~ Chapter Eleven ~
“For an old man, you move damn fast.” Charles panted as he caught up with his father who had already crossed the parking lot.
“That’s the problem with your generation. You’re slow and lazy. When I was your age, we had to be fast and agile or we’d lose a limb on the battlefield. Now, are you sure this thing works?” Henry nodded to the large box that Charles was carrying.
“Yep, it should work. Just got to plug it into the wall socket and it’ll be good to go.”
“Excellent.” Henry held the large door open for Charles to enter the retirement home.
“Hello again!” the receptionist chirped happily.
“Hello. Has she made any progress, Margaret?” Henry asked as he closed the heavy door carefully behind Charles.
“Nope; you’d be the first person we’d call if she did.” She repeated as she did so every day. “Feel free to go see her. She should be in her room.”
"Thank you,” Henry said politely, sticking to their daily script as they walked back down the plain corridor to room 302.
“Do you really think this is going to work, Dad?”
Henry walked in silence a few steps mulling the question over. “Maybe. I’m not sure. I want it to.” Charles nodded; he understood. He wanted his Mum to remember too; even if it was for a couple of hours or a couple of minutes. Her memory loss had greatly affected Henry’s happiness, despite his denial to admit it.
“Hello Rosie.” Henry said as they walked into her room. Today she was sat in one of the chairs in the corner of the room looking outside to the streets below.
“Oh! Hello.” She replied kindly, smiling to her new visitors. “How can I help you two gentlemen?”
“Do you remember us? We were here the other day.” Charles asked gently as he placed the box on the floor and looked up to her.
Rosie frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t. My memory isn’t as good as it was when I was younger, I have to admit! So, what are your names?”
“I’m Henry, and this is my son Charles.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Rosie.” Rosie outstretched a hand.
Henry looked at her perhaps a moment too long before taking her hand and kissing it softly. “The pleasure is mine. Rosie, would you mind doing us a favour? It might help you to remember some things that you have forgotten.”
Rosie’s eyes lit up at the prospect of filling in the blank spaces of time in which she couldn’t remember a thing. “Please, go ahead. I’ll be more than happy to help.”
Henry nodded at Charles who began to unpack the contents of the box. Rosie stared at the machinery with curiosity as Henry watched her face. “New technology,” he explained. “It plays music.”
“Ohhh,” Rosie breathed. “I like music. There was one song. It was my favourite.” Rosie paused, trying to think. “I can’t remember what it was called or how it went. I remember I liked it though.”
Henry smiled sadly. “I know you like music. I’m hoping perhaps you’ll remember this song. You used to love it.”
“I did?” Rosie asked confused. “I’m sorry, have we met? Did I used to know you?”
“Yes.” Henry whispered, not trusting his voice to explain anything more. He turned to Charles who had just finished setting up the music device. “Are we ready?”
“I think so. It should work. Ready?” Charles turned to look at his parents. They nodded simultaneously and he flipped the power switch on at the mains. The small box hummed quietly and illuminated a small red power button. Charles took a deep breath, pressed the “on” button and waited.
Quietly, a song began to play, the sound of instruments tuning. Charles turned up the volume before sitting back and watching Rosie to see whether the song would have the desired effect on her memory.
A single violin played a melodic introduction sending shivers down Henry’s spine. He couldn’t take his eyes off Rosie. Her eyes were filled with wonder at the small box, having never seen such a device. As the song progressed and more instruments joined the melody, her face changed; her eyes closed and she tapped her shoes to the music. Henry looked doubtfully at Charles and Charles shrugged, mouthing “we tried”.
Under her breath, Rosie began to hum to the music. “The first time I heard this song, I fell in love. Not only with this song. I met an incredible man. He saved me, he taught me, he loved me, he left me and he returned to me. I learned from him, I trust him, I married him, I had a child with him, I cried for him and I rejoiced with him when he returned. This song was always playing, it seemed. No matter where we were. This song was played the day we discovered he was going to war, our wedding day, when I gave birth to our son, when he returned home, all the time. It has no name other than ‘Our Song’.”Rosie’s lips tightened together. “What ever happened to that guy that you rescued me from? Mr Solomon? He was a coward. What happened to him?”
“He was a coward. In the Second World War, he spent many nights crying until he fell asleep. He couldn’t use a gun. Couldn’t or wouldn’t, I’m not entirely sure. Either way, it was his hesitation that got himself shot and killed.” Henry spoke quietly, wishing he could erase the horrible memories he still possessed of the cowards final moments. The pleading. The suffering. He had pleaded Henry to shoot him to put him out of his misery and take the pain away. Henry refused but the medics couldn’t save him and he died a few painful hours later. “He apologised for harassing you. He said you could do better than him. He was happy for us.”
“Do you know what I love more than this song?” Rosie asked as if she hadn’t even heard Henry’s reply.
“What?” Henry asked, kneeling down in front of his wife and taking both her hands in his.
“I love him.” Rosie opened her eyes, smiling down at Henry. “More than words can ever describe.” She stood up and hugged Henry tightly. “I’m so sorry, Henry. How could I ever forget you?”
Henry brushed a strand of hair out of her face. “’Excuse me? My lady? May I have this dance?’” Henry smiled and held his hand out for her.
She took it, laughing and smiling like she hadn’t done so in months. “’Certainly, I’d be delighted.’ I think that’s what I said the first time I met you, wasn’t it?”
“Absolutely.” Henry beamed as they spun around the small room, being thrown back in time to their first dance when they met each other, that long time ago. “So you do remember me.”
A huge thank you to everyone who has read and followed this story right up until the very end! I hope you have all enjoyed the story. I'd also like to say a huge thank you to my brilliant friends who have also been reading the story and picking out any mistakes I have made. If you have noticed any that we have missed, I would really appreciate it if you could let me know! Thanks again guys! I hope I have done this story justice.
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