“There’s a gentleman I’d like you to meet,” announces my dear friend, Sara Bartholomew-McCreedy with a rustle of silk and wink of an eye.
I’m a young, childless widow, thanks to the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, and this outing is a rare treat after a year of mourning. They say “Missing in Action” is as good as dead, and since my William has been missing in action since that dreadful battle, he may as well be dead.
“Crystal Barton-Lane, listen to me!” Now Sara’s most emphatic. “He’s an officer of our age and station recently back from the war. Most pleasing to the eye, in fact. A friend of a friend of a friend. You know how it is. Not my type, but you’d like him. He owns horses and goes to the opera.”
Is she having me on? I roll my eyes. Sara’s at it again, trying to matchmake me out of social purgatory. The war has taken so many men of our age and social rank it’s hard to know where one stands. And those who have come back are often so traumatized I’ve all but given up any idea of finding a man to fill my dear husband’s shoes. Sara knows this, and still she persists.
We alight from the shiny motor carriage owned by Sara’s wealthy uncle who has offered both of us refuge in his sumptuous Bartholomew Hall until we find our feet, and make our way through the thickening London fog to the Savoy entrance. It’s 4 p.m. of a late fall afternoon. Darkness is setting in and we’re meeting this man ~ and one of these friend’s of which Sara has spoken ~ for tea at the Palm Court.
“Really, Sara, I wish you wouldn’t meddle in my affairs,” I turn to her, my annoyance on my sleeve. “I’m not quite at your level of joie de vivre yet. It’s only been a year and I still miss my William.”
Sara sends me a disarming smile.
“Crystal, darling,” she stops me before we enter the fine hotel and looks me straight in the eye, “it’s time to lift that dreary veil of tears and live. Live now! I don’t think William would want you to be moping around for him. You know how he loved life ~ the next adventure. I’m sure he’d want that for you.”
A vision of my handsome husband all decked out in top hat and tails that last night at Covent Garden and enjoying a fine performance of La Bohème makes me shiver. How excited he was about soldiering and leading a troop of his own to battle victory.
“Crystal! Snap out of it!” Sara’s voice brings me back to the present. “There he is …”
Through the amber vapours of a flickering gas light and beneath the lamppost a stranger emerges.
But he’s not a stranger at all … he’s my husband.
My response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday
This is the word bank prompt:
Fog – Lamp post – Veil – Top hat – Carriage
Thanks for visiting,
©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014