Lizzie in Modern

Lizzie in Modern
A Re-telling of Ch. 34 of Pride and Prejudice

Lizzie waited till the last sputtering of the Collins’s sedan faded into the distance, content to be alone with only her thoughts for companions. She peered out the thick paneled windows, but the steady drizzle of spring rain obscured her view of the garden. Her laptop sat on the mahogany desk a few feet away, beckoning. She could feel herself chewing on her fleshy bottom lip. Her fingers interwove with her hair, tugging at her roots.
“Oh, screw it,” she said. She slid into the swivel chair and flicked open the decrepit mac-book with such haste it was as if some divine power intended for her to become even more exasperated with Will. She scanned all of Jane’s recent emails. The emails appeared as pleasantly concise as ever upon first glance, nothing of Bingley or of their recent falling out. But Lizzie could hear the morose quality that seemed to seep through the screen. These emails presented a complete shift in disposition, an absence of the cheer that had characterized pre-breakup Jane. She rubbed her tired eyelids. Her head roiled with thoughts of Will and the misplaced joy he felt from separating her sister and Bingley. Her only comfort came from the knowledge that Will would be returning to New York the day after next, and soon she’d be home to console her sweet sister. For now, all she could do was watch the rain fall and drink her tea.
She had only been sitting for a few minutes when the doorbell rang. She was more puzzled than irritated by this interruption of her solitude. Who would be out and about this late on a Sunday? Perhaps Charlotte had forgotten her purse. Lizzie slid on a worn cotton hoodie. The doorbell echoed again through the foyer.
“I’m coming,” she yelled. She raced down the front staircase, slowly opened the door and peeked her head around. To her utter amazement, she beheld Will Darcy, his black hair matted and dampened and his pale skin soaked to the core.
“It would seem Seattle is even less suited to you than you are to it,” she said curtly. Unsure how to proceed, he pursed his lips.
“How are you?” he asked.
“And your family?”
“They’re all well, I believe.” Lizzie examined the worn toes of her socks, suddenly self-conscious about her tired and disheveled appearance. Even drenched, Will looked suave and debonair. The silence between them grew and magnified and Will began to wonder if Lizzie would even let him inside.
“Sorry, but can I come in?” he said. “It’s a bit cold out here.”

She blinked as if awakening from a dream and blushed from her obvious lack of manners. “Of course, let me take your coat.”

Lizzie led Will to the kitchen where his dampness wouldn’t ruin any furniture. She put the kettle back on, wistfully remembering her cup of now lukewarm tea sitting upstairs. While Lizzie got two cups down, Will scooted his chair nearer to the archaic space heater the Collins kept in the kitchen.

“I had meant to come see you earlier in the week, but I heard you were ill,” Will said, irritated by the pathetic spurts of heat coming off the space heater. Lizzie wondered if Will realized it was his aunt who refused to pay for any heating or air conditioning in the Collins’s tiny house.

“Just a cold, nothing serious,” Lizzie’s reply echoed from the pantry. She returned with two fresh tea bags. The pair sat in silence as Will watched Lizzie make the tea and she pretended not to notice his furtive glances. He appeared agitated, and his agitation gnawed at the ends of her frayed nerves. She hoped the tea would help. As she slid the faded blue teacup across the Collins’s kitchen table to Will, he emerged from his trance and grabbed hold of her delicate outstretched wrist.

“What are you doing?” She asked in shock.

“I know this is a bit unorthodox,” he said.

“It’s insane. Let go of me.”

He relented. “I’ve been running every theoretical outcome of this situation in my head, and I don’t see any way around it. I’m in love with you.” Lizzie’s mouth dropped open in shock. His words inundated her senses. Completely bobbled, she could smell the faint patter of rain on the roof, could hear the warm tangy aroma of the untouched herbal teas.

“Please say something.” He searched her face for some faint indicator of emotion like a lighthouse lookout searching for ships at sea.

“I’ll take your silence as some sort of assurance,” he continued. “I confess a part of me still feels like I’m going against my better judgment.” He proceeded to bumble through a description of the immense depth and breadth of his feelings for Lizzie. Unfortunately, these feelings were interwoven with what she felt were thinly concealed insults to her family and socioeconomic status.

Lizzie felt her cheeks bloom with rosy color. Her ego was inevitably flattered by the attention of such an impressive male specimen and the pragmatism in her could not ignore the economic advantages of such a relationship. But in this matter she was as resolute as a stone wall, as indefatigable as Moses, and her mind was made up long before he expressed these sentiments. His self-assuredness only irked her further. In his mind there could be no doubt as to her response.

“I’m sorry to have ever caused you grief. That was certainly never my intent,” she began most cautiously. “But I’m fairly certain I will never reciprocate the feelings you’ve shared with me today.”
He attempted to swallow his surprise, but it was obvious this answer bewildered him. Every perfect feature swelled with anger. She beheld a new intensity in his eyes, an unprecedented pallor in his skin.

“Surely, you owe me a less curt reply,” he said. There it was, the sense of entitlement that she had come to dislike so much.

“I don’t owe you anything,” she said. He looked as if he’d been struck. He gathered his drenched belongings and without uttering another syllable drifted towards the front door. He glanced around the small foyer, cringing at the confidence and happiness he had experienced mere minutes earlier. Lizzie trod silently behind him, haunting his protracted steps. He stepped out into the rain before turning back to face her.

“I’m sorry to have wasted your time. I assure you it won’t ever happen again,” he said.

And with that he was gone. She could make out his figure trudging down the lane through the torrents of rain. The gravitational pull she always seemed to experience around him took hold, and she, too, stepped out into the downpour for a moment, letting the rain mix with her tears.

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