of physics if time goes forward or back—but it makes a hell
of a difference to us if the past isn’t dead.
Bad enough I believe my dead wife contacted me, but now I’ve involved Clare, who was a source of temptation during my marriage.
I feel like Thomas Hardy, the brooding writer who wrote endless poems about lovers’ triangles with one party being dead—namely his deceased wife.
Yeah, totally appalling, but real.
Still, I know what I saw and if the woman wasn’t Elaine then she was her exact double—and she drove off in the same make and model of car we owned ten years ago.
Yes, it’s completely improbable and I probably should never have involved Clare, but I’m short of friends at the moment, having alienated everyone I knew by being depressed and an alcoholic.
I can call myself high-maintenance, and joke about it, but it’s more like no-maintenance and if Clare had any sense she’d abandon me and run, but that’s not who she is.
On the day we chose for Clare to meet Elaine’s look-alike or ghost it turned out she had picked a time when the woman was in a hurry for a job interview and had to run.
But Clare did find out the woman’s name—it was Elaine.
“So, where does this leave us?” I mused. We had met as planned in The Slye Fox pub to assess Clare’s impressions.
“Well, at least we know you were not hallucinating,” Clare said brightly. “Obviously the woman, whoever she is, is real.”
I was still dubious. “I just can’t get over the fact that her name is Elaine—that’s just too implausible to be a coincidence.”
Clare winced. ”Look, I know this is frustrating, Paul, but we just can’t leap to conclusions. We made some progress today. Maybe I can drop by on the weekend and try to get more information.”
“Yeah, but what would that prove? Hell, she drives the same car we used to own—talk about spooky things at a distance!”
“Do you have another suggestion?” She sighed dejectedly.
“Actually, I do. I’ll drop by tomorrow and pretend I’m your husband and follow up on enquiring about the previous tenant. That way I’ll be able to judge for myself if it’s Elaine or someone else.”
A look of concern crossed her features. “Do you think that’s advisable—going by yourself?”
It was the first indicator that maybe Clare saw through my attempts to appear sober and in control.
Maybe I wasn’t “the same” as she said I was when she met me after five years—maybe she saw through my act and saw some subtle tell-tale signs of an alcoholic trying bravely to put on a face of normalcy.
I felt my spirits sink.
She must have seen the look on my face and thought she offended me.
“It’s not that I don’t think you’d be able to handle the situation, Paul," she hastened to explain, "I’m just genuinely troubled that there’s something weird going on as you said—and what that is exactly, I have no idea, but I’m concerned for your safety.”
I could see the real distress in her eyes and knew she was telling the truth.
“Look, I’m touched you’re worried about my welfare, Clare, but I can’t go on another day with this torment. I promise you this, if I feel any danger I’ll get out as fast as I can. I’ll phone you and keep you posted. I promise.”
I reached out and grasped her hand to reassure her and as soon as I did, I felt a surge of passion course through me.
It not only surprised me, but shook me.
I know she felt the same thing too. I saw the dark surprise mirrored in her eyes.
I quickly withdrew my hand and changed the topic, but it was unmistakable—there was real chemistry between us.
I knew that longing—it was the same passion I felt for her when my wife was alive and Elaine's death didn't remove it.
On the contrary, my current situation only increased the attraction and need I add?