(I truly meant for this to be Flash Fiction, but the story just developed. Sorry about the way – over word count.)
Grandma June huffed at Natalie, her granddaughter visiting her at home.”You’re not getting any younger, you’re thirty-eight. You can’t barely have babies anymore!”
Natalie rolled her eyes at Grandma June,”Gran, I’m an elementary school teacher. I like going home and not having to worry about kids.”
June sighed,”It was that man, you were supposed to marry. He’s a thief and stole your heart; I’m right aren’t I?”
Natalie ignored June’s question. She hated when her Grandma or anyone, talked about Christopher. She’d never admit he was her one.
He hadbeen since she was in grade ten and Christopher an attractive senior in high school. It was when he had first asked Natalie out. They’d broken-up, having had incompatible lives with Christopher away at university soon after.
Then, seven-years-ago, they’d ran into each other and started talking and dating again. Natalie had convinced herself this was finally it. Sadly, a few weeks before the wedding, Christopher had disappeared; the memories were agony for her.
Two-week’s later, Grandma June called Natalie up to invite her to a wine and cheese night she was hosting for her neighbours. She had tried to decline but June was adamant Natalie attend.
She arrived at her Grandma June’s surprisingly lively wine party, in jeans and a white t-shirt. She had barely bothered to apply makeup as Natalie had come from the gym and was worn out.
“Oh you came,” Grandma June said excitedly, approaching Natalie as she let herself inside. She hugged June and kissed her cheek, as June poured Natalie a large glass of red wine and filled her plate with bread and cheese. She winked at Natalie and left her alone in a small sitting room to rest before joining the other guests.
“Natalie?” A deep voice said. She turned on the sofa towards the sitting room door. Christopher’s voice shocked her, she had almost doused herself in red wine. His familiar timber filled Natalie with great pain. She peered up at him feeling raw, as if he’d only left her yesterday without explanation.
Tears began dripping down Natalie’s cheeks; she was crying and couldn’t stop herself. Christopher immediately sat down on the sofa beside Natalie and pulled her close; he wiped her tears away with his thumb. She tried to jerk out of his arms, but he wouldn’t let her move.
“I’m not letting you go, ever again,” Christopher swore.”I can’t explain much about why I had to leave you, only that I didn’t have a choice.”
Natalie shoved him hard, “You have nothing more to say, nothing at all?”
Christopher was noticeably upset, “I told you I worked as an IT consultant. But I could never tell you or anyone who I worked for until recently. I worked for Special Forces in the army and I was called out to a job. It’s the only thing I can’t about. The job lasted years, and I wasn’t allowed to contact anyone. We saved countless lives, but it was awful what I did to you and being without you. I’m sorry.”
Natalie rubbed her swollen eyes, “You’re a liar Christopher. You could’ve mentioned something, anything. What do you want now? To stay for a while and then leave?To rip me apart again?”
Christopher buried his face in his hand, before gazing up at her: “I’m out now Natalie. I swear to you I work for regular businesses now, nothing to do with Special Forces or the army. I’ve no more secrets other than experiences of war and blood. I came back here for you, I even moved into a house on your Grandma June’s street. I hoped somehow, you and I could be together again. I love you.”
Natalie made a sound of frustration. Emotions of both anger and feeling relieved assaulted her. Despite her anger at Christopher, Natalie knew inside, there would never be another man for her but him.
To Christopher’ surprise, Natalie moved to sit in Christopher’s lap and be closer to him, to breathe in how delicious he smelt.
“Marry me now and we can do whatever celebration our families want later. I’m still mad at you Christopher but you’re it for me. I’ve always loved you and always will. If you can be with me and never leave me like that again, I can forgive you.”
Christopher nodded at Natalie, saying: “I promise.” He held Natalie tightly and kissed her lips hungrily.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the sitting room door and Grandma June walked in, a smile on her face. June’s boyfriend Nigel was with her and so was the local United Church minister.
Natalie looked at Christopher, “Did you do all this?”
Christopher shook his head, squeezing Natalie tight and kissing her cheek. He pulled out a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring set from his pocket. He slid the engagement ring on Natalie’s finger, and Grandma June handed Natalie a ring which had been her Grandfather’s wedding ring.
June smiled at Natalie and Christopher, a gleam in her clever blue-eyes. All was at it should be, she thought as her and Nigel witnessed her granddaughter’s wedding ceremony.
The Octelle, created by Emily Romano, is a poem consisting of eight lines using personification and symbolism in a telling manner. The syllable count structure for this verse is 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, and the rhyme scheme is aa/bb/cc/aa. The first two lines and the last two lines are identical.
It had been 2 months since Ann had been at work as David’s Assistant or had been David’s girlfriend. It had been 2 months since Ann had found that awful letter that Cameal the receptionist had placed on the park trail for Ann to find and believe that David had written. ” 2 months,” Ann murmured aloud. She rummaged through her purse looking for a particular object.
