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Never Forget Love
Written in a highschool creative writing class, "Never Forget Love" is a story of love and loss that shares the tale of a romance from the French Revolution. Though the protagonist and her lover suffer greatly this shortstory proves true love is never truely forgotten.
In southern England there is a small orphanage called White Orchid Orphan Home. The name of the petite matron of the orphanage is Nicole Agard. There are seven children in the home: Callum Byrne at age eight, Charlie Evans at age five, John Davies at age ten, Thomas Smith at age six, Elizabeth Roberts at age three, Victoria Williams at age seven, and Olivia Taylor at age twelve.
As every day since founding the orphanage, Nicole washes the dinner dishes as Olivia puts them away for her.
“Miss Agard?” Olivia started hesitantly.
The elderly woman turned to the young girl with a warm smile.
“What is it ma belle enfant?” Nicole asked, lapsing into her native tongue.
“Why didn’t you have a husband?” Olivia questioned.
Nicole let out a sad chuckle as she looked down at the plate in her hand.
“That’s a longue histoire, mon jeune.”
“Please tell me,” Olivia begged, looking up at the older woman with large gray eyes.
Olivia sighed before beginning to speak again.
“It was 1794. There had been a lot of revolutions, saddened people fighting against the government's whom they held responsible. First Scotland, then the American colonies, then in my own homeland. At that time, the French revolution was at its peak. As you know, I was born and raised in France. I had been a seamstress since I was a very little girl. My family had six children. Two, my older sister and younger brother, passed away in infancy because we didn’t have much money for food or medicine. Four children were still too many for my parents to feed, so I was apprenticed to a seamstress in exchange for food and shelter. After at time, I grew to be an expert. The queen, Marie Antoinette, liked a dress that I made for her and paid me enough that I was able to move out and start my own shop. That shop was where my real story began.”
On the eastern side of France, the Place du Trone-Renverse, was home to the most active guillotine in the whole country. It was just east of the Bastille, which had been stormed at the beginning of the revolution. Located five minutes from the much-used weapon of slaughter was the Picpus Cemetery where decapitated bodies were thrown into a giant pit. Five minutes on the opposite side of the guillotine was the small clothing shop home of the twenty-year-old seamstress, Nicole Agard.
The shop was small and run down. The paint was chipping from the sides, and the roof was sagging inwards. Inside the shop, was a room cluttered with fabric. The windows failed to bring much light into the small building. Instead, the drafty room was lit by oil lamps, which sat on every open surface. At a desk in the back of room, Nicole was working diligently on a dark blue gown. Her long curly brown hair was held up in a bonnet to keep it out of her face as she worked.
The door to the old run down shop opened. The small bell over the door rang. Nicole’s face remained turned down, focusing on her stitching.
“One moment, I’ll be there once I finish this,” she called out.
The figure moved his hand to silently close the lock on the door before quietly maneuvering through the disorganized room towards the desk where Nicole was working by the small flame of one of many oil lamps. The brown-haired woman’s dark brown eyes were focused on her task, absorbing all of her attention. Her dulled senses failed to notice the man approaching behind her.
She finished the hemming of the dress which she had been working on, and reached her arms up into the air. She stretched her sore shoulders and back, which had been hunched over the dress since dawn’s first light. As she did so, the man behind her wrapped his arms around her torso. The surprisingly strong, thin arms pulled her back towards his warm body, his long soft fingers gently grasping at the old, worn out, once-white apron, which covered her plain gray dress.
“My beloved Nicole,” he murmured into the crook of her neck.
At the familiar words, the young woman calmed down, no longer concerned for her safety. She didn’t have to turn her head to know exactly who was speaking to her.
“I’m trying to work Anthony.”
He let out a long sigh, his warm breath tickling her neck.
“I want to snatch you away from here so that you’ll never have to work another day of your life. Then I can defend you like any man in his right mind would do for a woman such as you,” Anthony crooned as he buried his neck further into her neck.
Nicole glanced over her shoulder at the tall, stooped man.
“That sounds like an off-handed proposal,” she said in a playful tone.
Anthony and Nicole had known eachother since they were young. They had been lovers since before Anthony left for college in England five years before. Since his return a few months prior, he’d been discussing the possibility of making her his one and only love.
Anthony’s face burned bright red as he turned it away slightly.
“Perhaps… Would it be so horrible if I was?”
“You already know my answer to that,” she replied wistfully, as she looked at the burning lamp on her desk.
Her gaze quickly returned to her lover when she felt him trembling against her. His hands tightened on her clothing, as if afraid she’d slip through his fingers and vanish. As she looked back she noticed his usually shimmering black eyes were pinched closed, trembling like the rest of his body. The under lid seemed slightly damp in the dancing light of the fire as if he were starting to cry.
“Nicole…” Anthony started, his voice strained to remain steady. “I will protect you with my life.”
Nicole let out a small sigh before speaking, “You don’t need to protect me, I’m fine. No one wants to harm me.”
“I don’t want to lose you,” he added, ignoring Nicole’s attempt to comfort him.
Nicole pulled away and looked at him. The two pairs of dark eyes locked onto each other, glittering ever so lightly in the flickering light. Her hand moved to brush away a long strand of black hair that had fallen from his ponytail. She then returned it to his cheek, holding it ever so gently like glass.
“You won’t lose me,” she promised.
“What if they take you away from me?” he asked, his voice faltering.
“Why would they?” she replied soothingly.
Despite what she had said, she was very well aware of why he was concerned. After the overthrow of the king and queen of France, the masses had been executing everyone who opposed them or who might oppose them. Many of those considered to be a possible threat were the ones who had received money from the crown. Nicole’s shop was only still surviving the trying times because she had often made clothing for the royal family, who were able to pay more generously than the common people.
