A Feeling Of Uncertainty

A feeling of Uncertainty
She turned in a smile, 'I'd better be getting back to the library, you know how mother likes to get there, early.'

'Yes —' he replied sadly. . . . .

A feeling of uncertainty made her question her decision. Was it just her mother being overprotective. She knew deep down she wanted their blessing, no matter what. It had been nearly seven years; she began to ponder since she had started working at the library. Every Saturday, her mother would always make sure she was there to walk her home, even during the winter months when the night came early, to ensure she got home safely.

In the summer months, she enjoyed the freedom of walking home alone. However, the last few months had been fraught with her mother unexpectedly turning up after work. Occasionally when she was not outside waiting, she would appear rushing out of a shop in the high street, always with a pleasant smile of relief, followed by a mumbling of coincidence which lacked conviction.

She knew full well, it was never a coincidence and that due to her coming home later than usual, her mother had become suspicious. Mathew, who was a few years younger than her, would have to walk a few steps behind, and only when they were confident she was not going to appear would they join as one. At first, Mathew thought it was exciting, but she knew he had grown frustrated by not having the chance to say goodbye to her correctly. She was beginning to doubt her mother’s irrational behaviour.

 

A Feeling Of Uncertainty

They had become more daring in their desperate desire for one another, and in the evening, she would sneak out into the garden to meet him. Mary had become increasingly concerned about her mother’s inconstant behaviour and realised the risk they were taking.

His marriage proposal had somehow made her feel complete and more comfortable within herself. She was not afraid of her feelings anymore and wanted her parents to share in her enjoyment. Mathew was kind, understanding and very patient. However, it made her think carefully about whether or not she was doing the right thing, or if there was a selfish, very selfish side to her mother, she had not realised.

A feeling of Uncertainty, part two of the short romantic story; An Inconstant Heart

– A feeling of uncertainty –

 

‘Wait up!’ Mathew called after her.

‘Oh, sorry,’ she laughed, ‘I nearly forgot about you.’

‘What! So quickly? Well, that’s just nice, that is.’ He laughed sarcastically back.

‘You know, mother says boys are free to do as they like, but girls can’t because in the end they have children an end up living a life of servitude.’

Jee’s! — Sounds like I’ve got my work cut out then?’

Instantly, Mary put her arm around him, ‘You — most certainly have,’ she chuckled, ‘What time?’

‘It’s up to you — say around five?’

‘Make it about six-thirty, just to give us time to get in the door.’

The day was glorious; everywhere they looked, there were bright colours of contentment. Couples strolled arm in arm as children ran about them. It was something she always envied, the joy of having a little family and someone to share her every step.

‘What shall I do? — ring the doorbell and introduce myself? Mathew asked, a little less confident.

‘She’s doesn’t bite, you know.’ Mary insisted, ‘I shall come out and meet you at the gate. We’ll go in together.’

‘I’m not afraid, you know. I’m just a little uncertain of what to say.’  He paused reflectively, ‘I mean, it’s not like they know me or anything.

She drew him a little closer, ‘I know you’re not scared,’ she replied in a quiet, suppressed laugh. ‘It will be fine; we’ll have to tell them we knew each other at school.’

 ‘Come on hurry up! Otherwise, she’ll get there first.’

 

If only she could be sure that once her mother had met him, everything would be fine. Although it began to cross her mind that maybe it would be better to introduce him before announcing they wanted to get married. In time she would gradually come around to the idea and realise he was not like other men, and hopefully grow fond of him.

‘Let’s make it seven o’clock instead, shall we?’ She said in the spur of the moment.

They had walked over the lush green verge and were about to get onto the shingle path when a middle-aged couple pushing a little girl in a wheelchair came down the path towards them. He held her a moment, waited until they had passed, then whispered, ‘You, don’t think we’re rushing this a bit, do you?’

‘What makes you say that?’

‘Well, it’s just you seem a little — on edge.’

It was not long before they reached the gravel track leading up to the railway crossing, where she knew Mathew would take a keen look over at the boatyard, which runs up to the railway line, on one side. His dreams of owning a yacht one day always fascinated her, considering he could not even swim. She quietly waited until they had reached the turnstile at the railway crossing, allowing him the opportunity to fantasise about becoming a sailor, before she replied.

‘You might be right; maybe I should try and talk to mother first, soften her up a bit.’

 

A quick note by the Author:

A writers, greatest reward is knowing the enjoyment a reader gets from his work. There is always a feeling of uncertainty until he receives a review. Your comments are of great importance in helping me improve my skill and improve your enjoyment. Your comments will be much appreciated and be of great value.

Thank you for your interest, Andrew.

a worried look of concern

 

An Inconstant Heart

 # A Feeling Of Uncertainty

Original short story by A I Moffat

Illustrations by justanemotion.com

©All rights reserved justanemotion.com 2021

Imagery

The first image is by Lian.

Illustrations by Annaliseart.

Photo of a boy by Puplicdomainpictures.

 

 

An Inconstant Heart

Book Cover for An Inconstant Heart, romantic short story

An inconstant heart is thrown into an array of breath-taking joy and excitement, only to be quenched by a mother’s overprotective nature. A formidable twist of events slowly unfolds when she shares the news with her parents. Unsettled by her mother’s reaction, she soon realised all was not as it seemed—a short romantic story by A I Moffat, full of emotion.

 

 When a whelm of emotion causes palpitations of one’s heart. 

Together they stood under a willow tree in a glorious array of pale green; the heat of summer had caused them to seek shelter and, most of all, privacy. Mathew looked curiously at her smile, then up at her enchanting, almost bewildering gaze, he was thinking adoringly.

In a shallow subdued voice, Mary smiled at him, ‘It’s not fair that we should have to meet like this, in secret.’

With an attentive flicker, the boy replied, ‘I know.’ Then he pulled a small box from the pocket of his jeans and added, ‘That’s why I’ve bought you this.’

‘Oh, my God! — It isn’t? — Is it?

 

Book cover for An Inconstant Heart, a romantic short story by A I MoffatHe watched her sudden, almost hysterical glow of excitement, ‘If you’ll have me?’

‘Oh — Mathew,’ she responded in a fading breath, her eyes fell then rose in a sudden heartbeat, ‘you know I will.’ Her inconstant heart seemed to fluctuate with joy and trepidation. The thrill of it taking her by surprise until she looked into his adoring, child-like eyes, ‘B—b, but,’ she stuttered, ‘what about mother?’ As his gaze slowly fell in a shallow gape, she tenderly whispered, ‘You know she would never allow it.’

Instantly the boy knelt on one knee in the subtle shades before her. His dark fringe lay exposed to a streak of direct sunlight, which made the depths of his eyes sparkle mischievously. ‘I’ve been thinking — we could elope — run away together.’

Mary was a little taken aback, then the boy offered up the ring, ‘A diamond!’ she gasped, ‘I never expected a diamond.’

An Inconstant Heart

Carefully her hands reached down and cupped his open hand; then, slowly, she eased herself down on one knee. Her eyes seem to purr in awe at his delicate desire, his wanting, ‘I can’t, Mathew, it’s not fair on you.’

