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by George Gordon, Lord Byron

So, we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

This is a short piece of fiction inspired by the Byron poem noded above - I first heard of it while studying poetry from an anthology during my AS English Literature course at college, but I was quite stunned to actually hear my teacher's interpretation of it, as it seemed... wrong. My teacher kept dwelling on the idea that Byron's persona no longer felt love for his companion and wanted to end the relationship - I however interpret the poem as being more of a call-sign to settle down, and accept that the initial euphoria at the beginning of any relationship had gone away but the persona still felt as strongly in love as ever.
Either way - this is inspired by how I read the text. Please enjoy.

Anna crumpled up the blue wrapping paper as she finished unwrapping her last present. It was a silver bracelet that Richard had been forced to observe countless times whilst walking past the jewelers’ in the town-centre; he’d taken the hint quite subtly. Richard smiled softly – she wasn’t one to act fanatically upon being spoilt, and this suited Richard just fine. So long as her reaction was genuine and sweet.

“Honey, it’s gorgeous. I don’t know what to say.” She stared at the silver with a look of awe, then into his eyes. He kissed her delicately on the lips, and held her head against his.

“I still love you, dear,” he whispered closely to her ear. She pulled away from him, and looked into his eyes, and grinned broadly.

“I love you too, sweetie!” she jived, “This’ll go so well with my new dress, I can wear it out tonight!”

Rich had hoped this wouldn’t happen, but too late now – no point in procrastinating. His smile wore down slowly to a dubious frown.

He rose to his feet slowly, and walked over to the window. A cool breeze was blowing through the house, so he closed to window shut. It was surprisingly cool in comparison to how the weather had been throughout the summer, but summer was all but over now - the leaves had already begun to fall from the trees and the overcast sky painted the sky a deep lush red.

Richard shut the curtains tight, and lit the lamp in the corner of the room which glowed gently against his face.

"I thought maybe we'd stay in tonight." The room fell into an awkward silence..

"But honey... it's my birthday. And we always go out on my birthday.".

"Yes, normally we would, but see I was going to cook for you." Silence filled the room again. "We don't have to go out to make it special. I thought it'd be nice to spend a night in for once with my girlfriend. Plus, you know we're hardly raking in money these days.".

"Is this all it's about? Money?" Anna looked frustrated. "It's my birthday, I would have thought you might have tried to make it special for me.".

"Anna... it can be special. We don't have to go out to a club or go to a restaurant for you to enjoy yourself. Surely if we-".

"I don't believe you sometimes," she barked, "you know that? Sometimes you're so selfish, I thought maybe you'd look past money for once seeing as it's my birthday. All I wanted was to enj-".

"No, shush darling, okay?" He was getting agitated. "It's not the money... I thought, well, we go out somewhere almost every week and I thought perhaps you'd appreciate a night in for once, just a quiet night in. For once." Richard tried to put his arm around Anna. She backed away, disgust written all over her face..

"You have no idea how to treat a woman, do you?" Richard's face became thunderous. This wasn't how it was supposed to go.

"Honey, in fairness I've been out with you, what, 4 times in the last month was it? And we did the same thing every time, go to a bar and I'd have to carry you home. I thought perhaps this time we'd stay in." He needed to make his opinions known, but not offending Anna was the main obstacle. Anna drew back at his remark..

"You used to love going out with me. We used to have fun together. You've changed, Richard, why don't you want to have fun any more?".

"No, you.. you're missing the point. I... " he paused for breath. "I thought perhaps we could start to settle down. You're 26 today, right? We've been together for nearly 4 years and perhaps it's time we cooled it off a little.".

"I can't believe you're being so horrible to me. On me birthday." Anna's eyes becamed watery. "I don't... even want to look at you right now. I'm going to see Hannah. I'll be back later." She wiped a tear from under her right eye, and walked into the hallway. She put on her jacket and her scarf, picked up the keys and sat in the car. Anna turned the key, expecting Richard to come to the door offering his apologies. Instead, Richard slumped into the kitchen and pulled the small box from his pocket. He rubbed his fingers through his hair a few times and wilted down into the dining chair, leaning heavily against the table. He heard the car pull away from the pebble driveway. Rain had begun to trickle down the window of the conservatory. He opened the box and looked breathlessly at the ring as he pulled it from its casing.

How could this have happened? He thought after 3 years of appeasing her needs week after week that the time would have been right - he'd have won her over enough in order to be allowed to take it easy, start a family, perhaps? Maybe when she got back later they'd make up. Maybe he'd ask her then. But surely he couldn't. Everything he'd wanted had fallen apart in minutes.

He still loved her - more than ever in fact - but the exhiliration was gone. He'd have thought, by now, she would have realised too.

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