A Montgomeryesque Piece of Fiction
Hothouse flowers. I hate them. I hate all of the memories that they bring. When I see them I smell rubbing alcohol, and I could find it in my heart to despise the folks for bringing them, though I know it is meant in kindness.
These white walls make me want to scream. My eyes have looked at white walls long enough. I'm going home soon.
I'm on the verge of my new chapter, and I desire to start afresh. No more white, and no more hothouse flowers. My sallow skin shall be the hue and texture of pink roses again, and I will dance.
But first comes rest. Oh! To rest in the lazy sunlight of my porch swing. I will ask my cousin Tabby to pile on my favorite cushions and quilts in preparation of my homecoming.
I'm home. Oh! How I've longed to say those words over the last dragging, grating months. This is surreal. I'm positively incandescent; even Tabby says I glow.
Tabby. Tabby is my Saint on earth. I could not live without her. She puts fresh flowers from the garden in a pitcher by my bed every morning, and lets me drink gallons of her herbal tea every day.
Lavender is my new best friend. I'll eat or drink anything with lavender in it! I even named my new small, purplish-grey kitten Lavender. She's so fluffy and softly hued that I simply couldn't help myself. She purrs until I fall asleep at night, and then wakes me in the morning with her wee, padded paws. She's my constant companion.
Tabby helped me out to my porch swing for the first time since my homecoming. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. The sunlight glowed so divinely that I cried; yes, I cried. It feels so good to be alive. Tabby says crying is a sign of healing, and I suppose she's right. She is always right, although she would never think that. She's too humble.
Tabby's name isn't truly Tabby: it's Tabitha Esmeralda Greyson, but she says that's too big a mouthful for any human being. Ever since we were just little tads of things she's been Tabby, and she'll always be Tabby to me, even when we're old and grey.
What is love? "Love is not love which alters when alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: oh no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken." Shakespeare can be respected as wise, at least, on that one count.
I have read until my eyes are bleary, but Tabby says I must rest them now.
I sit here in my cushioned swing, and I ponder on my past. I shudder to think of how close I came to deaths door, and by my own hand, no less. I was in town for the winter season with Judith Granger as my companion. Judith is my dearest friend (after Tabby, of course), so of course I was delighted to be with her. At the first ball of the season I was reintroduced to a dear old childhood friend. It was William Lowrey. He asked me for the first dance, and then the next, and the next. We danced the night away. For three whole months we danced and talked. Oh, how wise and kind he is! How I basked in the glow of his companionship. And then he was gone. He was off to be a soldier. I knew it was coming soon, yet it came quicker than he or I had anticipated. Within the month Judith handed me the newspaper clipping in which his name was listed under "Killed in action." My heart was crushed. I hadn't been able to say goodbye to him. I had written to him, but letters take so long getting through. I had no way of knowing if he had received it or not.
Foolish, foolish child that I was, I nearly killed myself with grief over him. I cried buckets of tears, and would speak to no-one, neither would I eat. My idiocy reached its climax when I, in an act of lonely desperation, swallowed a bottle of pills. Judith found me on the bedroom floor not a minute too soon. Only Tabby and Judith know what truly happened. The rest of the world thinks I merely danced myself nearly to death.
Thank God for Judith. I was rushed to the hospital where I received the best medical care for the following month. 'Twas the longest month of my life. Judith came nearly every day, and I had many other visitors besides. Judith wanted me to go back home with her for my convalescence, but no; I wanted Tabby. Tabby had written to say that she was lonesome for me, and wished for me to take up my residence with her. Permanently.
Oh, God! How gracious You are to me! Through Tabby You have shown me what true love and Christianity are. Life is worth living for Christ alone, through Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Life is worth living even without William.
I grow stronger. I can walk to the porch without the aid of Tabby's arm, and, once there, I feel free to roam between my swing and the steps. I love to sit on the lowest step, perched beneath the morning glory vines. I feel sure that Heaven will waft the fragrance of morning glories in its breeze, for is not Christ the Glory of our eternal morning?
Tabby scolds when I offer to help in the kitchen. But oh, how restless I am! I suppose I must content myself with roaming our woods and fields for time being. Tabby says I can face the heat of the kitchen when fall comes around, but not before then. Tabby also says that I've grown as pink as a rose again.
Judith sent me a letter. She inquired after my health, and then posed an odd question. She asked if I had heard news from any of the soldiers who have returned. My heart skipped a beat, but I know it could not be so. No, William was called to the Father's arms soon before the war ended. There is no hope of him returning home.
I was roaming through the beflowered fields yesterday morning at sunrise. My hat was off, and I was carefully gathering the dewy, wild primroses when I heard footsteps approach from behind. I turned, and saw him standing there with a blanket of light spread around his dear head and shoulders. Oh, I scarce can contain my rapture! William is alive and well. Joy! Joy! My heart knows no bounds.
I dropped my hat in speechlessness and stood, rooted to the ground. Oh, such shock I have never known. William whispered tenderly, lovingly.
"Do you know me, Edna?"
Yet still I could not move. My heart beat in my throat like a thousand drums, yet my tongue would not loose itself from the roof of my mouth. I ached to speak, to scream, to dance, yet move I could not.
My sweet William stepped closer. I could see the wrinkles in his grave smile, and the dark circles about his eyes. Tears began to fall freely from my own, trickling down my face. He reached out and touched my cheek, so tenderly. Still I was frozen. It was not until he gently took me in his arms that I softened.
"William," I cried upon his shoulder. "You are alive!"
"Yes, Dear, I am alive. God brought me home to you. Dear, is it true, what Tabby says? Is it true that you are still free?"
I laughed. Oh, how jubilantly I laughed!
"Yes, William; I am free."
And then William said--but no, on second thought I shall not repeat his words. They are to be written only between his heart and mine.
William returns my love, and we are to be married in a month's time. How happy I am, and how good God is to me! I shall dance at our wedding with a light heart, for the Lord has set me free from the bondage of self-pity, and raised me up to heights of unfathomable love.