The silent pause of emotion bound them in the same wanting desire, magnified by the glow of the weeping willow. Until the boy announced in defeat, ‘Then, I’ll ask your mother and father if you can marry me.’

As if accepting his staunch response, her eyes lightly closed before she drew herself up, drawing him gently with her, ‘You know, she won’t hear of my getting married.’

‘I know.’ Mathew whispered, ‘I just hope she will listen and realise how much I care about you.’

‘When — when will you ask them?’

‘Why not tonight.’ He said with a look of surprise.

Mary gently folded his fingers over the small blue box, ‘Until, tonight — then.’

He seemed transfixed by her delicate commands to his proposal. It felt as though she had, in some way, decided their fate. Never before had he felt this presence of belonging; it made him feel as though they were somehow already married.

She turned in a smile, ‘I’d better be getting back to the library, you know how mother likes to get there, early.’

‘Yes —’ he replied sadly.

 

page divider for An Inconstant Heart by A I Moffat

 

 

An Inconstant Heart

Original short story by A I Moffat

Illustrations by justanemotion.com

©All rights reserved justanemotion.com 2021

Imagery

The first image and featured image is by Stocksnap.

Illustrations by Annaliseart.

 

A Sense Of Reasoning

A Touch Of Love, short story, book, modern story

A tentative touch of love has stolen all sense of reasoning and, Joe finds himself struggling to accept reality. Has the relationship born from a tentative indication of compassion reached the end? Can Emily ever make the boy understand, or will Joe’s utterance of love change everything? A mere tentative touch can evoke a sense of reasoning.

 

A Sense Of Reasoning

It wasn’t a mistake, she told herself. Things happen for a reason; he had given her so much, more than just his affections. She couldn’t allow him to think it had only been a mistake; without him, she would never have found herself. No – there was something about the boy, something so unusual it hurt. She couldn’t allow herself to weaken – not now. If only he could understand that it was hopeless, that they had no choice. It would be a living hell for both of them, and that was the last thing she ever wanted.

Joe lifted his head, ‘You still love him, don’t you?’

‘You know I do,’ she replied sharply.

‘I mean – you want him back.’

‘Joe, please – I want to be with you, but there isn’t any future for us. It just wouldn’t work.’

The boy turned and started to make his way back along the grass verge towards the small wooden bridge; they had crossed earlier.

Emily quickly jumped up and called after him, ‘Where are you going? – Joe!

He continued carefully along the slippery bank. ‘Why should— she care anyway.’ He hissed to himself, ‘and anyway good riddance.’

She continued to yell after him to wait, but the boy had created an image of her that closely resembled Medusa, and he was eager to make his escape. Now, he could only hear the sound of serpents repeatedly lashing at his heels; it just won’t work.   A sense of reasoning page 2 of A Touch Of Love, short story, modern story

When he reached the small incline leading up to the bridge, the repetitive crow of a pheasant fleeing suddenly caused the boy to stop. He hesitated, turned, and looked across the tenuous layer of mist floating a foot or so above the brook. He was almost sure he had heard her cry out, but not as before. Instinctively, the boy started to make his way back, and it was not long before he heard her cry out again.

Just where the brook turned towards the clearing, Emily had slipped and was struggling to remove bramble shoots stuck to her clothes.

‘Now look! – What you’ve made me do.’ She moaned angrily at him.

‘It’s a good job you’ve got yer woolly hat on.’ He smiled.

Ouch! Whatever were you thinking, rushing off like that?’

That’ll teach yer; he thought as he bent down and started to unhook the spines.

‘How am I ever going to explain – Ouch! – Careful – how I got a wet foot to me mum, when I’m supposed to be at work in a dry – bloody office?’

Quietly the boy went about assisting her up onto her feet, then began brushing off the bottom of her coat.

Just – leave it,’ she sighed heavily, ‘it’s my foot, I’m more concerned, about. Come on, help me get over to the bridge.’

Slowly the boy slid up around her waist, tucking his shoulder firmly under her right arm. Finding it all a little amusing took a deep breath and asked after a small cough if she was ready before taking the first step.

She felt ridiculous; it wasn’t as if she’d broken her foot or anything, but Joe being Joe, was making it into something more than it was. She sighed heavily in defeat.

The boy insisted he would go first when they reached the small incline, his earlier amusement had gradually worn off, and now he looked upon her as a young maiden in desperate need of being saved.

Emily noticed a slight glint in his eyes when he reached out to her, ‘Well!’ She exclaimed, ‘you’ve certainly found this quite amusing, haven’t you?’

In a crease of a smile, he insisted, ‘No! – Here – quick take my hand.’

‘Joe Johnson, I swear one of these days . . . ’

‘There – you’re safe now,’ he interrupted with a touch of bravado about him.

Emily hopped straight over to the handrail and immediately went about taking her shoe off. She called over to him for some help, and the boy was quick to wave his hand out in front of him as he bowed before her.

She rolled her eyes as he knelt, then tapped his head with her shoe, ‘Now arise Sir – Joe of Brooksfield and ring out my precious, bloody sock.’

He looked up in a smile as he removed her sock; he laid it to one side and then gently began to rub some warmth back into her foot.

‘You weren’t a mistake, Joe. It always was meant to happen, I’m sure of it. And – I’m only trying to protect you.’ She felt his firm but tender touch and thought of how attentive he was for a boy. ‘I’m sorry for being so horrid today, Joe.’

‘How is Charlotte going to know what you should do? He asked whilst tightly twisting her sock.

‘Well, she won’t – but she can help me sort things out, you know – with me mum,’ she paused a moment in thought, ‘I need to tell her I’m pregnant.’

Joe looked up with raised eyebrows, ‘Have you told Charlotte then?’

‘No – I need to tell her too.’

The boy smirked, ‘Well, rather you than me,’ he drew a deep breath. ‘There, all done now hand me your shoe.’

‘You know I can’t tell them the child is someone else’s. They need to know the truth.’

Joe looked up in dismay, ‘Push – then.’

‘Oh Joe, it’s hopeless they’ll never let us alone, ever.’

She placed her hand on his head to steady herself, then continued, ‘They’ll know it’s your brothers,’ she insisted, ‘so – where does that leave us?’

‘But you said . . . ’

‘I know!’ she was quick to stop him, ‘but – I just wasn’t thinking straight.’  Joe, I can’t risk losing my best friend, especially not now, don’t you see?’ She winced, ‘they’ll all blame me for making Steve run off with that tart,’ her tone sharpened at the notion, ‘Oh yes, he’ll love every minute of it. And what about me mum – Joe, I’m having a baby for Christ sake! I need her more now than ever before.’ Emily shook her head, ‘and what about you, he’s your brother – they’re going to go mental, especially now. Don’t you see it’s hopeless?’ She turned slightly as the boy rose to his feet, ‘I can’t let you go through all that, Joe, not now.’

‘Emily – please!’ he pleaded. ‘Not now? – What do you mean?  –  Not now?’

‘He’s finished with her, that’s what.’ She replied in a huff, then quietly added, ‘Steve phoned me last night — he wants me back.’

