February 07, 2009

stories trapped in time

My favorite part of The Commons is imagining the stories behind the photos. These are photos that are pretty much unclaimed. They have very little, if any, history left with them.

So I like to make up stories for them. For instance....

Eleanor, as I have named her, is very distraught over having to come to this horse race with Andrew. He doesn't really make her happy, but he is handsome. All her friends are jealous of her relationship. They flaunt over the dresses he buys her, the places they go, how handsome of a couple they are.

Eleanor's heart belongs to another. He left her 2 years ago. He kissed her goodbye as he boarded the ship to fight in the war. He cut a piece of her red curls to keep in his pocket. He handed her a beautiful letter that she still to this day carries in her handbag everywhere she goes. He promised to marry her when he returned. He promised that time would pass quickly and that before she knew it he would be walking down that gangplank again to sweep her off her feet in a big embrace. His face was kind and full of excitement for the future. She had laughed at his joy and felt exhilarated by the knowledge that his love was for her. She waved her white gloved hand slowly as the boat pulled away. When he was far enough away not to see, she let the tears run down her face. She stood on the dock until the boat slowly slipped out of view. Then she sat down on a wooden box by the water's edge, not able to leave the spot that he had left her.

Her heart lept when his first letter arrived. He was in Paris. He told her of all the beautiful buildings and bridges. "I so dearly wish that you were here with me, my Eleanor, to share in this city of beauty. My heart is dreaming of you every second." She wrote back praying that he would actually receive his letter.

His letters slowed. Time stretched between each one. Each time another arrived, she rejoiced in the fact that he was still alive and safe. She held each letter next to her chest and closed her eyes remembering their last embrace.

Then one day, she was in town getting her mail at the post office. She quickly flipped through the letters, but there wasn't one from him. She gathered the stack and headed out the door. A couple passed her in the doorway and she over heard their quiet voices saying,"yes, it was just last night that they were informed. The officers came to their door. So sad. He was such a lovely young man." Her blood ran cold as she turned and looked at their retreating figures. "Who?" she was barely able to vocalize. The couple turned and realized who she was. They gave each other a knowing look. That was all she needed. She didn't want to hear them speak his name. She stumbled out the door and gasped for breath, leaning against the glass windows. The sun was so bright. The day so normal just a few moments before.

It has been 13 months since that day. She's not sure how, but life went on. And now she found herself with Andrew, knowing that she will never love him. She will never love anyone else. Every time she is with him, she feels desperately lonely. Her heart breaks again each morning as she wakes up from the dream that her love is back in her arms.

So this day, she does her duty. She dresses in the beautiful dress and buckle shoes that he bought her just for this day. She chats and smiles at his friends and their wives. She reaches out her gloved hands to greet new acquaintances. She sits and cheers for the horse he has bet on. She lays her hand on his arm as he talks sweetly of her to the couples that pass by them.

But inside, her loneliness is suffocating. She longs for the moment that Andrew drops her off at home and says goodbye. She longs for the moment that she can pull out the letters again. She can see his handwriting again. She can imagine his voice reading his words of love to her. For in that moment, the loneliness will fade. And love will fill her broken heart. She will fall asleep with his name on her lips and his face in her dreams, hoping to never awake again.

ps...this post is for my sister who asked for more stories like I used to tell her when we were younger. Thanks for the suggestion, Sis!

psss....the picture above reminded me of the couple in this picture. Doesn't Andrew look like Billy Zane?


stephanie said...

GOOD GRIEF!!!!!! YOU SHOULD HAVE WARNED ME PRIOR TO READING! i'm feeling like i'm having a panic attack now!!!! that's too heavy for my monday a.m.!!!!!!!! okay...i'm going to try to breathe now....and it WAS an excellent story...just not what this military wife wanted to read!

cottage girl said...

Sorry Steph!! Thanks for saying it was a good story. Coming from you - the best storyteller I've ever met - that is a HUGE compliment! Makes me wish for our old times in your dorm room and stories of your trip to Hawaii with your grandparents. I can still hear your laughter when you described the windshield wipers on the dry glass.
I MISS those days!

Katie's Story said...

Thank you for telling me another one of your stories. I loved reading it! I've missed them!