The girl’s name was Dawn and I had done her a disservice as far as her age was concerned - she was only 23. She lived in the flat above the Newsagents where she worked and as far as I could tell, she didn’t have a boyfriend. Her parents lived on the other side of the town, and she had a younger brother who was away at University. I haven’t worked out why she was working in a Newsagent, particularly when she has a brother in higher education, but I will get around to that soon. She worked a long day – from 7 in the morning till 7 at night – but was always cheerful and looked as though she enjoyed the job. Her boss, Mr Carter, a man in his 60s, and his wife also worked in the shop, but Dawn was the one who did most of the hard graft. In the week I watched her, she went out once with a girlfriend to the cinema, had half a lager on the way home, and was asleep before her head hit the pillow – which was the case whether she went out or not; this girl worked hard.
I decided there and then she would do for my boy. With that decision made I went to work on Sean to go back to the shop. It was some distance away from the flat, but one day, when I knew the sun would be shining, and she would be breaking for lunch, I managed to get them both in the park I had noticed before. It was then quite simple; as they closed in on each other from opposite directions I pinged the bell on a young lad’s bike, they both turned while walking, and collided with each other. God I am good!
Sean was the first to speak. ‘Sorry, I thought I was about to get mowed down.’
Dawn laughed. ‘So did I, but I was thinking more by a bike, not a man!’
I do believe Sean blushed. ‘Are you OK?’
‘Yes, don’t worry, I’m fine.’ She pushed her hand through her hair as she spoke, and the gesture, though simple, seemed quite erotic.
Now I had primed Sean before the collision to expect someone he knew, and right on cue he said:
‘Don’t I know you?’
She looked at him quizzically. ‘I don’t think so. Mind you I meet a lot of people. I work in a shop and sometimes it’s hard for me to keep track of who’s who.’
While this was going on I was chanting, ‘Newsagent, newsagent’, and again Sean must have got the message.
‘Yes now I remember, you work in the Newsagents. I was there last week moaning about my sister. You had the decency to listen to me, and you cheered me up.’
‘Oh yes, I remember, hadn’t you bought her some cleaning stuff for her flat?’
‘That’s right. Boy, I’ll never make that mistake again, I can tell you.’
They both laughed, and then she said she had to get back to work. Bless him; Sean said exactly what I would have said.
‘Oh, OK then see you about.’
I despaired. ‘No Sean, NO. Ask her her name my lovely boy, quickly before you let her go.’
Then just as she turned away, he did.
‘By the way, what’s your name?’
‘My name? Mmmm, I don’t normally tell strangers my name.’
‘We’re not exactly strangers. You’ve already met me before today – and given me good advice. Anyway, if we had collided while driving, you would have to tell me your name. Wouldn’t you?’
She smiled. ‘Good point. I’m Dawn, and who are you?’
‘No honest, my name is Sean.’
She looked at him with a half smile on her face, ‘Sean and Dawn. A bit of poetry there. Well Sean nice to have met you.’
‘And you. He held out his hand and she laughed again as she took it.
‘Er, do you come here often then?’
This time she laughed out loud and this time I was sure, Sean blushed.
‘I think my Grandad used that line to chat up my Grandma at the local dancehall, but yes, I do come here – if the sun is shining. I have my lunch over there on that bench.’ She pointed to one of the wooden park benches. ‘Now I really must be going. Bye Sean.’
She walked off and he stood there with his mouth open, a smile slowly spreading across his face. As she reached the gate she turned to give him a wave, and his face could have lit up the darkest of nights.
The next day my window was open at 6 o’clock. From the very start I was planting seeds in Sean’s brain to go and have lunch with Dawn. I knew the weather was going to be good and there was a fair chance she would be in the park. As I spent the time talking to Sean, I listened in on Dawn, and now and again I went off to see what Kathleen and Jess were doing. All were fine and eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, lunchtime came and Sean was on his way. This was exciting stuff, and yes I know I could have leapt forward an hour to see what happened, but I wanted real time. He had made an effort in his turnout and looked well when he entered the park, but Dawn wasn’t on the bench. He looked a bit forlorn, but I reassured him she was still working in the shop. At the same time I patted him on the shoulder, and do you know what – he turned around! I’m sure he felt it; he brushed his shoulder as if something had touched him and I immediately called,
‘It was me my Darling boy. It was your Dad.’
I had never felt so positive, and I wished that Liz could have been there to see me. But nevertheless, I had done it, I had touched my boy.
‘Hello Sean, fancy seeing you here.’
We both looked up, and there she was. Now my eyes could have been deceiving me, particularly after such a momentous occasion, but you know she looked lovely. Her eyes were brighter, her hair was brushed, her lips shone, but there was more than that, almost an inner peace that flowed from her.
Sean smiled, and blushed. ‘I was just walking by, and thought I would have a rest in this beautiful sunshine. Were you following me then?’
Dawn laughed as she sat down ‘You should be so lucky. Where’s your lunch?’
‘Ah, would you believe me if I said I ate it.’
‘No I wouldn’t. You haven’t brought any, have you?’
‘Let’s just say it went out of my mind. But you go ahead, I’ll watch.’
‘Sounds like I’m a sideshow to gawp at! Here, you can have some of mine. I would hate to see a grown man drool - anyway I’ve got enough for the both of us.’
As they ate there was a silence between them, but not an awkward silence. It was as if they knew they had all the time in the world - and maybe they had.
I remember when I met my second wife Tracy; I fell in love with her within two minutes of talking to her. It wasn’t anything I did or she said, it was just love, and there was a calmness, mixed with this powerful emotion, which swept the two of us along. That first time was enough to tell me I would love her for the rest of my life, and you know, I did. Sad that that love wasn’t able to keep us together but, as the song says, “Sometimes love just ain’t enough.”
I knew it would soon be the end of the day for me, but I wasn’t worried, Sean and Dawn were alright together, and they didn’t need me interfering. Sean had some big questions to answer; about being in prison, a job, his prospects and the like, but I would help him as much as I could. For once, I didn’t think it was going to be just me doing the helping, I had a strong feeling that Dawn would be there as well, and her influence would be even stronger than mine.
As they were arranging their next meeting I heard Joseph saying the session was coming to a close. My window faded away and I, metaphorically speaking, patted myself on the back for a job well done. I floated over to where Aqeel and Hui were chatting unable to take the grin off my face, or stop myself from telling them of the day. Life was good – or should I say Death!