Joe suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders, ‘What – What did you say?  Steve, phoned you?

‘Yes, but I didn’t speak to him. I was with you.’ She could see the fire in his eyes, ‘Me’ mum took the call,’ her eyes faded from him. ‘She told me this morning. Joe, you’re hurting me.’ A few moments elapsed, then in a more desperate tone, she shouted, ‘Joe ! . . . You’re hurting me!’

Almost instantly, the boy recoiled, turning away from her, his head shaking in disbelief.

Emily moved up behind him and wrapped her arms around the boy, ‘Oh, Joe . . . I’m so sorry.’ She allowed the weight of her to rest against his back, ‘you poor, poor fool.’

‘Emily . . . what’s happening to me?’

‘Nothing, darling . . . nothing.’ Her eyes slowly closed against his trembling frame.

After a few moments, the boy gradually turned to face her, ‘I’m so sorry – Emily.’

Tentatively she looked up at him, ‘Oh Joe, what are we going to do?’

It crazed him; he looked at her now wanting. She seemed different, fragile, delicate almost. It felt as though she were giving herself to him. No — No, he found himself repeating, he didn’t want this; he wanted the warmth of her, the woman. Then softly, she kissed him on the lips.

Emily was tired of the boy’s constant drain of affection but now caught sight of his inner strength, she so desperately craved. She watched his scrutiny fluctuate across his brow, her eyes flinching with every ripple begging almost in anticipation.

With a sense of reasoning, Joe looked down at her again. Instead of searching for her love, he pulled her close.

 

A touch of love Page 3

 

A quick note by the Author:

As a writer, the greatest reward is knowing the enjoyment a reader gets from his work. There is always that feeling of uncertainty until he receives a review. Your comments are of great importance in helping me improve my skill and improve your enjoyment. Your comments will be much appreciated and be of great value.

Thank you for your interest, Andrew.

a worried look of concern, a sense of reasoning

 

A Touch Of Love

Page 2 / A Sense Of Reasoning

 Original short story by A I Moffat

Illustrations by justanemotion.com

©All rights reserved justanemotion.com 2020

continue

 

 

 

 

Imagery

Photo of a boy at the end was by Puplicdomainpictures.

 

First mystical image of a beautiful girl; ArtTower

 

 

By A Mere Accident

By A Mere Accident, Book Cover

By A Mere Accident – was first published in 1904 by the author E Nesbit, an English author and poet best known for her children’s books such as; The Railway Children, The Story Of The Treasure Seekers, and The Woodbegoods.  A consequential utterance caused by a mere accident could change his life forever. Although a questionable chance encounter leads to a dramatic change of events, this short story has a definite twist. With the addition of some illustrations, and only a few – slight – changes to enhance a more modern reading experience, we hope you enjoy this short but delightful tale.

By A Mere Accident

Her fresh, fair face glowed like a pink rose between the dark lustre of her sables and the frame of soft hair which repeated, with the softness of an echo, the sables’ colouring of mingled brown and black. The white, wintry sunshine struck through the railway carriage window and made jewels of her blue, Irish eyes. Railway rug and Gladstone, muff, and handbag were grouped about her. On the blue cushion at her side lay a sheaf of papers and reviews freshly reaped from the bookstall. On her green cloth lap lay a great bunch of violets.

By A Mere Accident, book cover

“They will be companions,” said the man who stood at the carriage door. “Don’t let them talk too much, or they will bore you.”

“Could violets possibly bore one?”

“These might if they did their duty and spoke of me.”

She laughed, but she did not look at him.

“Your boxes are all right, and your bicycle’s in the van at the back, and here is your ticket. You are sure you prefer solitude? Your aunt will regret having allowed me to see you off, and your mother will tell me that I ought to have secured for you the travelling companionship of at least one tabby.”

“I prefer the violets.”

Here the guard locked the carriage door, the man stood leaning his arms on the window, and passengers passing along the crowded platform scowled at the possessive set of his shoulders.

A jar, a whistle, a flag waved, and the train began to shudder and to move. The man kissed the smoothly gloved hand that lay on the window and drew back. As he did so, another man came up the platform running with great strides, caught at the handle of the door, shook it, and as it resisted, leapt on the step of the carriage, amid the shouts of porters, and was borne out of the station clinging to the carriage door.

“The door’s locked,” she said from within.

The man on the step thrust a bag through the window on to the seat and felt in his pocket. Then he moved a couple of feet past the carriage door, unlocked it with a railway key, stepped into the carriage, and closed the door after him.

“That was a near thing!” he said. And now, for the first time, the fellow-travellers looked in each other’s face.

His mouth grew stern. The pink faded from her face, and a greenish pallor crept up to the blue eyes.

You!” she said.

He looked at her critically — raised his hat without speaking, and busied himself with the straps of his bag. From this, he took a book and in it read sedulously, never raising his eyes.

She watched him by stolen glances, always met by the defence of his drooping lids. The lids were broad and white, and she knew well what manner of eyes they covered. Eyes mocking, disdainful, yet capable of a rare tenderness — besides which the consistent kindness, the open worship of other eyes seemed hardly worth the having. A handsome man for the rest — big and broad-shouldered, and with the masterful air beloved of dogs and servants and women.

Grown bolder, she watched him now no more by fleet, snatched instants, but steadily, as the train rattled and swung in its gathering speed. She looked at the firm hands that held the book. A year ago, those hands had held hers; she trembled at the memory of their touch. She looked at his lips — firm, smooth, pale lips, set in a thin line. A year ago those lips . . .

It was at this moment that he raised his eyes and looked at her. A hot blush covered her face and ears, and neck. He looked at her for one brief instant — a faint amusement in his half-closed eyes — and resumed his reading.

“Oh, don’t read!” she said desperately. “The train doesn’t stop for hours. Surely you won’t keep three hours’ silence with an old acquaintance just because . . .”

He laid down the book at once.

“I beg your pardon,” he said courteously. “You were so well provided with travelling companions that I feared to force the conversation of another on you.”

His glance rested on her papers for an instant and — for a longer instant — on the violets.

She laid the flowers on the cushion beside her.

“I am going to be married on Monday,” she said abruptly.

“Christmas Day,” he said, smiling. “A thousand congratulations. A curious day, though, to have chosen.”

He chose it,” she said, “and I could not . . . ”

He chose it? He makes the most of his privileges. And so you are to be Mrs. . . . ?”

“I am to be Lady Leamington,” she said.

“You are going to marry him?” The scorn in his voice stung her like a whip.

She raised her head proudly.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate,” she said and took up the Nineteenth Century.

And now it was he who watched her, with a gaze so fixed that she felt it in every nerve. Suddenly he shrugged his shoulders and moved to the seat opposite hers. She drew back her skirt as if from contamination. Then he spoke.

“Of all the virtues, I have always supposed reticence to be the most admirable, as it is the rarest. I have striven to practice it. Therefore, when you broke off our engagement, I did not seek to justify myself. Pride may have been for something in my silence also — I scorn to deny it. I own that my pride suffered when I found that you could throw me away at the first word from a stranger.”

