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by Plume
Rated: E · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #2081068
Love Story

Bea’s Journey By: Randa Gedeon

I remember it so vividly and yet so differently from the way he recounted it to me
when we were finally reunited.

Two months of finding freaking keys everywhere.
It wasn’t in my nature to use the ‘F’ word, not even this one, but there you have it; I was finding freaking keys everywhere I went during that time.
Keys under my shoes, on subways and near me on bar stool chairs. Keys of all freaking shapes, colours, materials and sizes. Keys hanging on top of garden gates.
Speaking of gates, the two-month key finding incidents were followed by a dream last night, one could even call it a vision of sorts. This type of dream didn’t surprise me anymore.
This particular dream started with a gate, far at first, then a close up of it; the same gate of course, somehow getting closer and more accessible, and then a golden key in the lock as the image became clearer.
I woke up from this dizzy but ecstatic, and my spirit led me to the hustle and bustle of Portobello road with its fragrant market stands and colourful second hand shops and antique sellers. I eventually headed towards the O café where I had a habit of ordering penne and a glass of house red. Only this time I ordered breakfast at 1pm instead.
‘Eggs on toast please, and a cappuccino.’ The waitress eyed me briefly and smiled.
A half-empty plate and a cold cappuccino later, all I could see in my mind’s eye was the golden key of the previous night’s dream. Looking up at the newspaper held high by the man in front of me, I paused fleetingly wondering at whose face was behind it.
As though in immediate response, the arms lowered the paper, revealing the face of a handsome man. It was a familiar face, but at the same time of course it wasn’t his, not Martino’s.
I would know his face anywhere. This was almost his double, although maybe less handsome. I had heard of and seen lookalikes of course, but this was uncanny. I would know my Martino anywhere and this wasn’t him. These were not his eyes and this was not his soul; just a mediocre imitation of his physical appearance.
I blushed and looked at my lap. I blanked as I stared down at my lace dress, not wanting my rushing emotions to give me away. My hand shook as I nervously reached out for my coffee cup to distract me from the memory of Martino and of ‘us’.
The stranger in front of me commented briefly on my breakfast and on how it looked wasted, since I had abandoned the fried egg eye watery and almost untouched, lost as I was in my reverie of the previous night’s dream of the gate and its golden key.
I replied to him as though in a haze: ‘I don’t like the egg yolk’, but all I could think of was the much loved face of Martino sitting at my white kitchen table a year ago, as we ate and stared at each other in adoring silence.
The stranger looked at me with a half smirk, I could almost hear him thinking: ‘what an idiotic remark’, in reply to my ‘yolky’ words.
I tried to ignore him as he paid and stood up to leave. I looked around at the wooden chairs and tables of the much loved café. As I watched the faces of the many people bustling around me, chattering, chewing, and clinking glasses, Martino’s face came to the fore of my mind at the same instant as the key of last night’s vision did.
My instincts told me that the key and gate were somehow symbols to unlocking the big secret which plagued Martino’s life.
I knew that the vision and him were linked somehow, I just didn’t know how quite yet.
I paid absentmindedly, stood up and left the cafe, gently shutting its door behind me, already missing its familiar scent of fresh toast and caffeine.

Little did I know that closing one door was leading me right to opening another.
I walked wearily for an hour and headed for the park.
Sitting briefly on a bench near my favourite flower bed, I was startled by a familiar voice.
‘Bea, Bea right? Long-time no see. It’s Grace.’
‘It’s been so long Grace, what a coincidence!’ I was completely taken aback at seeing her accidentally after so long.
‘I am doing some shopping and wanted to grab a quick coffee, do you want to catch up?’
‘Sure why not, I have an hour before my class,’ I hesitantly replied.
As we strolled towards the coffee shop counter we chatted about this and that, including my work routine and hers respectively. I had been having a few issues at work with a few colleagues and it was refreshing to be able to share them with a sympathetic ear.
Grace was the first to open the subject of Martino with me. I was hoping not to have to discuss him at all, but of course I knew that she would sooner or later.
