The Fascinating Widow

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Destiny can bring people many surprises, good and bad.

Submitted: September 07, 2014

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Submitted: September 07, 2014

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THE FASCINATING WIDOW

Hazel was a young woman who didn’t go out to work, but stayed at home to help out her mother to run the large house they lived in. She was quite independent, even though she was at home all day every day. Hazel was able to go out and do exactly what she wanted to do once the housework had been done. Hazel had just come in from doing the Saturday morning shopping. She had emptied the shopping onto the kitchen table and her mother was putting it away. The house was big and draughty, and there was never enough time to get it all clean at once, so Hazel did the shopping on Saturday mornings and her mother, Janette, put everything away. Then the two would go over the house for any signs of dust and untidiness. Hazel’s sister, Violet, named after her mother’s favourite flower, worked in a department store selling hair products, so didn’t do much work at home for the simple reason she was only at home all day Sunday, and the other days of the week, was there at night in order to have supper, a bath, and go to bed. Hazel and her mother were closer because they saw more of each other. After everything had been put into cupboards and the fridge, Hazel made tea for Janette and herself, it was a moment of relaxation in what was a very busy morning.

The tea break over, Hazel opened one of the three newspapers that they had delivered to the house every Saturday. The main item of news that caught Hazel’s eye, was about nothing more nor less than a scandalous divorce case, where a wife was accusing another woman of stealing her husband. There were a couple of not very good photographs, but what attracted Hazel to reading the column was the description that the judge gave to ‘the other woman’ in the summing up, saying. “Madam, it may be you felt lonely after your husband died, but you shouldn’t go around breaking up other families. As for the unfaithful husband, it’s easy to understand how he fell for this fascinating widow - but it isn’t correct.” The judge went on about other things, and then said the case was over. Both parties would have to wait for a few months for the divorce to become final. Hazel was curious as to what ‘the fascinating widow’ was like. She read through the rest of the paper, and then went out shopping again for a few things she had forgotten. All the time she was out she wondered what a woman had to be like to be called ‘fascinating’. She looked at her mother and sister and the other women in the district where they lived, and none of them could be called fascinating - by a long shot.

While eating their lunch, Hazel told her mother about ‘the fascinating widow’ and what she knew of the divorce case. “I don’t understand some people, they seem to complicate their lives for nothing. The wife whose husband strayed is a bit simple, isn’t she? The romance between her husband and the widow won’t last long, and it might already be over. Come on, eat up, we have to put the washing machine on again and hang the first wash up in the laundry room.” Janette told Hazel, so that her daughter wouldn’t get distracted by the gossipy story she had read in the paper.

 

Isabelle, who lived alone with her two sons, was at home in another district of the same town where Hazel and her family lived. She felt lucky that names had been left out of the newspapers. Her two sons, who were at a flash boarding school, would not have to see her name dragged through the mud. She had met Ivan at a social club dance. Isabelle didn’t, as a rule, go by herself to dances, but had wanted to dress up for once and had turned up, albeit alone. On the other hand Ivan’s wife had cried off at the last minute preferring to stay at home, than spend time dressing up for another typically boring social dance. Isabelle and Ivan were both alone, so it was inevitable that they would drift together, which they did, at a card table where they had sat down and joined in with the others who were also bored out of their minds. They had started seeing each other for no other reason than that they felt lonely. Their relationship was superficial, it was for having a drink or just a chat, nothing more profound than that. They hadn’t fallen in love, and weren’t likely to. Ivan’s wife had found out through using a private detective to keep an eye on Ivan, and had informed her that they were having dates, and the irritated wife wouldn’t believe a word that Ivan told her about seeing Isabelle for company and not for anything physical.

The wife’s lawyer had done his job well, and had ended the marriage. Isabelle had broken off with Ivan a long time before the divorce case was heard in the court. By the time Isabelle had been summoned to appear in court, she had lost all interest in Ivan, and she had ignored the judge’s words. When Ivan had told his ex-wife there had never been an affair, and that Isabelle had gone out of his life, she had responded that she had met another man whom she knew wouldn’t let her down. Ivan had been the unfortunate victim of an unscrupulous wife, and vowed to stay away from women for ever.