It was a platinum ring with a pear-shaped diamond from Tiffany’s. She adored this ring. It was the engagement ring David had given her when he had proposed to her all those months ago. Yet she had run from him, afraid to trust him. Afraid of a little receptionist who had seemed to her the ideal young women, the women David should want.
Ann was 33-years-old now and not in her 20’s anymore. She had the tiniest little wrinkles appearing around her eyes from squinting and smiling. Her skin did not quite hold that youthful and baby-faced glow that those in their 20’s had. But she wasn’t old. Far from it her life was just beginning.
After leaving David, Ann had needed time to think. So she had taken her vacation time, 6 weeks plus two weeks from the year before and David had not objected. She had taken off and done what she had always wanted to do as a 20 something. She had gone to Europe and visited France, Germany, and Britain.
She had seen so many beautiful Cathedrals, places where you could feel God’s spirit and the spirit’s of the Saints, humming in the air in a peaceful reverent tune. She had been shopping at too many expensive boutiques in Paris and all over France. She was a well paid Executive Assistant and she had saved her money for so long a little shopping didn’t hurt. Not a few Louboutin shoes, Dior Dresses, and some lingerie that David would love to see her in, that she felt terrific in — La Perla and some brands she did not know.
Ann planned to go back to David but she had just needed time to think about their relationship, about their future. She didn’t want to wait long to get married with girl’s like Cameal in the world ready to spoil one’s plans. Ann didn’t care what her and David did as long as a few close friends and family were at the wedding. Ann also wanted a dog and sometime soon, little one’s to play with the dog. She had such big dreams.
She stepped off her flight out of EIA into Edmonton, into the cold Alberta winter. Ann wondered if everything would be okay. Crossing her fingers she drove home, not to her condo, but her and David’s home. She dropped most of her luggage at the door and grabbed her purse and her carry on and went up the stairs only to find that at 5 am David was gone, probably already at work. She wasn’t sure if she should stay but Ann didn’t really have much of a choice as she hadn’t slept in hours. She slipped her ring on her hand and fell asleep a top the covers of the bed. She hoped David was okay.
David massaged the temples of his head and ran his fingers through his short dark brown hair. He was one of the partner’s at the law firm he worked at. He owned part of the company and he missed his Assistant like crazy. Where was Ann now, he wondered? She had emailed him now and then with little pictures of her doing things in Europe, with a croissant, below the Eiffel Tower, By Buckingham Palace, at some church somewhere in Germany.
2 months were such a long time for Ann to be gone away from him. and away as his Assistant. Ann’s filler at work was so slow and all over the place. She was no Ann. He was getting behind at work and to top it all off that little whore Cameal had accused him of sexual harassment that day she had chased Ann from his home.
David loved Ann. There was no question when it came to her and Cameal that there was no competition. Cameal was some immature girl. He had explained so much to HR and and it had been tough to convince Blanche the head of HR that he hadn’t done anything to Cameal except place the letter she had written to Ann in her inbox to show her he knew what she was up to. Blanche had sympathized with David and said Cameal had been getting complaints left and right about her work. She had been a good worker but now she just seemed to flout everyone except David. Blanche found it curious that she would all of a sudden turn on David.
David had told Blanche everything that had happened between him, Cameal, and Ann. Blanche knew of course that David had a relationship with Ann and there were no rules against office romances but HR liked to be informed if it was serious. He was set to get a new Assistant anyways, and Ann would move up in the office after they got married. If they got married? Was that possible still?
Blanche assured David that Cameal had crossed many boundaries with different men at work and that she would be ‘taken care of immediately’. David was not in trouble, Cameal was no longer a threat, and David figured he would take the day off and go home and sleep. He hadn’t slept much since the harassment accusation and the last picture Ann sent, a smile on her face, as she took a selfie on the flight home. Maybe she came to my place, our place, he thought, hopefully.
Ann awoke to kisses on her neck and face. She stretched and smiled even though she knew she looked bad, makeup all smeared, and jet lag showing under her eyes. She moved her head back to receive more kisses. She dreamt it was David and he smelt so good, citrusey and woodsy like his cologne. She moved her hand up in this dream to stroke David’s cheek and felt the stubble there, moved her hand up further felt his soft hair and then the frame of his glasses. He must be tired, she thought, he never wears glasses.
She didn’t protest as dream David slid her out of her jacket and shoes and under the covers of the bed and perhaps it was then when she was snuggled beside him that she felt for real this time, his breath on her neck and continued little kisses.
“Your back Ann” David rasped “your really hear, for good?” he wondered aloud. She turned around and opened her eyes so she could see David. Between her thick lashes she saw his dear face and began to trace it with her fingers, “for good” she whispered. And they both slept the sleep of the dead that day, David’s finger tracing the platinum band of Ann’s ring as he fell asleep.
Cameal was in tears. Life wasn’t fair. She was fired. HR had not believed her harassment claim about David calling it bogus and insulting to David who had been very kind to Cameal given the circumstances. She had received 6 months severance and been told to pack up her things at her desk. She did this as she wept and regretted having ever met David or that ugly Ann. Fine. Go ahead be with her David, she thought. You two deserve each other. And they did.