‘So have you heard from my elusive relative since you two broke up?’
‘No nothing at all. It’s for the best anyway, it’s been a long time.’
‘I know, but he speaks of you often still, or maybe I should say sometimes.’ She paused, smiled then added: ‘You’re not the only one you know.’
Her final remark intrigued me.
‘I’m not sure I know what you mean. If you mean his exes, then trust me it’s not news to me Grace.’ I smiled to make my words seem less affected by her possible insinuations.
‘No, not at all, we haven’t been close like that for a long time. What I mean is that I too can feel what the problem was between you two; his trips, the distance, and his work commitments. I just wanted you to know that, and also that the whole family adores you. He does too of course, despite his mysterious adventures. I certainly have no idea where he goes when he travels, so basically hon you are not the only one. Bea, the fact that you and he aren’t together anymore doesn’t change how we feel about you; we are all still very fond of you and think of you as one of us.’
We parted ways amicably. Grace invited me to stay over for the weekend which surprised me since she had never done that before. I knew she and Martino had not been close for a while but I still couldn’t help wonder at her very unusual and surprising offer. The thought of staying over at their country house made me happy and nervous at the same time. I couldn’t help but wonder why now and if he knew about this, or even if he had been behind the suggestion himself since we had been apart for quite a while.’
A few days and a lot of furtive quick packing later I drove over to the O café and met Grace there for a quick bite before the ride to her country cottage.
‘How’s your week been?’ she asked.
‘Ok I guess, hectic, between the gym, my classes and the part time job at the film school, you know, a little and a lot of everything.’
The next few days were a dream. We spent time chatting, eating and walking in the nearby woods. The woods around Grace’s estate reminded me of my childhood at our own country house and brought back fond memories of playful and carefree times. We strolled lazily together alongside the quiet streams, our boots crushing the rustling red, yellow and green leaves below our feet. Grace was curious about my writing and film classes and asked me about my family.
We enjoyed an enormous meal together, cooked by Grace with a tremendous amount of loving care. We listened to music as well as relaxed in the living room flipping through some family albums. The scent of fresh flowers from her garden enveloped us till the sun set across the horizon.
Before I left and as I packed, Grace came into the guest room and leaned casually against the door frame.
‘It’s been fun, we should do this soon. You know..I don’t know if I should say this or not but, we always speak of you around family get togethers, you know about you and M and you being family too one day. Mom asked me about you the other day and we had a long talk about you too.’
This seemed to be a subject weighing on their mind as much as it was on mine at the moment. I looked out the window at the cross engraved on the tree outside. I had noticed it earlier and mentioned it to Grace. I stood staring at it for a while thinking about who could have engraved it there then zipped my carry on and smiled at her.
‘Well, you know, if it’s meant to be it will be. It’s either my destiny or it isn’t Grace. I try not to dwell on it too much. Martino and I, yeah it’s an immense love story but with all his crazy schedule and disappearing acts, I really don’t know if that would be an option for me and him. We’ve been apart for too long and broke up too many times, it’s just not realistic to think this way.’
I had the key dream again that night back home in my own apartment bed along with another even stranger dream of Martino having a conversation with Grace about me. I woke up to an email from Martino. It shook me but I read it as quickly as possible. It had been a while.
Skimming through it, the jest of it was a grey area as usual. Something about work commitments, a girlfriend abroad since he had travelled and another split up. The memories came rushing back; the phone call that afternoon long ago telling me that he couldn’t come back, that he wasn’t able to explain it further etc. It was his usual cloak and dagger act but which had also always felt genuine to me somehow. It had been a strange arrangement but sincere and loving nevertheless. What broke us up ultimately was the woman who had answered the phone that day a lifetime since.
That incident was clear in my mind as though it were yesterday. I had rung him whilst he was away on one of his mysterious work trips and a female voice answered the phone. When I had confronted him with it he had been evasive and that had led to our splitting up soon afterwards.
His life was uncertain that was the one certainty between me and him at the time.