 

Many years later, when the dust had settled on the drama of ‘the fascinating widow’ and Ivan losing his family and his home, Hazel had got married to Carl, who was the best looking man she knew, but had turned out to be the worst kind of husband a woman could wish for, and they had got a divorce. The two children they had together, were better looking than most, so that of course was some kind of compensation. Hazel was then a single parent, and had to work, even though she had inherited money from the sale of her family home. She used work as a distraction more than a necessity to help time pass. Carl was always pleading poverty, when everyone knew he had access to money, albeit his new wife’s bank account. Carl had written off his son and daughter when he had remarried, and for many years had never set eyes on them. When his second wife turned out to be barren, he then made the decision to try and get to know his children with Hazel. Of course, they weren’t interested in him.

 

Hazel felt lonely at first on being single again. After the stories she had gone through with Carl, she had no desire to lean on her children, and began going to different courses and semi-religious meetings. Those who attended the meetings were like Hazel - all looking for happiness. The only problem was, as Hazel discovered, they were all in the same boat, and no one was strong enough to take on another person. At the meetings there was usually a talk, and then tea and biscuits were served, which bored Hazel to bits. She thought, if she wanted tea and biscuits, she had no need to leave her home and hang around in a dingy hall. She felt that she needed mental stimulation.

Hazel worked in a large building in a law office doing the accounts. It was tedious but well-paid, and she kept at it for the pension. Downstairs, just inside the entrance, there was a huge notice board with one announcement pinned above or below another. One day, Hazel stood staring at the notices, and saw there were enough different ones for all types. The one that attracted her most, was about a man who could speak to the dead. Hazel asked herself, ‘Why should anyone want to speak to the dead, when they probably couldn’t stand them during their lifetime?’ Hazel’s children used her home as a bolt hole, meaning that she spent the majority of her evenings alone with the television or the YouTube. The idea of speaking to the dead appealed to her as an entertainment more than anything.

The date of the meeting came round, and Hazel went to the meeting hall, arriving punctually. As it was the first meeting on the first Friday in the month of September, when summer holidays were almost a distant memory, and nobody had yet made themselves an autumn/winter timetable of events to assist, then it was quite well attended. On the podium there was a row of hard-backed chairs on which there was sitting a selection of different people for different things. Some of the men were interested in metaphysics, both physical and spiritual healers were present, and clairvoyants, and then, of course, the mediums who actually spoke to the dead, or got in touch with them by listening or by touching something of theirs. Then some mediums just picked up the voice of a dead person, like someone who finds they’ve tuned into an unknown radio station. Hazel noticed that the hall was pretty full, and there were more or less the same number of men and women. For the first hour, those who spoke were introducing themselves, and making an effort for those who were there for the first time, not to feel left out or strange. For the older members, all they had to do was continue with what they had been doing the year before. Some got up and told of psychic experiences they had had during the summer. Hazel looked around her and saw everyone was looking towards the speaker on the podium. It was while she was being restless, that she saw a head of the loveliest white hair she had ever seen.

An intermission that occurred about halfway through the meeting, was when everyone started getting closer and summing each other up. Hazel was amazed by the lady’s white hair, she had never seen anything so lovely. Hazel was never one to be slow in coming forward, so she approached the lady, “Hello, I’m Hazel. This is my first time here. Can I get you something to eat or drink?”

The white-haired lady said in reply, “I’m Isabelle, and I came here a fair number of times last year, right through to the summer. What is the motive for your coming here tonight?”

“I live by myself, and to be really honest, I’m rather lonely, and would like to meet people who are interested in something more than talking about what they’ve seen on television, or have eaten, or clothes they’ve bought. I don’t need any of that. There has to be more to life.”

Isabelle gazed at Hazel, and said, “You won’t get silly conversations here. The majority who come here have better things to do with their time. We are all here because we lack something in our lives and we are looking for inner peace.”

A bell rang and the second part of the evening began, which had the highlight that all had been waiting for. A medium climbed onto the podium, sat down on the single chair that was placed in the centre, and began to go into a trance. There was total silence in the hall, then the medium began talking in a different voice. Some of those who were there responded to what she said, and others just sat and listened. Hazel wondered how long she would have to attend before getting someone coming through for her.

