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The Handkerchief

As it flopped and fluttered in the wind, I thought back to what brought me here in the first place.
I was meeting my fiancé at the fanciest restaurant on this side of London. We had been engaged for two years and next June was set as our wedding day. As my carriage arrived, I looked up to see that the sky had more stars than imaginable. I thought it would be a good night. But I was wrong.
She arrived looking beautiful in her red velvet gown. As she approached, I saw her clutching the satin handkerchief she cherished so much. “Afternoon, my dear, Rachel,” I said beaming like a fool.
“Afternoon, Robert,” she said with a small, shy smile. I put it aside then, but if I had only known what would come next, I would have fled that moment. “We must talk,” she said in a dismal tone. I was so happy to see her; I didn’t even question her sighing.
“But first, a toast,” I said pouring her a glass of champagne. “To my beautiful fiancé, let our life together be long and wonderful.” When I said that last sentence her eyes cast to the floor, her hand playing with her handkerchief.

“Yes…well about that…” she carried out her last word, avoiding the next ones.
“What’s wrong, my dearest?” I thought she would just say she didn’t like the flat I had chosen to live in.
“Well… I…I just…I’m not sure if we should marry just yet,” her eyes wouldn’t meet mine. That moment my heart broke to the point of no repair. Even the paperboys sleeping in the gutters heard it crack.
“By just yet you mean…not at all?” I barely got those last words out, ‘not at all.’ How could such a wonderful pair become so far to the point of breaking off a wedding? I looked up at her. She was crying and her handkerchief was completely wet.
“I’m so sorry, Robert. But I have fallen in love with another man,” those last words were rushed and pushed out of her mouth. I knew she was talking of Dr. Calvin. She had visited him more often than normal. I had just avoided the thought. When she saw me come to the realization of whom she spoke, a fresh set of tears poured from her eyes. Her whole being shook from her sobbing.
Then I said words I never thought I would say, “I love you and care for you. If you truly love that man, and not me, then the wedding shall be called off. All I want is your happiness.” It was true that I loved her and her happiness was most important but the thought of her loving another hurt deeper than any wound any man has ever gotten in the worst of wars. The year being 1891 and being in London, England, this will bring great shame both her family as well as mine. Her then loving another man almost directly after me will make the shame worse.
She then stood up and said, “It is rude of me to take up more of your time,” she hiccupped from crying.
“Good-bye, my love,” slipped out of my mouth as she placed her handkerchief into my hand, kissed me on the cheek and departed with one last, “Good-bye, Dearest Robert.” I gingerly unwrapped the handkerchief to find the ring, the very same ring that had symbolized our love by being on her hand for the last 2 years.
Looking at the ring had made me relive all of our memories that that ring had been in; when I first gave in to her, when she thought she lost it and we went all over town to discover she had it on the wrong hand the whole time, but then the most dreaded memory that that ring had been in came to me. It was the day we both met Dr. Calvin. He had commented on how beautiful the ring was and how lucky of a man I was.

At that moment I decided to visit my parents up river in Oxford. They were going to come down river for the wedding so I thought I might as well stop them and this way I can explain why.
I left the money on the table for our champagne and had my carriage take me to the nearest ship yard. Me and my fiancé…I mean Rachel, were to take a trip to look at various churches for the wedding so my bags were already packed and in the carriage. I then proceeded to buy a ticket on the soonest leaving ferry.

That is where I am now. As I let her handkerchief go in the wind, I realized the words I told her, those last few words, were true and I had meant them. And now her handkerchief lightly landed on the water’s surface and my heart fell to rest.



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