This is for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt. Inspiration didn’t come immediately for this one. When I started the story, hesitantly, just setting the scene, I didn’t know what tale the character was going to tell. I let her tell it in her own way, and she did.
We used to meet here every evening, just as the sun was going down. If my father had known he would have disowned me. If your father had known…I don’t suppose he would have cared. Your honour wasn’t at stake after all. The park was well kept in those days, and families would crowd around the bandstand on fine Saturday afternoons. Often we would see you, your mother’s arm tucked in yours, and you would tip your hat with a polite smile, but the twinkle in your eye was just for me.
The evenings were ours. Bats flitted back and forth between the shadows and the light in the sky. The moon lit our way through the crowding rhododendrons, and you would take me in your arms, so firm and strong, and we would kiss and make promises, hot and fervent.
That was before the war, before we could be wed, before we had time to know one another. It was a time of dreams, plans and unknown futures. I never recovered from your death. They told me I should be ashamed, that the menfolk were dying in their thousands to protect us, and I had no business crying. But I cried. I cried so much Father wanted to have me locked up. In the end, nobody had the time to concern themselves with me. When Fred was killed, Mother retired to her room and never came out. That I floated around the house like a wraith was neither here nor there. The death of a brother, a son, an heir was a tragic loss. That I was still alive was almost too hard for Mother to bear.
I still come to the bandstand though it has been silent for so long now. I still wait for you to find your way here from that field in Flanders where your life ended. Perhaps you never will. Perhaps your spirit was dispersed like your body and you wander among the stars now, looking for me and waiting. I watch the stars on summer nights and try to make out your face, but the glitter gets in my eyes, and the tears blur the sky. They say I was mad. Perhaps I was. Perhaps this is what happens to mad people; they can never let go. The wheel goes round and round beyond death, beyond longing.
I part the rhododendrons and climb the wormy steps to the bandstand. The bats flit back and forth, and the stars glitter like the light in your eyes. Perhaps this will be the evening you come to me.