She made a movement to speak, but he went on: “It was foolish, I admit; but, you see, I thought you loved me. It would be best if you made allowance for the other delusions that followed on that. The point is that I was not going to defend myself since you — who ought to have defended me — if you had loved me, I mean, of course — set yourself as my accuser. But that’s all over, thank God! I can now feel a sincere, if slight, interest in your welfare — as an old friend, and I think I ought to tell you the unpleasant truth about Lord Leamington, your fortunate bridegroom.”

“I wish you wouldn’t talk like a book,” she said. “If you want to abuse my future husband, do it in plain English.”

“I will,” he said. “He told you that he found a girl in my rooms at midnight and that her arms were around my neck. You asked me if this were true. I admitted it. You asked for no explanation, and I gave none.”

No explanation,” she began angrily, “could have . . . ”

“No — I know, but now it is different. I can’t let an old friend marry that man in ignorance of the facts. He had arranged to call for me at twelve; I had an article to finish, and we were going on to the Somersets’ ball. At about a quarter to twelve, I opened the door to a knock. It was not Leamington, but this girl. I knew her very slightly. She had lost her last train to Putney, Peckham, or somewhere — would I help her? It was like a scene in a play, don’t you know. I was Discretion absolute — left the door open — gave her wine and biscuits and proposed to charter a homeward cab for her. Then came Leamington’s step on the stair, and at that, as at a signal, she flung her arms around my neck. I should feel like a hairdresser’s apprentice telling you this, but I know now why it was done. It was Leamington’s last cast for you, and he threw the double six, confound him!”

She looked at him with shining eyes.

“Is this true?” she said. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“You never asked me.”

“It is only your word against his . . . ”

“After a few years of married life, you will be better able to judge of their relative values,” he said, leaning back in his corner.

She lifted the violets to her face — the cool freshness of them was like a child’s kiss.

“Charles,” she said softly and threw the violets out at the open window.

He smiled. “So he did give you the violets? And you believe my word, and not his.”

“Charles,” she said again and reached out a timid hand towards him.

His face grew stiff and set.

“You understand my motives?” he said coldly. “I could not see any old friend married to a liar and a blackguard without a word of warning.”

“I was only — I wanted to shake hands with my old friend — to show that he forgives me.” She hardly knew what she was saying.

He touched her hand for a moment and let it drop.

“There is nothing to forgive,” he said. “I had almost forgotten the circumstance till your face reminded me of it.”

“You are cruel,” she said, “and not even polite. Why haven’t you punished him?”

“I punched his head,” he said coolly. “One does not go further on such slight quarrels.”

“You are positively insulting,” she said.

“I think I meant to be. I beg your pardon. You should be flattered. Correctly analyzed, my rudeness should show you that my vanity still suffers at the touch of a careless hand.”

She looked appealingly at him and presently spoke . . .

“Charles, couldn’t you forgive me? Don’t you love me at all now?”

He smiled kindly at her. “My dear lady, all is forgiven — and forgotten!”

She turned her head to the window so that he should not see her eyes. With a shriek and a rumble, the train passed into a tunnel. The roar of it rang in her ears, and the tears ran down her face on to the sables. Two shrieks from the engine — the train quivered and shook with the sudden stress of the brakes. Then came another shriek, a crash — and — the biggest accident of the year, as the Northern express ran full into the slow local rear lights.

The first-class carriage where pride and love had fought lay battered and overturned on the up-fine. The deafening noise of steam, the clamour of voices, the wailing of children, the cries of women rang out in the arch of the tunnel. But in the first-class carriage, there was silence and darkness, for, with the shock, all the lights had gone out.

Presently in the darkness, a match spurted. He raised himself on one elbow and tried to drag his other arm from under the wood that imprisoned it. The arm was tightly wedged, and he felt that it was broken. He lit another match, his teeth set in agony, and looked around for her. She was lying quite near him, yet not within reach, all twisted up, a heap of dark cloth and furs. Her eyes were closed, and there was blood on the ghastly white of her face.

“My darling! My darling!” he cried, and with that, he tore at his imprisoned arm to free it — that he might get to her — fought and tore till from sheer pain he went out of life.

When the sufferers were drawn out of the wreck one by one, he and she were among the last to be released. He regained his consciousness in the anguish of that release.

They bound up his arm and her head, and, clinging to each other, they tottered out of the tunnel by the light of the torches and climbed into the relief train. It was crowded with pale, bandaged faces and limbs swathed in white.

“I shall get out at the first station,” he said, and his voice was coldly polite. “By the way, I didn’t quite understand. Does your wedding take place on Christmas morning?”

She leaned a little against his uninjured shoulder, and so closely was the carriage packed that he could not draw away.

“If you wish it,” she said.

“I beg your pardon?” he questioned courteously.

“Oh, hush!” she whispered. “You cannot go on pretending any more now. When you thought I was dead, you called me your darling. Do you remember?”

“You are mistaken,” he said, but she answered with eyes that laughed at him from under the white bandage.

“Don’t scowl at me. I am not a bit afraid of you. Nothing matters now. I know that you love me. You will see — I shall have everything my own way. Dear, put the naughty, black dog up the chimney; I have no pride now — I am going to be your darling . . . ”

Under the sables, her hand, in its torn, grimy glove, slipped into his. He clasped it and: “You have exorcised the devil,” he said softly, and her fingers clung to his.

“Say it, again — now you know that I am not dead.”

So he whispered in her ear in that crowded carriage the most banal of love’s banalities: “My darling!” and then, for a time, they spoke no more.

It was at the first stopping-place that he said: “I had better come home with you and explain to your people the immutable nature of our intentions.”

“Yes,” she said.

“And you must telegraph to Lord Leamington. Writing won’t do — a wire the moment the offices are open.”

“Yes.”

“And — my darling — Christmas Day is a very – good day to be married on . . . ”

“Yes. . . ”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, my darling!”

 

Original short story by E. Nesbit

Retold by A Moffat

Illustration by ArtTower

©All rights reserved justanemotion.com 2020

 

 

Illustrations & Photography

My greatest appreciation to ArtTower for the first image of a beautiful lady.

 

 

The Kiss

The Kiss, short story book cover by Edith Nesbit

The Kiss – was first published in 1907 by the author E Nesbit, an English author and poet who is best known for her children’s books such as; The Railway Children, The Story Of The Treasure Seekers The Woodbegoods. This short story is ablaze with colour and intrigue – leaving you completely spellbound – deep in the heart of an English country garden. Although, The Kiss is not one of the authors’ better-known works, it can capture the pure essence of love in its purest of forms. With the addition of some illustrations, and only a few – slight – changes to enhance a more modern reading experience, we hope you enjoy this short but delightful tale.

Their first meeting was in the long gallery among the Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities at the British Museum. Enthusiast though he was, he was tired, as human souls are tired, with the cold reserve of carved stone – the imperturbable mystery of these old kings and gods who had kept for thousands of years amid the shifting sands of the desert, their immemorial secrets. His eyes ached with the scrutiny of minute and delicate detail. Then suddenly, his eyes rested on her, fair and laughing and full of the joy of life, and his soul rejoiced because there was still a youth in the world and secrets that no kings and gods had the power to keep from the sons of men who walk the earth today.