“How many men and women have lost their lives to the guillotine? Innocent people who had nothing to do with the government. You and I are as likely as the next man,” he cried, becoming noticeably angrier.
She recognized the truth of his words. Just a few days before, sixteen nuns were killed because they refused to obey the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary government, which mandated the suppression of their monastery. If a government could slaughter nuns without remorse, what was stopping them from killing anyone? Yet Nicole cast the thoughts from her mind, determined that things would work out. Her level head had seen her through everything thus far.
“Anthony, my love, you’re being ridiculous. We will be fine,” she told him in a soft voice before giving him a hug.
Her head pressed against his chest, as she listened to the comforting sound of his beating heart.
“I will never let them have you,” he said, holding her tightly
She smiled again before speaking, “I know.”
“I love you.”
“And I love you.”
Anthony pushed away to look at Nicole. His strong, prominent features heightened his serious expression, sending shivers up and down Nicole’s spine.
Tears brimmed in Nicole’s eyes as she fell back into his arms.
“Yes, my answer has always been yes,” she replied.
“Will you let me take you far away from here? We can move to England and I can become a lawyer. We’ll have plenty of money and a big enough house for as many children as we want. If we go there I know that I can protect you forever,” he pleaded.
She let out of a hum of agreement as she nodded.
“That sounds wonderful.”
The two lovers held each other, neither one regretting their decision to leave the place far behind and start over. With the money Nicole had been saving for emergencies, they would have the money to get that new house and food until Anthony found work. They were content with the fact that their lives would be perfect.
The now engaged couple were broken out of the joyous fantasy by as knock on the door.
“Nicole Agard, open up, we know you are in there,” an angry voice called from the other side.
Nicole’s heart rate increased and she began to feel like she couldn’t breathe. Anthony looked down at her, fear shining in the darkness of his eyes.
“Hide,” he whispered as he opened a nearby wardrobe.
He pushed his fiancee down into the corner placing as much loose fabric over her as he could. He then pushed the hangers around the upper bar trying to make them look inconspicuous while concealing the young girl. He flashed the girl one last smile before closing her into the darkness. Soon after the door closed there was the sound of wood on wood as Anthony barricaded her in.
Nicole sat there silently, the sound of her heart drummed in her ears. She bit her lip as she silently prayed that Anthony would be alright.
The knocked on the door turned to jarring slams and splintering wood. The mob outside was breaking down the door. It only took six hits before the door gave out in a loud crash. Footsteps flooded the room.
“Where is Ms. Agard.”
“She isn’t here. She went out for a while. She won’t be back until much later,” Anthony replied.
“Men search the house.”
“I told you she’s not here and I refuse to let you destroy her shop.”
“Then tell us were she is.”
“England,” Anthony replied bodly. “I sent her away so none of you could touch her.”
“He’s one of them. Arrest him.”
“Heh, go ahead. I’m just defending my fiancee’s shop which has serviced many of you. Arresting me is futile. It won’t stand up. Even in your puppet courts,” Anthony challenged.
“What court? You already admitted to your crime. It’s straight to the guillotine with you.”
Nicole tried to open the door to the wardrobe to to surrender herself and save him, but the door wouldn’t budge. She would have to break down the door to get out.
Within a span of seconds, there were sounds of footsteps and things being thrown around. Then the door slammed and there was silence. Nicole sat there for a moment, her whole body shaking as tears leaked down her face. Her hand was held tightly over her mouth, pinching her nose so no sound could unwillingly escape and alert those who had been in the room.
Anthony was gone. They had taken him. Anthony was gone. He sacrificed himself for her.
She slumped over, letting herself breathe again. No one was there anymore. They were too focused on Anthony to remember to look for her.
The young woman threw herself against the door of the wardrobe, ignoring the bruise forming. Eventually the wardrobe burst open, freeing the woman who then ran out of the back door. She followed the narrow back alleys to reach the Place du Trone-Renverse were she knew her beloved would be.
A light drizzle soaked the path underfoot, chilling her to the bone. She felt none of it, all she could feel was desperation to save Anthony. She wanted to save him. There was nothing else in the world she wanted more than him.
As she grew closer she could hear the horrid sound of the executioner’s bell singing out it’s song, commanding people to come watch the scene unfold. She skidded to a stop as she came within eyesight of the deadly weapon. Nicole watched in horror as her beloved fiancee was forced out of the wagon and up onto the stage with the guillotine.
“Anthony,” she breathed, tears pouring down her face.
Anthony’s defeated eyes scanned the crowd and brightened when he saw Nicole. He gave her a sad smile as he was pushed down to his knees. His head was then trapped in the old, blood stained lunette.
Nicole reached out helplessly to the figure in the distance. Something in his eyes had begged her not to move, not to lose her life as well and make his sacrifice in vain. She hugged herself and cried as she looked away from the executioner who had let go of the rope.
“Antoine, je t'amoure.”
The dull, blunt blade thunked against the wood. The wicker basket rustled loudly as it gained new content. Nicole, unable to stand being there anymore, turned and ran away without a second thought. She went home, grabbed a few essentials, and fled the unsettled land, so soaked in the blood of the innocent.
At the outskirts of the town she glanced back at the place she had once called home. The cold drizzle and low lying black clouds, obscured the view as if it was just some distant illusion from a bad dream.
She took a deep breath, headed for the distant docks, and never looked back.
“But you were young, you could have still married someone.” Olivia says when Nicole finishs her story.
The elderly woman gave the younger girl a sad smile.
“I could have, young one, but I never found someone who loved me so deeply as to die for me.” Nicole states wistfully. “I will love Anthoney until my dying breath, just as he did.”