Let’s Never Be Apart

by Digby Beaumont

Late afternoon, I’m sitting alone in the lounge of the Brighton Holiday Inn remembering Ed, how he was drawn to the dark side, even when we were kids, The Joker to my Batman, Lex Luther to my Superman.

As I drain my whisky glass, a woman in the doorway stares in my direction. Early forties maybe, dark business suit, low cut top, cropped hair bleached pure white. I check behind me. When I look back, she’s making her way over.

“Dean? Oh, my God, Dean, it is you.”

I start to say no, she’s mistaken, but she keeps talking.

“How are you? You look great. Love the beard. It suits you.”

She sits, green eyes wide, ash-grey flecks in her roots, and I try again. “I’m—”

“I had a weird feeling about today,” she says. She moistens her lips with her tongue. “So what are you doing in Brighton? You down here on business?”

I want to tell her: a funeral; my best friend; suicide. The thought makes me feel lightheaded.

She glances back at the doorway before giving me a little, lopsided smile. “So you didn’t give it all up and become an organic farmer, after all?”

I try to smile back. It comes out more a twitch of the lips.

Moving her face close to mine, she lowers her voice. “I always knew we’d meet again.” Her breath smells of tobacco and toothpaste.

I envy this Dean she believes me to be. Why did it end? I want to reach out and touch her hand, say I never gave up hope, in all the years—the dreams, the disappointments, the loneliness.

A waiter appears asking if we’d like something else.

This is where I come clean, I tell myself. Sorry, I’m not who you think I am. Like I wasn’t for Ed. A hero? I couldn’t save him from jumping in front of that train.

I turn to the woman. Waiting for me to speak, she places her room key on the table.

I picture the two of us sharing Pinot Noir, before leaning into each other all the way up to her room, where she’ll transform into Wonder Woman with me her arch-enemy Hades, holding onto bodies that don’t want to die—and for a time, at least, we won’t think of the darkness falling outside.

Digby Beaumont’s stories have appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently working on a short fiction collection. He has made a living as a non-fiction author for many years, with numerous publications, and lives in Hove, England.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Let’s Never Be Apart”?

    Years ago I’d been asked to address a conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. The organizers invited the speakers for dinner the night before. As I entered the taverna, a woman rushed up, calling me Robbie. “Oh, my God,” she said. “You’re here. Is it really you? After all these years.” And before I could stop her, she held me tight and whispered, “I always knew we’d meet again.” In the end, we did our best, sharing embarrassment, apologies, laughter even. Ha-ha, life. What are you going to do? Sure plays tricks sometimes.

    I posted an early version of Let’s Never Be Apart on the Zoetrope flash wing in 2009, receiving great reviews from highly talented writers such as Bonnie ZoBell, Kathy Fish, Lauren Becker and Randall Brown, among others.

    My best friend did kill himself. In 2003. I still miss him every day. More than ten years later, when I was working on the nth revision of Let’s Never Be Apart, Ed’s suicide snuck up and got in there while I wasn’t looking. Now it feels like it had been there, under the surface, all along.

    The title, “Let’s Never Be Apart,” I’ve always liked. I’m drawn to the narrator whose own life is such that he longs to come out with this line after the woman mistakenly thinks he’s someone from her past for whom she still has strong loving feelings. Ah, to be the object of such desire, isn’t that something we all crave?

This entry was posted in Beaumont, Digby and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.