She came along the gallery between two other girls, but he did not see these as living creatures – only as dark figures against the light of her presence. It was not till they three were close to him that he became aware of her and looked up. Their eyes met and stayed together in a look that lasted a very long time – almost half a minute. She came up quite close to him, always with those others that did not count, and then abruptly, the three turned to the right, and the swing doors of the refreshment room vibrated behind them.

Then he tried to analyse that look of hers – not bold or provocative, yet with no timidity, no bashfulness, no self-consciousness. It was the look of one who trusts the world and thinks well of it. Many girls nowadays have that frank, fearless look. The qualities that made them look worth analysing were two: its length and a quality of recognition.

Did she know him?

The Kiss, short story book cover by Edith Nesbit

The Kiss

Had he ever met her before? No, he could not have forgotten her. He lingered in the gallery till she and her companions came back through the swing doors. This time she had no eyes for him. He strolled the way they went, noted all down the Roman gallery the grace of her free gait, saw her disappear into the reading-room, and went home.

His home was in Kent, and he was going to say good-bye to it for a while – for next week he started for the East, to watch, under cloudless skies, paid and uninterested workers scraping at the earth to bring to light such cold witnesses to old faith and loyalty and love as lined the gallery where he had met her.

The last days were full. His father, who stayed at home and wrote the books for which Neville gathered the materials, had many last words to say. Also, his type-writing girl had gone off ill, and there was a delay in getting another. So Neville spent a good many hours in the work secretaries are paid for. His aunt, who adored him, wanted his opinion on the new Dutch garden that was now a bit of meadow beyond the orchard and was to be a blaze of formal beauty when he came home again.

“You’ll think about that mass of yellow tulips and forget-me-nots when you are boiling your brains in Egypt,” she said.

“I’m not imaginative enough,” he told her. “I shall see the old garden as I always do, and the rose arches all red and pink and yellow, and my nice aunt snipping off the dead flowers with a pair of rusty scissors.”

“Aren’t there any flowers out there?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, cactus flowers, but they’re not pleasant to pick. It’s difficult to believe that spring really will come again, isn’t it? when one sees the bare brown trees and the heaps of dead leaves.”

“But all the flowers are there under the leaves,” said the aunt, “and spring really will come again.”

The aunt was right. Spring did come again. And with its coming came Neville Underwood from the dry East. He sent his luggage up from the station in the dog-cart that came to meet him, and he walked up through the woods in the splendour of one of those afternoons when May takes the rôle of July and plays the part perfectly.

The beeches were thick with bright light leaves. The elms were fully dressed; only the oaks stood almost bare. The undergrowth of hazel and sweet chestnut was dense and fresh. Through its moving green, the sun made a golden haze and the shadows of the leaves danced on a pathway that was all green grass and glad little thriving wild weeds.

Dear God, but it’s good to see green woods again,” he said.

And it was here, among the woods, that he met her the second time. In the middle of that wood is a carrefour, an open space of bright fine grass, and from it, four broad green rides run, straight as arrows, dip and dwindle and grow invisible with distance. The ground is green, the undergrowth is green, and the new fronds of bracken and the trees overhead. And in all this green, a note of deep blue is likely to take the eye of the gazer.

It took him through a tangle of woodbine and wild rose trails. He went about and skirting the thicket came to a little clearing. A tree had been cut down, and its branches lopped. And here was the blue; it was a girl’s dress, and the girl herself lay on the ground, her head on a cushion of green leaves, one hand clenched on her breast and the other by her side; her body thrown there, with all the abandonment of a tired kitten that sleeps in the sun at flat full length. So still she lay he could hardly believe that she slept. He stood and gazed at her. It was still there, in the warm wood; not a hair of her loosely bound locks stirred. Was she asleep? Could she have fainted?

A keener question pierced him suddenly. There were crimes – even in England. One read about them in the newspapers. He came nearer – stooped beside her. His hand hesitated. Could one – dared one, lay one’s hand under the heart of a strange lady, no matter what mad fear suddenly caught one? And he did not know her. All he remembered of her was her eyes, and these were shut. Perhaps he would never have known her if she had kept them closed. But, as he, kneeling, stooped more nearly to listen for her breathing, her eyes opened, and he knew her. Her eyes opened, she smiled sleepily.

Then —
The Kiss a short story by Edith Nesbit,

It was impossible. There he stood in the wood, and there she lay, eyes closed, motionless as ever. Could one have these momentary dreams? Were woods sometimes enchanted, as old tales would have one to believe? For it had certainly seemed to him that she had opened her eyes, smiled and then – that she had put up an arm, soft and firm through the sun-warmed linen of its sleeve, had caught him round the neck, drawn his face down to hers till he had kissed her on the lips. Incredible, impossible. And further, it had seemed to him that his kiss had only been given as a response, an unavoidable response.

So he stood, looking at her, and now he saw that whether he had dreamed this or not, she was not dead, nor fainting, but equably asleep. At any rate, the deep, soft breathing that stirred the blue linen over her bosom, the eyelids deep-drooped, and with never a flicker of awakening, the limp abandon of the hands told of nothing but sleep – deep sleep. Only now, the pallor of her face was flushed with rose-colour.

 

 

He stepped back through the quiet green and walked home through the part of the wood which was not enchanted. The warm touch of her mouth was on his all the way. But it vanished when the aunt’s soft faded cheek lay against his lips, and the brilliant patchwork of the Dutch garden shut out the green woods of magic happenings. The happy dance of the leaves in the greenwood paled before the father, full of glad questionings and comments, his trembling hands stirring deep drifts of rustling leaves – notes for the new book, on all sorts of odd scraps of paper – it was good to be at home where one was so loved, so desired. And he told himself that he must have fallen asleep in the wood. Most certainly, the girl from the Museum could never have fallen asleep there.

Tea was served under the copper-beech.

“Are you expecting anyone?” Neville asked, for the cups were four.

“Only Phil—your father’s secretary, I mean,” said the aunt. “Ah, here she comes. . . ”

And of course, it was the girl from the Museum who came across the lawn in her blue dress, with a hat that hung from her arm by knotted strings.

Neville heard the aunt speak kindly to the girl, heard his name and another name, and found himself bowing to the girl whose lips – But he heard nothing distinctly because of the horrible new certainty that sprang at him. It was true. It was no vision. This girl whose eyes had haunted him among the Egyptian tombs more than once and more than twice – this demure girl who was his father’s secretary, this girl had really of her own free will drawn down the head of a perfect stranger with that arm now reached out for her teacup, had drawn it down till the stranger’s lips lay on hers. “It was beautiful in the woods,” she was saying.

She was sitting there – talking to his aunt and his father quietly, as if nothing had happened. She, who had kissed a stranger in a wood. Had she never thought to meet him again. Just the passing kiss, the moment of pale stolen fire, and now she had met him, what would she do? Nothing, she would brazen the whole thing out. Horrible. But she had not been able to help blushing. It was that deep a slow-fading blush that had enlightened him had shown him that it was no vision that she also remembered. A burning crimson blush, over face and ears and neck; and the aunt had said:

“I hope you haven’t hurried, dear, in this heat.”