The email pained me but I managed to fast forward, reading it till the end.
‘I am sorry Bea. Her and I are not together anymore. I am coming back. Can I see you?’ it read.

I wrote back and we got back together. That seemed inevitable to me at that time. I refused at first evidently, but months of him pursuing me and insisting on it led me to succumb to my weakened heart, to forgive him and to accept a trial reunion once more. Part of my weakness towards him stemmed from my happy memories of days gone by, spent together at our favourite seaside resort, where we had the happiest of times. We used to stroll barefoot on the beach, sand between our toes, salty air in our nostrils, breathing in the scent of nature.
One of my fondest memories was of him thanking me profusely for remembering to place his phone charger near his side of the hotel bed. He told me I was the sweetest most understanding woman in the world.
I foolishly accepted to get back to him once more. The next few months were difficult, trying to learn how to live with one another again. I wanted more of his time and to bring him into my world; to meet my family and start a new chapter on a new path with him, but he resisted as always. I knew his resistance was not because of a lack of love. His best intentions towards me had always been clear and his love had been my guiding light, despite his indiscretion.
The vicious cycle started all over again.
‘I have to leave again tomorrow. It’s work,’ he whispered.
‘I see.’ I answered wearily. It was our usual routine, I never asked too many questions and he never explained too much or gave details regarding his mysterious goings and comings. I had picked up the phone a few times and spoke to his colleagues but they were just as closed as he was when it came to work messages and I just didn’t want to know. We had a conversation about his work at the beginning of our relationship and I had stupidly agreed to stay out of his business because I was so besotted with him from the start.
Before he left, he mentioned our breakup a while back. I had bumped into him a few months after the dreaded day we split up and it wasn’t pleasant. He wanted to come back to that and apologise and explain but I wasn’t ready to discuss those excuses or even his genuine reasons all over again.
I generally asked very little of him and very few questions about his comings and goings during our time apart. I was just happy, for now at least, that we were back together again.
A phone call woke me in the middle of the night after I drove M to the airport. We parted lovingly as usual with very few words said. I thought it might be him and was slightly worried but it was Laura, his work associate.
‘Bea, hi, it’s Laura. Listen, I’ve asked Martino to send you a fax, some papers that will reach you by tomorrow morning. I am sorry to put you out. My fax machine is on the blink, but I need some info urgently and it’s very confidential. I can’t trust anyone else with this. Someone will be over to pick up the paperwork from you tomorrow to hand over to me. Please just pop it in an envelope and seal it. Thanks.’
‘Sure.’ The call surprised me, I had never been privy to any paperwork or info between them of any kind but I knew that Laura and M trusted me of course. I wanted to ask Laura more questions about the fax but I felt I couldn’t.
I slept badly that night. My covers were sprawled around the bed in the morning and I tripped over my bunny slippers and fell over my pillow onto the duvet on the floor as I stood up.
The fax machine was screeching out some strange sounds and I walked over there heavy headed from lack of sleep. Glancing at myself in the living room mirror, I backed away from my reflection. My baggy eyes needed caffeine ASAP.
With my ‘wake up sleepy head’ huge coffee mug in one hand, I shuffled towards the fax.
I picked up the papers and reached out for an envelope. As I did so and whilst thumping my coffee cup on the side table, one of the papers slipped out.
A photo of a very scary looking face peered up at me from the carpet. There was a caption below it with a long and funny sounding name. I didn’t think much of it and never thought of getting involved in M’s work before but my instinct prompted me to read the caption and I didn’t like what I saw.
Jeans and T shirt had to do, I had a long day of chores ahead of me, and my dresses no matter how much I adored them were not to be trusted for this hard day’s labour.
I had just finished stuffing the laundry in the washing machine as the doorbell rang.
‘Tweeddale Dee’, as I often referred to him the few times we had met, gave me his best smile as he came in through the doorway.
‘Hey you, so where is ‘Tweeddale Dumb’?’
