The Calling Card
As I sat on the bench near the garden, trying to stop my heart from beating out of my breast, I contemplated the pure absurdity of belief in any closed door staying closed.
I had grieved, and then resolutely moved on, after his departure. No, perhaps not with anyone but myself but that had been enough. I had grown stronger -- or so I believed. And yet, here I was, drawn back in time... or, more to the point, to all of the times.
To the day in the driving rain, peering through a veil of stormy obscurity; seeking out the face that had haunted me from my first vision of it.
To the unexpected introduction near the lake at the family estate.
To the plans, the secret meetings, the scent of lavender and grass when we would meet.
And, alas, to the courtyard in Belgium when I had believed that door not only closed, but bolted tightly and bricked up.
Yet, here laying on the book in my lap across a page of prose, lay a calling card.
My maid had met me after I arrived in the carriage. The roads had been very dusty and I swiped at my skirts, peeling my gloves from my hand as she held out the silver tray. On it, a single card.
It seemed that the walls first closed in, and then stretched outward. I barely heard her voice asking if I was feeling alright.
I glanced back at the house, realizing that I had just tread the same steps that he had; how long ago?
Edward Stafford. In my home while I was away. Edward.
His name pealed in my mind like the largest bell of any cathedral and a knot grew in my throat. The heated tears rising and then cascading down my cheeks as I sat in the waning light, the scent of lavendar and grass pervading my senses.