And she had said: “I didn’t want to be late for tea.”

He handed bread and butter to her. She was not blushing now.

“Oh, bother,” said Neville to himself, “now all the peace and pleasure is gone. It won’t be like home with a wicked little cat like that about the place.”

She was pretty, he decided, much prettier than he had thought her at the Museum. Pretty and in an open-eyed, candid-looking way that did not rhyme with that girl’s disgraceful conduct in the wood.

She went away, presently, with the father to garner into sheaves those loose leaves of notes. Then Neville heard how she was the daughter of Grantham, the great Egyptologist, dead these three years, how she was very clever at her work, outstanding company, and altogether a dear child.

“But you mustn’t fall in love with her, Neville,” the aunt said, “and thank Heaven you’re not given to that sort of thing.”

“Thank Heaven I’m not! But why mustn’t I?”

“Because she’s got a sweetheart already.”

“She would have,” he told himself, “a sweetheart – half-a-dozen most likely.”

“How I know is that Mr Maulevere asked her to share his heart and vicarage – yes – before she’d been here a month. I thought it would be a perfect thing for her, for he’s really not bad, is he? And she is quite without means. However, she’s so well connected. But no. Then I got it out of her that there’s someone else.”

“I congratulate her,” said Neville lazily. “The jasmine’s late this year, isn’t it? “

“The jasmine flowers in July,” said the aunt severely, “and I congratulate him. For if ever there was a dear, good, kind, unselfish girl —

“Then I congratulate you,” he said, “and no doubt it’s lucky for me that I’m not given to that sort of thing.'”

It was “that sort of thing” – an unworldly romance – that had in his teens caused Neville’s relations to send him, for change of scene, to Southern climes. In other words, he had gone with one of Cook’s tourist tickets to Egypt, and there, his father’s hobby, hitherto a sealed and dull-seeming book to him, had suddenly grown to be the most important thing in the world.

He had come back to England, cured of his passion for poor vulgar Annabel, with the red hair, flaxen at the roots, and the black eyelashes and brows that were white when the dye was off them. He came back cured, despising love and wearing round his neck a charm that a gipsy woman from the desert had given him when he had saved her life from the keen blade of one who had been her lover.

“Wear it always,” she had said; “it will keep you from unworthy loves.” And it, or something else – had kept him. “It has a further power,” the woman had added, “but that you will learn when the time comes.”

He was not a superstitious man, but he wore the amulet. It did not keep him from the remembrance of an arm around his neck, lips on his – the shameless effrontery of a worthless girl.

“I hope,” said the aunt anxiously when the father had gone to his study and Philomela to her bed, “I do hope you’re not going to dislike that girl. You hardly spoke to her all the evening.”

“Didn’t I?” he said. “I’ll do better tomorrow.”

So next morning when he saw her gown, it was mauve to-day – among the little orange trees, in tubs that had just been moved out of the greenhouse, on to the end of the terrace, he went across the grey crooked flag-stones to her.

“Good morning,” he said, and he could hardly have said less.

“What a beautiful old place it is,” she said pleasantly. “I wonder whether you know how lucky you are to have been born here.”

“It’s old certainly,” he said, “and extremely shabby.”

“That’s part of the charm,” she said; “wealthy people never have anything beautiful because they always pay someone to make it for them. But look at the new garden. Miss Underwood and I made that . . . oh, of course, Sam did the dull digging, but he’s as proud of it as we are. We put in all the bulbs, made plans and everything.”

She was talking without a trace of embarrassment.

“That’s true,” said he.

“And having the drawing-room re-papered. That was an event. It took us a week to choose the paper. Now Really Rich People who can have their rooms papered whenever they like! And the orange trees, you don’t know how we’ve nursed them all winter. If Miss Underwood could buy new ones when these died, why they’d be nothing.”

He liked her voice, the turn of her head and her eyes – he had always liked her eyes.

“I do not like you at all,” he said inwardly -“oh, not at all. You shall not make me like you.”

But he stayed talking with her in the little wood of orange-trees till the aunt had laid away the jingling housekeeping keys and joined them on the terrace. Then she went to her work in the library. He strolled in presently to talk over the book with his father.

“You won’t mind Miss Grantham staying with us?” said the father. “She can take down everything you say in shorthand – and as she’ll have the whole transcribing of the book to do . . .

“Of course – of course,” said Neville. In that morning, he found out that Miss Grantham was not only pretty but clever. That she knew more about his special subject than any woman he had ever met.

“Curious,” he said to himself as he strolled into lunch. “Curious how I dislike that girl.”

Dislike her, he might, but it was impossible not to talk to her, as it is not to answer an amiable and intelligent child. She was not childish or even childlike, but she seemed so unconscious of any reason why she should not talk to him. And there were so many things to talk about. The book, the garden, the old house: the growing glory of spring putting on the vestments of summer, the brasses in the old church, the new green of the aspens in the churchyard.

It was one day when the haze of great heat turned the woods blue and the far hills violet that they stood by the broken balustrade of the terrace and looked out over the fields of flowering grass dimpled by the wind.

Her eyes were fixed on the wood: the wood.

“I wonder,” he said suddenly and quite without meaning to say it, “why you blushed so when my aunt introduced me to you.”

She blushed again now and turned her face away to gaze down the uneven line of the grey parapet.

“Why was it?” he urged.

“I did hope you hadn’t noticed,” she said.

“Noticed? My dear Miss Grantham, it was like a regiment of soldiers in the sunlight. No one could have helped noticing it. Was it surprise at seeing someone else there having tea?”

He gave her that loop-hole because suddenly he found that he was sorry for her. After all, she had done him no harm. Save for that one shocking incident in the wood she had been to him; a girl should be to a man in whose father’s house she is a well-paid servant and an honoured guest. She had been courteous, dignified, useful, amusing . . .

“No,” she said, avoiding the loop-hole, “it wasn’t surprising, because of course, I knew you were coming. But I didn’t know it would be you.”

He wished then very earnestly that he had not begun to ask questions.

“Oh, never mind,” he said quickly, “it doesn’t matter.”

“I don’t understand,” she said.

“It was an impertinent question.”

“No, no,” she said eagerly. “I’ve often wanted to tell you. I knew you’d noticed me blushing in that insane way. It was because I met you once at the British Museum – of course, you don’t remember it.”

“But of course I do,” he interrupted.

“I hoped you wouldn’t,” she said, “because I stared at you. Honestly, I didn’t know I’d done it till afterwards, and I stared at you for quite a long time – and then. When I saw you at tea on the lawn here – I remembered, and I hoped you wouldn’t.”

“But why did you stare at me, as you call it – in the Museum, I mean?”

“I don’t know,” she said very earnestly. “I can’t think. It was as if I’d seen you before and been looking for you. Then suddenly, there you were. I believe I expected you to shake hands. It was as if we were old friends. It does sound most ludicrous. Do you think one ever has moments when one is quite mad?”