‘Ha ha, very funny. Morning gorgeous. Got the stuff for Laura?’
‘Sure, wana come in for a quick brew?’ I readily handed him the papers.
‘No thanks, I have to get back.’
I said goodbye and watched him walk away. Their dress sense never ceased to surprise me, those striped suits and funny looking belts. I half smirked at his fading back as he moved further away towards the lift. By ‘they’ I meant Laura’s supposed body guards or lackeys or colleagues or whatever they were supposed to be. Their suits reminded me of old gangster films. Martino had a similar suit when we first met and I made him throw it away after a scene we had which ended in laughter.
I frowned down at the fax machine. That caption below the photo I had seen worried me. I itched to ask Martino about it but I thought better of it. It was a black and white photo of a stranger with a lot of scribbling at the bottom of the page. I frowned straining to remember the pencilled words I had half read.
A day or two passed by like lightning, and my thoughts kept drifting back to the fax Martino had sent Laura and to that strange black and white photo I had handed over to one of the ‘Tweeddale twins’.
My living room phone rang as I was carefully placing my empty breakfast dish and coffee cup into the sink.
‘Hey you, how is it going?’
‘Great thanks, how is your trip?’ I held the phone closer to my ear as I inspected the TV area which looked too messy for words, but elated at hearing it was Martino on the other end of the line. Looking at the living room objects, sprawled all around me as I spoke to him, distracted me from thinking about gangster suits and from worrying about faxes with location captions and strange photos and the likes. The most dreadful thing about all of it was this: I was certain that the hand writing I had glimpsed on the fax was Martino’s.
‘Good’. He answered.
I hesitated, but I blurted it out anyway although it wasn’t my habit to do so. ‘Listen M, that photo you faxed Laura.’
Martino interrupted me snapping so abruptly that I almost didn’t recognise his voice. ‘Beatrice, you know we never speak of my work, and I am not gona start discussing this with you now.’
‘But Martino, you did send it here and I couldn’t help seeing it. I know you trust me, but I have every right to know.’
He hung up first and I stood there devastated and in total shock. We had argued before of course like most normal couples do, but obviously the problem of his secretive work trips and sudden disappearances always hung between us like an unspoken promise of a doomed and tragic love affair. This time it had felt different though, and much worse because of his unexpected and extreme reaction to my furtive question.
I spent some time at my parents’ flat and it helped ease my pain and uncertainty. My brothers came over with their adorable kids and I played with them feeling young again. My mind kept drifting back to my phone conversation with Martino but I forced myself to pull away from it. That photo concerned me terribly. I remembered parts of it on an off in my mind’s eye and more so in time. Its content had also been a place, a time of day, a date, and more to the point, an arrow pointing to a specific background setting and location.
I longed to talk to my family about my concerns regarding Martino’s work and his secret wonderings but I couldn’t and I suffered greatly because of it. It was my own fault for accepting his relationship terms from the beginning, so I distracted myself instead with the usual pleasant daily chit chat with mom and dad and my siblings and relatives.
A couple of days later saw M come back to our flat late at night. I pretended that I was fast asleep and he crawled into bed without saying a word. He asked me twice if I was awake and I sensed remorse in his voice but I resisted till I could no longer do so.
‘Listen Bea about the phone call, let’s forget about it ok?’
‘I am sorry Martino, I can’t forget about it, I just can’t.’ He tried to speak to me and get closer, but I pushed him away. He mumbled something about having had an argument with Laura because he didn’t want to involve me. He had told her he didn’t want to send the photo to my fax machine. He repeatedly emphasised that this was the reason for the trouble between us, but I saw this as an excuse and as his usual way of wriggling out of the situation. It was his responsibility to open up to me about his life and not Laura’s fault at all.

Time passed and of course my feelings of anger and hurt subsided, especially when he surprised me with a trip to the country side which he arranged for us. We hadn’t had this time together for a while. The evening we arrived, we sat by the lobby fire place watching the flames wriggle like phantom snakes and we sipped our wine calmly. He had some work to do too, emails mostly, but we spent the night enjoying each other’s company in loving silence.
