In the midst of celebration, a sad but beautifully written little story by one of our new authors, Victoria Cornwall. This is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. Just gorgeous!
Read right until the end to find out how to enter one of our many birthday competitions
The familiar notes stir my soul and bring me to my senses whilst a hunter’s moon casts a silvery light on the Georgian building in front of me. It is imposing, but despite the late hour I feel no fear. As a new bride I fell in love with Bosvathick House the first time I saw it. I have walked its polished floors and looked out its lead framed windows many times. It was me who planted the flowering Wisteria which now adorns its outer walls. I have laughed and loved in those rooms until, one day, without warning, I left, abandoning my child and the only man I ever loved. Tonight, by way of a simple tune wafting through an open window, the old house is calling me home. A movement catches my eye and I see his silhouette in the window. The house is not the only one waiting for my return.
To my relief, the hall remains unchanged. I feel ashamed for feeling this way as it may mean that my husband remains locked in the despair in which I left him. I climb the staircase lined with his ancestors. They look down on me from their gilt frames as I slowly follow the musical notes of The Blue Danube to the first floor. The sight of my portrait gives me the courage to continue on.
The carpet is newer here and the rooms have subtly changed. A female has cast her magic touch across the décor. I feel out of date, impotent and no longer missed. The door to his study is ajar and for the first time I feel afraid. I have not seen him for twenty-five years. Once I knew him better than I knew myself, yet now he is a stranger to me. I falter.
‘I knew you would come.’ His voice sounds just the same and emotion clogs my throat. I remain hidden behind the door, unable to move. ‘I know you are here, Rowena. Come in and let me see you.’ I have no choice but to enter. Even now, after all these years, I am drawn to this man.
He looks as handsome as the day I left. Nervously I touch my hair, wondering how I must look to him. He sees my concern.
‘You look as beautiful as I remember,’ he says. I see softness in his eyes and I cannot help but return his smile. The tuneful notes slow as the music box finally runs down.
I reach out to touch the treasure on his desk, ‘You still have the music box.’ I had always loved his twenty-fourth birthday gift to me. The tune was our first dance. Its haunting melody always touched something deep inside me. My husband often said it had the power to wake me from the deepest of sleep.
I look up surprised. I had forgotten it was my birthday today.
‘I wish you had not left us,’ he adds. The sadness in his voice is almost the undoing of me.
I look into his eyes which hold a thousand stories, none of which I was present to share. What seems like only yesterday to me, I realise, has been an eternity for him.
A silence descends between us and I know he waits for the inevitable. I try to resist twisting the knife, but cannot help it. ‘How is she?’ I blurt out. My husband closes the music box as he considers his reply. It cannot be easy to find the right words to discuss the woman who caused our parting.
‘Her name is Elizabeth.’
The sound of her name is painful to hear. I move to the window and look out onto the tranquil gardens below.
‘What is she like?’ I ask quietly.
My husband sighs, ‘She is witty, beautiful and a joy in my life.’
I wince at his words. The pain has increased a hundred times.
I turn to look at him, ‘Does she know about me?’
‘Yes, I have told her all about you.’
‘Does she hate me?’
Richard shakes his head slowly, ‘She has no reason to hate you.’
I take a deep, shaky breath, ‘Is she happy?’
‘Does she understand that it was not her fault I left?’
He nods again, as if he has reassured me this a thousand times before in his dreams. Strangely, his quiet frustration calms my frayed nerves. I needed to know that my daughter is happy and it seems that she is.
My mind wanders back to the day I left. A time I want to remember and forget in equal measures. Twenty-five years ago I held my beautiful new-born daughter for the first time. For a few precious moments I looked into her dark blue eyes and felt her soft skin against my own. I kissed her damp head and promised to love her forever — but then my dreams came crashing down around me. Unbeknown to me, my life’s blood had begun to seep onto the white cotton sheets beneath. Soon the bed linen could no longer mask my demise. In the midst of chaos and confusion, my daughter was taken from my arms. I fought to stay, but quickly grew weak. I had given my husband the gift of a daughter and my daughter, Elizabeth, the gift of life, yet within the hour I had left them both.
The garden blurs before my eyes, ‘Why did you play the music box, Richard?’
‘Because I am ready,’ he says matter-of-factly. ‘Our daughter is now married and has a husband to love and protect her. She no longer needs me.’
I have conflicting emotions, both pleased and disappointed at the same time.
‘Then it is time,’ I say, offering him my hand. I see no fear in my husband’s eyes as he takes it in his. He has waited for this moment for as long as I have. We smile and finally feel complete.
What did we tell you? Better go and wring out our hankies before the next story :’) Lots of good things to come from Victoria Cornwall!
As Victoria is a new author, we don’t yet have a book to offer for this competition (although Victoria’s debut novel with us will be out soon – keep an eye out!) However, Victoria has kindly sent us some goodies for a lucky winner and we’ll throw in another Choc Lit book too As before, just let us know what you think of this story, either in the comments section below or on Twitter/Facebook.
Competition closes Friday 17th June 2016.