Segments - 07 - Why He Started

01 - Meeting Her

02 - The Services

03 - Exeter Hotel

04 - Christmas

05 - New Year

06 - The Old Man

07 - Why He Started

08 - Cambridge

09 - Norwich

10 - The Party

11 - Millau

12 - Heading East

13 - Nice in Nice

14 - Making Progress

15 - Revelations

16 - Doubts

17 - The Connection

18 - Levelling

19 - Space

20 - Finale

Clem explains something to the old man that he's not told anyone else, not like this anyhow. Previously the explanations were to family, friends and occasional references on the blog. This time Clem is as honest as he can be to himself. Why? Because the old man is an old man, a stranger, not involved. These thoughts trouble Clem. He feels now is as good a time as any to put them into words, to a man who has no preconceptions.

Mandy. She was blonde, petite, confident and filled with life. He could not say she was pretty, there were far prettier girls, but she was attractive in her own way. The main thing he remembers is the life in her eyes. He'd not met the likes of her before. She had a zest for life that was as refreshing as ice cold cider on a hot day.

They'd been dating for a year then become a couple for another year. In that time they'd argued and fallen out, made up, been on holiday together, played around and been faithful. She was the first woman in his life who'd made him feel like he was truly alive both in and out of the bedroom. Passion, he recalls the passion in her ecstasy, her orgasms, her playful teasing and the everyday things, in just going out for the evening.

The old man nods to indicate he is still listening.

Then one day in her kitchen as the sun shone though the window and they dined on home made burgers she blew his house down. "Clem, you need to know I've been to see a doctor. I have cancer."

This wasn't just cancer, but an already well established liver cancer. Her recent weight loss was not due to her diet. Her back pain was not due to sitting on the bike for too long. Her tendency to easily bruise was not just one of those things. She'd known for 3 months. The doctors had given her another 6 to 12 months. There were options for radiation and chemotherapy but these were simply to extend her life at the cost of her comfort.

He'd just sat there. It was a most odd sensation. This was new. He'd never been through this experience before. Strangely he'd felt a tinge of excitement and novelty. He'd also felt sickened at the thought of her fading away and not being fun any more. Silly thoughts came into his mind. Oooh, he'll have to get a new girlfriend after she dies, cool. Damn, I wonder if she'll be able to come on the bike rally they've planned to go to in a few weeks? What time is it? I need to be home in time for Top Gear.

As he relives these thoughts he shudders. The old man simply looks at him briefly then returns his eyes to the road. He knows you are not supposed to feel these sort of thoughts, but he did, he doesn't really know why.

He'd made his mind up as best he could as the information span around in his head that he really ought to be there for her and see this through with her. While he did not really understand love he certainly knew this was the right thing to do, this is what is expected. I wonder, will we still be able to have sex, and for how long? In his mind's eye he'd seen her lying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her. He giggled to himself inside when he imagined rubbing her clitoris to orgasm on her death bed. She'd probably like that.

"Clem, I don't want you here for this."
"What?!"
"This is not you and your thing, I need you to remember me like I am today, I can't bear the thought of putting you through this"
"But...I...I should be here...I should be here for you"
"Listen to your words Clem, 'should', not 'want'. You don't want to watch me fade away and I don't want to see you watching me fade away."
"I...I want to"
"No, you don't. And I don't. I know you will not understand but I love you Clem. I love you because you of who you are. And you are not the caring bedside type. You're not a carer."
"I could be." He feels guilty.
"No, I need to do this without you. I don't want to hurt you."
"You're hurting me now."
"I know, but it's the lesser of two evils. I want you to travel like you've always talked about. I want to read about you in far flung places and smile. Live...live your life for me, live like you've never lived before, live and do all the things I won't be able to do. Do it for me."

The old man looks at him again, with no emotion or sign of sympathy in his face, then turns back to the road. Clem notices tears on his own face. He feels silly now.

"So what happened to her" asks the old man.
"I don't know." Clem goes on to explain the promise. She had made him promise on the day of his departure to never ever look back. To not ask after her through the blog or her family. He was not to read the obituaries or look her up online or research her. He was to put that part of his life into a box. As the tears roll down his face he realises today he's opened the box. He feels he's let her down. Again.

He let her down by letting the motorcycle go. She loved the bike and now it is gone. He'd let her down by not getting to any far flung countries. He'd let her down by not really travelling but becoming a bum who wanders around the UK. He feels he's failed today.

"You seem happy enough when you blog" say the old man.
"I am." He explains that overall he is enjoying his life. He has met some interesting people, seen some great places and done some odd things. However when he thinks of Mandy he imagines her lying in a hospital bed reading his blog wondering why he's not in Iran or Chile. He imagines her looking down from heaven tutting to herself. He does not believe, he still imagines, he then feels guilty.

"You're life is one big adventure compared to mine." The old man takes on a different style of speech, authoritative. "This is your life and your adventure, you have nothing to feel guilty about." The old man gives a comforting smile and a quiet "shhhhh". Cambridge is probably another half hour away.

Clem feels strange next to the old man. He's obviously a geek, probably somewhere on the Autistic spectrum and spends his time reading technical manuals. How come he is so insightful?