The meeting finished at half-past eight and they slowly made their way to the exit. There in the street outside the hall, Hazel saw Isabelle get into a car and drive off. She was a bit peeved as she had hoped that she had made contact with someone new.

 

During the following week, Hazel read up as much as she could about the meeting hall. She decided to try out something else the following weekend. She had no desire to let Isabelle or anyone else think she was a clinging type of woman.

As luck would have it, before she had made up her mind on what to do, Hazel went to a department store to have a look at the collections for autumn and winter. She saw several things that would liven up her home and make it more colourful. Hazel wandered around slowly. She was in no hurry.

“Hello, Hazel, how are you?” Hazel turned her head and saw Isabelle standing very near her.

“Hello, Isabelle, how are you?”

“Shall we have tea or coffee together? Not in a hurry are you?” Isabelle asked.

“No, I’m not in a hurry, but I’d like to look round a bit more, if you don’t mind,” Hazel answered.

She knew she had been a bit short with Isabelle, but she never wanted anyone to think she was at their disposal just when they wanted. Hazel went off on her rounds, and Isabelle walked off to the cafeteria. Hazel noticed that Isabelle walked rather badly, as if she were limping. She felt bad, and then followed Isabelle to the cafeteria.

“I’ve decided I’ve had enough looking for one day. What shall we have, here?” Hazel said, as she sat down opposite Isabelle.

“I’ll have coffee and toast,” Isabelle said, smiling at Hazel.

“I’ll have the same, it’s easier for them,” Hazel said, indicating the waitresses. Hazel sat staring at the distinguished lady.

“Hazel, I’d appreciate it if you came to lunch with me at my house, some time when you can, of course.”

“That would be rather pleasant, thank you,” Hazel said, thinking that she would see how Isabelle lived. “Isabelle, I’m thinking of going to a different meeting hall this Friday, to see what another one would be like.”

Isabelle said, “That’s a good idea. I don’t go to the same one every week, otherwise the other members of the congregation think of you as a permanent fixture. I go because I need to go somewhere out of the house. And you, Hazel, why did you go?”

“I live alone, and my children use the house as a bolt hole, and that’s not good enough. They have to see that I should have an independent life.”

“That’s good. I feel the same. I’ll see you at my house next week, then. Wednesday all right?”

“That’s fine.” Hazel said.

 

When she got home after paying a visit to another store in town, Hazel looked at Isabelle’s address. They lived quite near each other. Hazel went to another meeting hall that Friday and discovered that there was more than one way to reach the dead. The people who attended were not so unlike the others at the first meeting she had gone to. In some ways this was a comfort, and she thought that she recognized some of those who where present. One gentleman went up to her and asked, “Were you at a meeting last week at the meeting hall in Pearl Street?”

“Yes, I was, it was my first visit.”

“I thought so. My name is Thomas Hart,” and he held out a hand to Hazel, who took it and told him her name.

Hazel was surprised at his behaviour. “Do you see anyone else who was at last Friday’s meeting?”

“Yes, there are four of us here. In this area of life associated with the spirit world, we go from place to place, based on who’s going to be the speaker or medium.”

“Thank you. Now I’m beginning to get the idea. It’s quite flexible, then?”

“For some, not for others, who prefer a more permanent situation.”

 

When Hazel got home, she thought she had done the right thing in getting out, even if she hadn’t really accomplished much, other than getting herself out of the house and meeting new people.

 

Wednesday arrived and on the way to Isabelle’s, Hazel bought her a couple of beautiful plants and a huge box of chocolates. That day, although it was windy, the rain had not made an appearance, and the walk to Isabelle’s house was rather pleasant. Hazel had to cross a main road and then walk down a couple more streets before arriving at Isabelle’s front door. She had noticed that the houses were not as grand as where she lived, and asked herself why she had the opinion that something nasty had happened to Isabelle.

