It’s just that I’ve to fly tonight,” he said. “Or I’d be able to come tonight, but I can’t.”

“It’s OK,” she said, and then the devil in her kicked in again. “Just remember...tonight you’ll be flyin’ and I’ll be cruisin’ and this time tomorrow I’ll be over the hills and far away, you just wait and see.”

“Yeah, and when I come back tomorrow looking for you?”

“If you come back tomorrow...if you haven’t found a girl of your own by then...”

“Thanks – I already have a girl of my own, and if you don’t wait around tomorrow I might just go to her.”

“That’s settled then?”

“Or if I don’t, and you’re gone,” and he made his eyes very wide, “then I’ll find you. Like in those terrible films where the killer catches up with his victim twenty years after the deed.”

“I’d enjoy that. I’ll be in bed with him and you’ll jump out of the cupboard with a dagger. The perfect death. Some excitement in my life, at last!”

“Will you wait?” he asked her then, his eyes serious. “I’ll come, and when I do, will you be waiting for me?”

“Of course I’ll wait.” She smiled and let him kiss her hair and watched him walk out to the waiting car, and then she ordered another Bacardi.

I’m still waiting,” she told us. “He didn’t come the next day, though I waited for him until I was furious. Then I began to worry. And the day after that he still didn’t come. Finally I got through on the phone and then I found he had crashed into the sea in the night. They never found his body, I was told.” She smiled wearily. “And I was lucky to be told that much, because I wasn’t family. Seven years ago today, and I’m still waiting.”

“Waiting for what?”

“I don’t know...I tell myself he’s dead, but I told him I’d wait. I suppose I’m still waiting because of that thing I said, stupid though it sounds.” She shook her head. “There’s a space by my side that only he can fill, that only he could have filled, and I suppose I’m not happy with the thought of anyone even wanting to fill it.” She fingered her necklace, which several of us had been eyeing. It was only of beads but went wonderfully with the colour of her skin and eyes. “I’m still wearing this,” she said. “Seven years ago he gave me this, and I suppose they’ll declare him officially dead now.”

“You haven’t wanted another man since then?”

“Of course, but it’s been all superficial. You know,” she said, “I saw on the TV today, about another plane that crashed, and the pilot was killed. They showed the tail, sitting in a field. That’s what they always show, you know – the tail, sitting in a field. I kind of notice that sort of news.”

“Isn’t it time you moved on?” someone asked.

“I could, but I don’t want to. You don’t understand–“ her eyes widened and she looked past us at the door. I remember how the hair at the back of my neck rose at the look in her eyes. “There he is,” she said, rising. “After all these years. I knew he would come!” With a glad cry she rushed past us to the door.

We turned. The evening breeze twitched the curtain aside and showed us the darkened garden.

We went out, and we called for her. We waited around outside for a while and then we went in again and thought she would return and then we thought hard things about her for making us look for her outside with the gnats and the mosquitoes. Little by little we began talking of other things, and the evening picked up again.

Only, she never came back.

Afterwards, some of us swore they had heard an aeroplane engine. That’s as may be; I never heard any such thing, so they might have imagined it. And if they did hear it, well, the air force station’s not all that far away.

It is perfectly possible that the memories drove our friend mad and that she’s wandering, dazed and incoherent, somewhere, and one or other of us will find her or come across news of her. Or perhaps she decided she’d had enough of us all and simply moved on, leaving no forwarding address. It’s even possible she had some kind of accident and lost her memory and even now is in a psychiatric facility somewhere.

All that’s possible – all of it and any of it. All I can say is that none of us, after that evening, has ever seen our friend again.

Oh, and there’s one more thing. One evening, when I was just drunk enough not to care too much what I was doing, I called her cell-phone number. Not the number everyone knew; that everyone had tried already, and failed. No, I phoned the private number, because only she and I had known that one. I had no thought that anyone would respond, and I was faintly surprised when I heard the phone at the other end even ringing.

And then she answered. Even though I was drunk and I had not heard her voice in over a year then, I recognised it at once. “Tomorrow,” she said. “But tomorrow...never comes.”

Then she hung up, and I could not contact her again.

Of course, there is yet another explanation. They, after all, never found his body. He survived, and, after seven years of hiding away for some reason, he came back for her. She actually saw him, and they went away together, and are now very happy.

But, somehow, I don’t think so.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2009

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