Where The Grass is Always Greener : Chapter 1

D'Arcy flicked an imaginary speck of dust from the cuffs of his expensive and meticulously tailored shirt. He looked about him with disdain, observing as the menial ones scurried around eking out their living. Standing at the window of his luxurious bedroom, he looked down upon those lower beings with their grubby faces, grimy hands and scruffy clothes. Those men and women of toil and labour, who probably earned less in a month than he spent in a day on cigars. A clear line marked him and them.. a wall of wealth, success, opulence and luxury. They were on "the other side" of it. He smirked and sipped his morning cup of coffee, watching snow flakes drift lazily down on a cold gray December afternoon.

Jack D'Arcy was a hard-nosed businessman, a financial genius people called him. He knew where to invest and when to cash in. He was known equally for his charm and wit as for his heartless and fearsome takeovers of small, mostly family-owned businesses, cutting out the owners completely and transforming them into money making machines, but at the cost of generations worth of goodwill. He had made his fortune out of others' misfortunes and took pride in his rapid ascent from a small town, middle class boy with burning ambitions to a tycoon.

He lived in an apartment in one of the most exclusive avenues of the bustling city, simply called The Residency. The firm that built it specialized in catering to its high-profile clientele, providing its patrons the privacy and discretion they desired without compromising on the luxury that was their prerogative. The door that led to the foyer was unostentatious and plain, but the single gold band around its edges and the simple golden angel motif on the top right hand corner marked it out to the cognoscenti as the mark of the highest of high society. Noone could enter the pristine halls unless accompanied by a patron or one of the firm's own escorts who were trained to allow only those who were possessors of enough millions to be potential customers. It was from the window of his well appointed bedroom in this fiefdom of the wealthy that he now witnessed the early morning hustle-bustle of the world beneath his feet.

Down below on the street, a young woman hurried down the crowded footpath, colliding with several on her way to where two roads met on the corner right below D'Arcy's window. She looked anxiously around for someone, eagerly scanning the face of each man who came her way, each negative followed by a moment of disappointment and then hopefulness bounced back on her features. Her body was tense and she looked as though poised on the brink of something that was important beyond measure. She wore a simple gray dress that somehow managed to flatter her slim figure and bring a dignity to her bearing. On her hair was adorned a single blood red rose that seemed to bring a spot of colour to the otherwise dull, black and white pallete of the winter afternoon. It was the rose that caught D'Arcy's attention, and the woman that made him catch his breath...

A lifetime ago, D'Arcy had been Jack, a boy with dreams in his eyes and Mabel in his heart. They had grown up together, been to the same school, lived in the same neighbourhood. He had loved her and wanted nothing more than to spend his life with her. And then he discovered he could make money in a thousand ways. Greed overcame Love, and he moved from strength to strength, and never found to time to tell her he loved her.. and then he found she had become a stranger to him... He remembered the pain and shock in her eyes as he bulldozed her father's old bookstore to make way for his supermarket... but she no longer mattered to him and she had never forgiven him....

As he saw Mabel standing there, his love for her came rushing back. He wouldn't let her go again. Loneliness and longing bit him like a serpent, and he knew that no amount of money or success could heal the rift in his heart. The coffee cup slipped from his fingers and crashed to the floor as he rushed out the door and ran down the stairs. As he pushed through the gold lined, angel motifed front door, he saw her in the arms of another, a middle class young man, much like he himself had been a lifetime ago. Joy radiated from her face, her lips parted in a smile that held the warmth of a thousand suns even in the bitterly cold winter. D'Arcy sagged against the gilt-edged door, a moan escaped his lips and he felt his heart shatter in an instant.

And in that instant, he would have given all his wealth to have become that poor young man who held D'Arcy's greatest desire in his arms. His last thought before he slipped into unconsciousness was ... He wanted to be on The Other Side.

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