Isabelle had been waiting for Hazel, as was given away by the speed with which she had opened the front door. Hazel smiled at her new friend, and gave her the two presents. She looked round her and saw that the furniture was a mixture of antiques and cheap. The dining-table was beautifully laid, and there were lovely crystal glasses.

“Are you expecting someone else apart from me for lunch?” Hazel asked.

“No, I’m not. We’ll be alone for lunch. Why do you ask?”

“The table is a delight to the eyes.”

“I haven’t had a visitor in a long time. I live here alone with my second son, who is single, and due to his work, he has irregular hours, and he eats out more often than not.”

The food lived up to the beautiful table, and Hazel really enjoyed her lunch more than she could have imagined. When the table was cleared and the dishes washed and put away, as insisted by Hazel, the two ladies sat down on the sofa in the comfortable sitting-room, and Isabelle got out photo albums and began showing the contents to Hazel, who happily gazed at the old pictures. She saw they began with a wedding of a young Isabelle dressed in a very old-fashioned wedding dress, hanging off the arm of a rather stiff looking man in a morning suit. Those photos were followed by two little boys born very close to each other. As she turned the pages, Hazel felt as if she were seeing Isabelle’s past coming to life. Then all of a sudden the albums ended.

“What happened that you don’t have any more albums?” Hazel asked puzzled.

“My husband died, and I lost all interest in taking photos, and other things.”

They sat in silence, and then Isabelle got up from her chair and went to a drawer and took out some buff envelopes. She said to Hazel, “Listen to me before I show you what’s inside. I got married when very young to a man much older than me. He was very well off. We were happy enough together and had two sons. My husband treated me as if I were made of porcelain. I never did anything in the house. We had maids and a nanny for the boys till they went away to school. Life was wonderful, idyllic really. The boys were sent to a public school and we had holidays abroad while they were away. Then after those fantastic years my husband took sick, and died in a short time. My life took a turn for the worse, the boys still continued at the school, but I had no desire to go on holiday by myself. I was very lonely, and hadn’t realized until it happened, how much my husband had made me dependent on him. One day at a dinner at a social club, I met a man and we started talking. I didn’t know who he was, only his name, but at least he paid me some of the attention I was missing since my husband had died. We saw each other a few times and then I told him I was not interested in getting to know him any better. The next thing I knew I was called the co-respondent in a divorce case. The judge accused me of breaking up a marriage, when nothing of the sort had taken place. When the case was heard, I had forgotten about Ivan and had moved on with my life. From what I read in the papers, I was called ‘the fascinating widow’. You have no idea how I felt. At that time we were living in another house. As time went by, I found another man and got married again. It was a big mistake, I let the money left by my first husband be spent by the second. I got another divorce as soon as I knew what was going on. My son and I moved here very soon after. Well, I wanted you to know the story, because I felt you would understand why I go to the meetings.”

“Why do you go?” Hazel asked, still trying to get over her new friend’s sad tale.

“I’m dying, and I’d like to meet up with Thomas, my first husband, again, or at least have his help in my last moments.”

Hazel sat frozen in her place on the sofa, “You can’t possibly know when you’re going to die, so why don’t you just get on with life?”

“I don’t want to. I feel I’ve no energy left. At the moment, I’m waiting for my second son to find a wife, and then I shan’t worry about him any more.”

Hazel got up, and said. “I hope you feel more cheerful soon, for your own sake.”

 

Hazel went home and sat in the kitchen and thought about what Isabelle had told her. The papers in the envelopes had been cuttings from the divorce case and her being labelled ‘the fascinating widow’. The paper was yellow with age, and did anyone really care what had happened so long ago? Hazel felt sad for Isabelle, who hadn’t moved on from a doting husband, and had only met up with losers.

She sat at the table for a few minutes longer, and rang Isabelle, “Isabelle, do you fancy going for a beach break and getting suntanned?”

“At this time of the year?” asked her incredulous friend.

“Yes, come on, it’ll do you and me good. Have you got an up-to-date passport?”

“Yes, I have, Hazel. Where are you thinking of going?”

“To a place where the two of us can enjoy ourselves instead of moping all the time.”

“Just what I need. I knew you’d come up trumps!”


© Copyright 2018 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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