“I do,” he said earnestly. “I do indeed; I’ve had moments when I’ve fancied the most extraordinary things. But they’ve not been true,” he added stoutly, “any more than it was true that we’d met before that day at the Museum.”

“Are you sure we never met before – at a dance or anywhere? Oh, yes, I used to go to heaps of dances before father – when father was here. Are you sure that we never met before?”

“Quite,” he said. “I should never have forgotten it if we had.” His tone was one she had never heard.

And now he was quite certain that the hollow in the wood and the sleeping blue figure and the round arm and all the rest of it had been only a vision, queer and unaccountable, but still a vision. The certitude made a new heaven and a new earth for him. How could he ever have thought that she, she who was all that a man’s ideal lady should be, could ever have put an arm around the neck of a stranger and – but why go over the silly tale again?

However, the silly tale sang itself to him day and night like a song of the joy of all the world. He had felt her lips, though it had been but in a vision, and all his visions now, sleeping and waking, were of a time when he should touch those lips again.

He and she and the father worked hard at the book, often late into the night, but there were golden mornings and silver evenings when the garden was grey in starlight, and the white moon fell into the river and lay there looking up at her reflection in the deep calm sky.

The aunt and the father looked on and saw that more and more, in all the hours that the book did not claim, the two were together. And they were glad.

“If only he can make her forget the other one,” said the aunt, “he’ll never find such another – kind, gentle, sweet. . . ”

“And clever!” said the father, “and patient. And pretty, too.”

“That doesn’t matter so much,” said the aunt, “but she’s so modest and sweet and – she has a perfect genius for gardening.”

“And for our sort of work,” the father said. “I don’t suppose there’s another girl alive with eyes like hers who knows shorthand, and the Egyptian and Assyrian script, and how to be always handy and never in the way.”

“I must make her forget the other man, confound him,” said Neville, and wondered savagely whether the other man had ever had wild, extraordinary visions in woodland places.

Then came the wet day, the last of three, when the river was grey and lashed with rain, and the garden lay drenched and the roses, bowed, mud-splashed, drooped and dripped. Philomela covered her head with the aunt’s waterproof and ran through the rain and the wild west wind to the stone summer house at the end of the terrace. There was an unglazed window that looked eastward; from it, one could look out, sheltered and safe, at the green seething wetness of meadow and wood.

Here he found her. He came behind her as she sat on the stone seat, and she did not turn her head.

“Philomela,” he said; his voice was low.

“Yes,” she said.

Standing at her shoulder, he put his hand under her chin and turned her face up till he could see it.

“Philomela,” he said again, “Is there anyone else?”

“No,” said she.

Then he touched her lips and knew, at the touch, that it was not for the first time. That – is the wood – it had not been a vision. It had been real – real as this, real as his despair.

Yet he would be sure.

“Philomela,” he said her name for the third time, “have you ever fallen asleep in a wood?”

“Yes,” said she, and once more, the crimson flush covered neck and brow and ears.

“In that wood?” It lay below them drenched in misty desolation.

“Yes.”

“The day I came home?”

“Yes.”

“God forgive you,” he said, turned, and left her.

He went for a long walk in the rain.

That night at dinner, the aunt and the father were surprised to learn that Neville was going to town by the early train in the morning; it was uncertain when he would return. He ate little and spoke of business too long neglected and thought he should go by the 6.15 before any of them were up.

He stayed up late that night, packing everything in a raging fury of energy. O — how he had loved her – he did love her – and she was – that. There was no room in his brain for fatigue. There was only room for this furious anger against the woman who had made him love her – and she, herself unworthy of the love of any man.

It must have been two in the morning when the fire of resentment began to burn lower, and he suddenly found he was hungry. There would be less chance of sleep than ever if he were hungry. He was not young enough to spite his stomach to be revenged on his heart. Then down he went into the dining-room where the sideboard was, with the sherry and the biscuits and the cake. He lit the candles in the silver candlesticks on the mantelpiece. Something moved close to him.

“Who’s there?” he said. The candles turned clear, and Philomela rose from the big chair that was his father’s. She wore the grey dress she had worn at dinner, and her face seemed grey, too.

“What on earth are you doing here?” he asked roughly.

“I’m waiting to see you off,” she said. “You know I’ve got to speak to you. It can’t end like this. People don’t do such things.”

“What things?”

“Leave women as you left me – after – Oh, how I hate you! How dare you kiss me?”

“I might ask the same question,” he sneered.

“You might . . ?”

“Yes,” he said brutally. “And I will ask it. How dare you kiss me? Down there in the wood. How dared you put your arm around a stranger’s neck and draw his head down till he kissed you?”

I – you think I did that?”

“I know it.”

“But how – when?”

“You know well enough – the day I came home.”

“But,” she said slowly, and her eyes did not flinch from his as the two stood in the darkened room with the candles’ steady light on their confronted faces, “if you know this, you’ve always known it. Then why – all this time . . ?”

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought afterwards; it must have been a vision, a dream, a hallucination of the senses. How could I believe that you – you seemed so different – you – a stranger – shameless.”

“Then if you couldn’t believe it then, why believe it now?” Her voice was cold and toneless.

“Because I kissed you again – fool that I was. When I felt your lips, I knew it was not the first time – I knew, and you confirmed it; you owned that you’d been asleep in the wood that day, and you blushed – good God, girl, did you expect me to go on with it after that?”

She picked up one of the candlesticks, looked at it attentively, set it down very carefully in its place. Then she turned to him.

“Listen to me,” she said. “First of all, I’ll never see you, speak to you again as long as I live. If you could think that I – oh – how could anyone think it!”

The anger in her voice was fuel to the anger in his heart.

“But – great God in heaven, you can’t mean to try to brazen it out! I didn’t think – you did it.”

“I’m going to tell you the truth,” she said, facing him. “I don’t care whether you believe me or not. I was asleep in the wood that day, and I dreamed that you were there – and, and that it all happened as you say. And then I woke, and you were standing there. And I pretended to be asleep.”

“But why – why did you pretend that?

“How could I look you in the face after dreaming that?

“And you never thought that perhaps it wasn’t a dream?”

“How should I? Why! – Oh, you shall have the whole truth. That day I saw you at the Museum, I knew you, though I’d never seen you and never dreamed of you. And ever since that, I’ve dreamed of you almost always. That – is the wood was only a dream-like another.”

“Always of me? Never of anyone else?”

“No,” she retorted scornfully, “never of anyone else – goodbye.”

She turned to go, but he caught her arm roughly.

“Let me go – you hurt,” she said, but he said, “No, not yet. You shall tell me everything. Did you kiss me in your other dreams?”

“Yes,” she said defiantly, throwing back her head, “but in my other dreams, I loved you – and you loved me. No – no – I will never forgive you, never. Let me go. It’s no good. I hate you. I wish I’d never seen you. No, no, no.”

He had not spoken, but his eyes had implored.

“No,” she cried, “no, I will never forgive you, never. Oh, how could you, how could you – ”

“Don’t cry – ah, don’t,” he whispered with his arms around her.

