Now, I’m going to admit that this is a bit of a long post. But if you have a few minutes to spare than please do read on. The theme for this month’s Chatterbox is ‘Waiting Fulfilled’. And so below is a small story about a woman who is waiting for her husband and would rather not have ‘death by bench’ on her obituary.
And you may have noticed the new header of this blog. It is winter and I feel the need for warm wood and polar bears.
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She had waited for oh so long. Both for the train and for him.
Though, to be perfectly truthful, she had waited only two hours for the train. For the man on the train, well, she had waited much longer for him.
Three years, five months, two weeks and six days. And, if she truly applied herself, she could work out the hours and minutes as well. But she was quite done with applying herself and besides, maths was never her forte.
Oh, she thought, very well then. I may as well be truthful with myself.
It had been three years, five months, two weeks, six days, ten hours and- she glanced at her watch and moved her hand to catch the light of an overhead lamp- thirty-six minutes.
A long time. Too long, almost. But she often thought that it was too long. She had thought it too long when his car had driven off in a cloud of black smoke that heralded a need for a mechanic. She had thought it too long when his first letter had come a week later. When that first lonely month had dragged so unwillingly by.
And then there was that awful first year.
And that perfectly dreadful second one.
She shivered and pulled her coat about her. It didn’t help much. She was going to sit on this cold bench and wait for the train even if it killed her.
She hoped it didn’t though, she had much too much to live for.
And besides ‘death by bench’ didn’t have a nice ring to it.
Suddenly she stilled. Because-? Could she-? Was that-?
His train – his long delayed train was coming with an impatient huff and a piercing whistle. She could hear its approach.
It was coming. He was coming.
She stood up and began to pace, up and down. Up and down. Puffs of her breath showed white in the air. Up and down.
Here it came.
Standing very still, she watched as, with a screech of the breaks, the iron monster came to a stop.
(It wasn’t a monster, she told herself. It was a dear, dear machine that was bringing him to her. And that also made her wait for two hours in the bitter cold. Yes, it was a monster. A dear monster, but a monster nevertheless.)
Smartly dressed passengers dismounted. Bags and briefcases bashed each other whilst their owners took sharp breaths at the sudden cold outside.
She stood and waited.
And suddenly, suddenly he was there.
Tall, dark hair messy (because three years, five months, two weeks, six days and bother the hours later and he still forgot to brush it) and with those kind brown eyes glinting in the lamplight, he stood there. In front of her.
“Hullo Vivian,” he said.
“Hello,” she said staring up at him. He really had a marvellous chin, she thought irrelevantly.
He joggled his briefcase and cleared his throat.
“You look …” he started, and she wondered how he was going to describe her. ‘Wrapped-up Cornish Pasty’ she had mentally described herself this morning. Though if he said, ‘Wondrously Beautiful Beloved of my Heart’ she wouldn’t complain.
“… like …” he was fumbling for words. It was rather strange really. He had never fumbled for words. Not even on their wedding day when she had come down with a nasty cold and sneezed during his wedding vows. He had squeezed her hand and smoothly carried on with ‘through sickness and in health.’
She couldn’t bear it anymore. Three years and all those months and weeks and days and a delayed train were much too long to wait, so she did the sensible thing and flung herself in his arms.
He caught her and she didn’t hear the ‘thump’ of the dropped briefcase.
He drew back after a few moments, holding her at arm’s length (though, she noted that he held her quite tightly even then) and staring down at her. “You look,” he said. And stopped. Cleared his throat.
She nodded encouragingly, much too full of everything to speak.
“You look like home.”
“Oh,” she replied eloquently as their breath curled white and delicate together in the winter air. “How lovely.”