We both avoided the dreaded fax subject and things went well, but my instinct told me that we would have to have it out again soon.
We took a stroll after dinner and wondered around the grounds of the mansion estate hand in hand, silently enjoying the summer breeze and the scent of flowers after a downpour of rain.
I suddenly let go of his hand and faced him. ‘M, I am sorry but I have to know about this photo. People just don’t send each other black and white profiles of strange unknown men with dates and whereabouts captioned at the bottom. It’s just not normal. I know your work is ‘hush hush’ but I am very uneasy about this and terribly worried about you, you idiot.’
He stared at me straight in the eyes for a moment, then abruptly walked towards the ancient mosaic window of the ground floor hotel estate.
He smashed it with his fist and blood trickled down from his bruised fingers onto the wet grass, like red paint from a brush onto a green canvass. It was like a slow motion nightmare scene from a horror film.
I slowed my emotions, as my heart beat so fast it felt like it was going to jump out of my chest of its own volition.
M looked at me with a strange expression of shock and regret, suddenly realising what he had just done. He moved towards me but I pulled back immediately.
I couldn’t speak to him at that point and ran towards the hotel where I packed my things and called a cab immediately. Nothing he said would alleviate my sorrow. He tried to speak to me softly and comfort me with loving words and apologies, but as far as I was concerned the damage was done.
I knew I had made a decision then and so did he. Months of the same endless pattern repeating itself had brought me to the brink of my patience. I basically had had enough. His past indiscretion was one thing but this was insulting. If he respected me enough he would trust me and let me fully into his life.

I didn’t see him at all after that incident and I busied myself with work and family. I saw his relatives a few times - as they had become like my own over time - because of our mutual respect and affection for one another, but things were very different now. We all spoke of him as little as possible and I avoided the subject as much as I could.
The day before I left their home, where I had stayed over for a few days, they asked me about him again and I couldn’t help but mention a couple of previous dreams I had about him. It had always been like this with me and him; I often had happy sleeping visions of us together, but I also knew in time, and especially lately, that they were just pipe dreams.
I usually dreamt of Martino and I surrounded by flowers or even with me dressed in white as a bride to be. I spoke to his family about some of my dreams but not about all of them.
I woke up in a cold sweat the following day. I struggled to remember my night’s sleeping images, but it had been a nightmare this time. As I sat up in bed, I had lingering visual snippets of blood and a forest in my mind’s eye, but more terrible still, a residue of the most frightening image of all: one of the back of Martino holding a shovel in the midst of a dark patch of land.
I blocked my feelings and thoughts immediately and stood up. Shaking still, I went to get a glass of water.
I drove over to the nearby forest the following afternoon. I couldn’t shake the fresh nightmare from my mind and I had always followed my instincts, especially when it came to my dreams of him and of us. I parked at the edge of the foliage. I hadn’t been here for a while but it was familiar certainly, and definitely the setting from last night’s sleeping vision. I had always followed my inner voice of course, but the fact of this actually happening in reality - after ‘seeing’ it last night whilst I slept - shocked me nevertheless.
I saw him then, leaning over something in the setting sun, shovel in hand. I froze in both belief and disbelief. I had somehow known I would find him here but I also could not believe my eyes.
He stilled and turned. ‘Bea what are you doing here?’
Time stood still. I looked down to see the lifeless form at his feet. The face was familiar, the same one from his faxed photo. ‘What the hell is going on here Martino?’
I couldn’t bear to look down at the dead body any longer, as M covered the already rotting corpse with dirt.
I headed towards the forest trees and started walking away from him.
I heard his engine roar and turned to see him through his car window looking intently at me.
I walked away calmly from the stench of what I had seen.
All at once, the key finding incidents and dreams made sense. It all fell into place at last. I had discovered the mystery of Martino once and for all.
‘Bea, Bea, Bea’. The stinging wind carried his voice over to my retreating shape in the growing darkness of late afternoon.

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