“Here,” she said presently, lifting her head from his shoulder and feeling among the laces of her bodice, “my father told me to wear this always and to give it to the man I loved when I was certain he loved me. He said it would keep me from unworthy loves.”

He took it from her hand. It was an amulet. “Oh, but – ” he said and showed her the one he wore – its counterpart.

“Yes,” she said, “I knew you had that. Your aunt told me. So then I knew that nothing could part us.”

“But you said you’d never speak to me again—you’d never forgive me.”

“Ah,” she said, “yes – I said that,”

The pink flush of sunrise was over the drenched garden as they opened the French window and stepped out onto the terrace. She stopped and faced him.

“Now I’m quite, quite sure,” she said. “I want to tell you one thing. Then there won’t be even a shadow between us.”

“There is none now,” he said.

“That day – in the wood – sometimes I have wondered, whether it was a dream. And yet, I thought it couldn’t be true. But I did wonder if it could— really be only another dream like the others.”

“Why?”

“Come, let’s go and walk in the rose garden,” she said, pulling at his hand.

“But why,” he persisted, “shouldn’t it have been a dream, like the others?”

“I – you – the kisses in the dreams were quite different,” she said.

Original short story by E. Nesbit

Introduced by A I Moffat

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Illustrations & Photography

The front cover of a beautiful girl was by Ractapopulous.

 

A Touch Of Love

A Touch Of Love is a short story by A I Moffat, who conjures up the innocence of a young boy who struggles to understand why reality should come in the way of his affections. Emily soon becomes increasingly concerned that she has made a dreadful mistake yet finds herself drawn to his innocence time and time again. Just a touch of love has awoken a child who lived in an imaginary world of his own, afraid of allowing his real depth to be exposed. An illustrated short story of intrigue which captures the imagination. We hope you enjoy a touch of love.

‘I’m not sure -’ she hesitated.

The boy lay at her side with his back to her, plucking the long blades of grass in front of him, then flicking them to one side. Not one thing, he pondered had he said or done all day had pleased her, now he just wanted to be free of her constant; what-ifs and his apparent inability to understand.

‘Joe!’ She insisted.

Childish, he thought, must be her favourite word. ‘Yes! I heard you,’ he sighed, flicking the next blade of grass straight up into the air, ‘sure about what?’

‘Well, you know— ’ she glanced over him, ‘about us!

Us! – He repeated to himself whilst shaking his head, ‘you mean – me!’ he mumbled.

As if she had not made that perfectly obvious, the boy frowned. Now it just seemed like the only thing that mattered to her was what everyone else thought; how could Charlotte know what to do for the best? His eyes slowly fell into her imaginary embrace, the absolute warmth of her he so desperately yearned.

Again the girl persisted, ‘Joe!

His eyes half opened, then fell heavily before bursting into a vacant stare as he pondered what she expected him to say. In frustration, he grabbed a large tuft of grass and pulled it straight from the sodden earth.

Emily sat quietly, staring in patience at her thoughts closely entwined within her clasp; with each unfolding finger came another uncertain notion.

Suddenly the boy rose to his feet, clutching the sodden clump in his hand until he was standing directly over her.

‘What are you doing?’ She asked in a disapproving tone.

The boy just smiled menacingly down at her.

Emily’s eyes tightened, ‘I’m— being serious.’

Nothing!’ The boy snapped, allowing himself to collapse at her feet.

Emily leaned forward and reached out to him; at first, he resisted, then his head turned slightly into her palm, and he kissed it gently. ‘I’m sorry— Joe, but I’m just so— tired and frightened.’

‘Me too,’ he murmured, leaning into her, ‘of losing you.’ Instantly he allowed his head to slip from her palm onto her lap.

‘Oh – Joe, you’re not losing me . . . ’

He felt her pity drop into an ever-increasing void, where once her words gave so much meaning. Again his eyes tightened to deafen the pain of reality and become submerged in the warmth of her embrace.

Again and again, he heard her distant torment of reason until finally, it shattered his delusion of any hope. Now only a sorceress maintained some degree of resistance as he lay craving her affection.

‘. . .  And what about your poor mum?’ Emily insisted, ‘She will be devastated to find out – you had kept it a secret – from her,’

The beautiful sky blue eyes of the sorceress had suddenly faded into that of his mother, who now wielded a sword: Just – Do It! he screamed from within.

At times it was true. He felt it was wrong and was afraid of what she might do if ever she found out; he didn’t care about his dad, sister, or even brother, especially not Steve. Anyway, it was all over, and there was nothing he could do. He was going to die right there in her lap. Finally! He thought he would be free from the torment of his forbidden desire.

‘Steve might accuse you of abduction or trying to steal his child.’

Abduction!  He found himself repeating over and over again.

Joe! Did you hear what I said?’

It was hopeless; she just wouldn’t let him be, all day he thought and not once had she allowed him to search the comfort of her. She was throwing him to the wolves, and he didn’t need to be twenty-one to understand that. His eyes lifted slowly, burdened by reality and her constant infliction. ‘Yes!’ He exclaimed, lifting his head, ‘You’re worried about my family,’ he smiled briefly in defeat.

‘Oh . . . Joe,’ her eyes flickered. ‘But – what if Steve was to find out?’

What was it that had changed from one day to the next? He thought as he stared straight into her eyes. He shrugged, ‘Doesn’t matter, and besides, he finished with you – remember.

Her eyes slightly fell from him, ‘But are you sure – this is what you want, Joe?’

The boy leaned slightly in towards her, ‘Abduction, for goodness sakes,’ he tittered, pushing down hard against the tree stump until he was back on his feet. He looked down at her with a vague smile; it was no use for her to expect him to make it any easier; he just couldn’t; it would be like cutting his own throat.

Emily looked up as he turned and pushed his hands deep into the pockets of his trench coat. She smiled lightly as he stubbornly kicked out at the long blades of grass in front of him until he reached the edge of the brook. It was just the boys wanting Emily was sure of it, which made him so stubborn, so blind. She loved him with all of her heart, but there could never be a future for them, especially not now. Her smile faded with a nagging necessity to at least try and make him understand.

‘What a complete mess I’ve made of things,’ she called over to him.

‘I know – but – I,’ he stammered, ‘Well I thought you said . . . ’

‘I do, Joe, but – I’m frightened,’ she paused in thought. ‘So frightened, and it’s just so complicated. I do love you more than I ever loved him, but he’s the father and

‘And  – ’ Joe cut in, ‘I’m just a silly mistake that should never have happened.’  He turned to face her, ‘But it did, and I  – ’ his head fell, ‘love – you.’

A touch of Love Page 2

A quick note by the Author:

As a writer, the greatest reward is knowing the enjoyment a reader gets from his work. There is always that feeling of uncertainty until he receives a review. Your comments are of great importance in helping me improve my skill and improve your enjoyment. Your comments will be much appreciated and be of great value.

Thank you for your interest, Andrew.

a worried look of concern

A Touch Of Love

 Original short story by A I Moffat

Illustrations by justanemotion.com

©All rights reserved justanemotion.com 2020

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Imagery

The first image of a beautiful girl is by Arttower.

Photo of a boy at the end was by Puplicdomainpictures.