An English Love Story
The rain hit the cobbled street hard and ran in rivulets down the hill. It made a loud ringing sound on the corrugated tin roofs of the houses that merchants and street performers were hiding under. The rain was fast, there was no warning, and only a clap of thunder and then the storm came. The sky was gray and the street urchins who play in the alleys and sit on the corners are all hiding from the storm. But not Richard Lancaster, he was safe in his carriage on the way to meet the love of his life.
He normally wouldn’t go through such a run-down portion of the neighborhood but she had said it was something important, and he couldn’t help but think that maybe she would finally say that she loved him too. She was in a relationship with another man, but he had always been her closest confidant and he had always had hope. He was woken out of his daydreams by another clap of thunder, and he decided not to dwell on what she might say. He looked out the window of his carriage and recognized that he was in her part of town, and he began to get excited again.
He had always been like this for her. She would talk to him once, and he would daydream of her all day long. His work was beginning to suffer from the constant distraction. One day they went on a picnic in the park, and her smell, her voice, everything about her made him joyous. But for the whole week afterwards he hadn’t been able to focus at his job as an accountant. His manager was worried that he would be too distracted and start making errors that cost the company lots of money. When Richard had told her, she had insisted on him focusing on his work and that they should stop having picnics if it affected him like that.
He was once again jolted out of his reverie by the carriage hitting an exceptionally large pothole in the cobbled street. The carriage then came to a slow stop and he noticed the building in which his beloved lived. He got out of the carriage, took his umbrella and walked towards the door. She was waiting for him and had opened the door before he reached the steps. She was beautiful, as always, in her white dress with a blue satin ribbon in her hair, and his breath was taken away. She noticed and began to blush, but he caught himself in time before she could say anything. He walked into the mudroom, took off his coat and hat, and she welcomed him in for tea.
“So, Katelyn, what was so important that you had me rush over here?” Richard asked as he went to get the tea set.
“Richard, I have good news. But you had best sit down before I tell you.”
Richard pulled out Katelyn’s chair so she could sit down and she began to blush again. He poured tea for the both of them and then sat down as well. “Alright, what is the good news?” Richard was hopeful by the look on her face that today might be the day that she would return his feelings, but it was not to be.
“Andrew has finally asked me to marry him. I said yes, oh I love him so much!” Katelyn blushed again and looked down at her cup as she said this.
“Oh…” was all Richard could manage, and then he set down his tea, and was quiet for a long time. They drank their tea in silence before he said “Congratulations, I hope you two will be happy with each other.” His voice was colder than he meant it to be.
“No, Richard, please don’t be mad! It was all so sudden, I couldn’t help it!” Katelyn’s voice was getting choked and he couldn’t bear to see her like this.
“I really must be going, goodbye Katelyn.” Again, colder than he meant.
“No! Richard, please don’t leave me, I need you here, you’re my closest friend and I… I love you too.” Katelyn was beginning to cry and he knew it was his fault. He had to get out of her life fast before he could cause her more pain.
“You don’t love me the way you love him. You know I love you more than anything and that this would be the worst thing you could’ve said.” Richard was getting his coat and hat back on, he was ready to leave.
“I know and I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help it. I can’t control my feelings just like you can’t control yours.” She was crying completely now and could barely get the words out before she choked up.
Richard couldn’t feel anything except the dull aching inside him and the rain on his back. He walked to the carriage and began to ride home. On his way through the neighborhood he saw a street urchin hiding beneath one of the metal stalls. The man looked exactly like him, except in rags. Richard was scared and could barely get any sleep that night.
Over the next few weeks his work began to suffer, he couldn’t focus, and his manager was getting more and more worried. The dull ache was always present inside him, and one day he just stared into the distance while his work piled up. The manager came in, took one look at the mountain of paper piling up and he began to yell. Richard was fired from his job, the only source of his meager income was gone. He used to live paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t do that anymore. He gathered his things, went to his apartment and laid on the couch with only him, his clothes, and the ache.
Katelyn was worried about him. She sent flowers, poetry, songs, and after he was unemployed, money. She wanted to let him know that she was always there for him and that she loved him. The money would go to the landlord who understood what he was going through. But eventually the poetry stopped coming, then the songs, then the flowers, then the money. The last thing he got from her before he was evicted from his apartment was a sketch of her and Andrew on their honeymoon. She was as beautiful as ever, in her white dress with blue satin ribbon in her hair.
He lost all feeling in his body except the ache, which seemed to pulse with each step he took, each breath, every heartbeat. He wandered aimlessly until he found a church, and he walked inside to get out of the rain. A priest was inside, praying on one of the pews. Richard walked over to the man, got on his knees, and begged to be blessed. The priest, overwhelmed by the sorrow in Richard’s voice, blessed him and Richard cried himself to sleep in that church.
Many years later, the rain hit the cobbled street hard and ran in rivulets down the hill. It made a loud ringing sound on the corrugated tin roofs of the houses that merchants and street performers were hiding under. The rain was fast, there was no warning, and only a clap of thunder and then the storm came. The sky was gray and the street urchins who play in the alleys and sit on the corners are all hiding from the storm. But not Andrew Jones, he was safe in his carriage on the way to meet the love of his life.
He normally wouldn’t go through such a run-down portion of the neighborhood but she had said it was something important, and he was excited to hear the news. Maybe she was finally pregnant! Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a man in rags hiding from the storm beneath a stall. It was Richard Lancaster.