Escape/Shadows #writephoto

shadows

Copyright Sue Vincent

It was like a prison.  This institution or fortress with its many gates.  Were they keeping people out or people in?  She stood in the shadows, watching and waiting, hoping to one day, slip through those gates and disappear.  What would she be leaving behind?  Only misery and intolerable conditions.  She hated it.  How she wished she had never been brought here.  She had put up a fight and protested vehemently but her efforts were ignored and her cries fell on deaf ears.  Big, strong hands had lifted her up and deposited her resolutely into the carriage.  Away, she went, from the place she had called home since she was a child, clutching her rag doll, her eyes wide with fear and a sense of foreboding because she was going to a strange place miles and miles away from home.

The journey was a long and tedious one.  As the carriage bumped along the unending and twisting roads which were illuminated at one point by the sun and then the next by the moon, she felt her eyelids growing heavy.  She had fought to stay awake because she wanted to see where she was going so that she could find her way back home but sleep won.  The next time she opened her eyes, she was here.  The carriage had stopped in the courtyard and the building loomed above her like an ogre, the light of the moon giving it a ghastly look.  She shivered not from the cold but from what might be inside those walls.

The door creaked open and a tall, willowy blonde woman emerged.  She spoke to the driver, took the suitcase from him and then turned to her as the carriage drove away.  “Hello, Janet,” she greeted the little girl who watched the carriage disappear into the night along with her hopes.  “You must be weary from your journey.  Come along.”  She held out her hand.

Janet took it and allowed herself to be taken through the enormous door, into a large foyer and up a staircase.  She was taken to a room which had rows of beds.  The lady led her to a bed in the corner and put her suitcase beside it.  “Are you hungry?” she asked.

Janet was but she shook her head.  Her brown eyes large in her small face.  She was ten years old but looked younger.  She removed her bonnet to reveal a head of shocking red hair which matched the freckles on her face.

“Very well, then.  After you have unpacked, you may turn in now and I shall see you in the morning.  My name is Miss Foster.” She left a candle burning although, the room was adequately lit by the moon and left, her long skirts making a bustling sound as they brushed across the floor.

For several minutes she had stood there, wishing she were far away.  Then a yawn galvanized her into action.  She unpacked her suitcase, changed and slipped under the covers.  In less than five minutes, she was fast asleep.

That was the beginning of her nightmare.  She stood there now in the shadows, gazing beyond the gates, longing from freedom.  Then, she heard the bell, signalling that recess was over.  She turned and headed toward the building, her mutinous gaze caught sight of the sign above the door, Ravenwood Institution.  Yes, one of these day, she was going to run away from this miserable place.  The only person she would miss was Miss Foster who had been very kind to her.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Shadows  at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Source:  Fantasy Name Generators

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Misinformed/Summit #writephoto

summit

Copyright Sue Vincent

 

Emily’s face turned ashen.  “That cannot be true,” she exclaimed.  “You must be mistaken, Charlotte.”

Charlotte’s expression was one of great concern when she saw her cousin’s reaction to the news.  She took her hand and led her over to the sofa. After, she gently pushed her onto the seat, she sat beside her.  Holding her hands in hers, she said to Emily, her gaze unwavering, “I assure you, dear cousin, that I am not mistaken.  I received the news from a very reliable source.”

“May I inquire as to whom this source was?”

“His sister, Anne.  I was on my way to the drugstore when a fine carriage pulled up alongside me.  It was Anne.  She called me over and inquired after my family and my own health. And then, she announced that Edward was to be engaged to Mabel Turner.”

“Mable Turner?”  Emily looked aghast.  “That nasty little creature?”  Mabel Turner was the last person on the planet she would have expected Edward to have any romantic attachment to.  She was the most insufferable person she had ever had the misfortune of knowing.  They met when Emily’s older sister Viola was employed as Lady’s Maid for Mrs. Turner.

They instantly disliked each other.  Mabel disliked her because she was smart and clever and Emily disliked her because she was vain and pretentious.  She hated when Mabel called her “Mole face” because of the moles on her face and referred to the birthmark on her neck as “hideous”.  This discord between them continued into their teenage years and presently.

“Emily, I know about your history with Mabel, but you must put all of that aside.  She is Edward’s intended.  There must be something commendable about her character to stir the affections of a man such as Edward.”

Emily’s eyes flashed at her.  “I don’t know how she managed to get her claws in Edward but it had nothing to do with her character, I can assure you.”

Charlotte sighed.  “Whatever you might think of her she is to marry Edward.  The wedding ceremony is in a fortnight.”

Emily sucked in her breath sharply and tugging her hands from her cousin’s, she rose unsteadily to her feet.  She wrung her hands, the tears threatening to fall.  “How could he do this?” she cried, her voice a broken whisper.  “Oh, Edward.”

She threw herself onto the ottoman and broke down.

Alarmed, Charlotte rushed over to her and tried to put her arms around her but she pushed her away.  “Please leave.”

Charlotte drew back, her own face pale.  “Very well, dear.  I will leave you be but I shall call upon you in the morning.”

She turned and left the room, her skirts making a swishing sound.

After she was gone, Emily stayed there on the ottoman, weeping as the pain of Edward’s treachery ripped through her.  She thought he loved her.  The way he looked at her whenever they were together spoke volumes of his unprofessed love. So, why was he marrying someone else?  What made it unbearable and highly reprehensible was that it was Mabel, her mortal enemy.

Anger filled her and the sobs subsided.  Brushing her wet cheeks, she got up from the Ottoman and hurried from the room.  She was going to change and go for a long walk in the moors.   As she climbed the stairs to her room, Hilda, the housekeeper called out to her, “Miss Emily, Mr. Edward is here to see you.  He’s in the drawing-room.”

Emily’s heart lurched and her grip tightened on the handrail.  “Please inform Mr. Taylor that I’m not receiving any visitors today.”

“Mr. Edward said that he is here on a very important matter, Miss Emily.”

Fresh tears pricked her eyes.  He’s here to tell me about his engagement.  “Hilda, I don’t care why he’s here.  I don’t want to see him.  Send him away.”

“But, Miss Emily–”

“Send him away, Hilda.”

“Very well, Miss Emily.”  Hilda turned and scurried off.

Emily turned and ran back down the stairs, through the foyer and out of the door.  She headed for the summit, and didn’t stop running until she was at the top.  She leaned against the fortress, her cheeks flushed from the exercise.  Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath.  Below the sea continued on its unhurried pace and the sun hide behind the clouds.  A gentle breeze stirred the strawberry blond ringlets which framed her face.  Usually her place of solace and contentment, today it offered her neither.

She started when she heard a sound behind her and turned.  Her body stiffened when she saw Edward’s tall figure rapidly approaching her.   When he was standing in front of her, she glared at him, her green eyes hostile as they met his tawny ones.  “What are you doing here?” she demanded.  “I told Hilda to send you away.”

“I had to see you, Emily.”

“Why, what could you possibly have to say to me?”

“I came to clear up a misunderstanding.”

“What misunderstanding?”

“You are under the impression that I am to marry Mabel Turner.”

“Yes.  Your sister Anne had informed my cousin, Charlotte of your engagement.”  She looked away so that he couldn’t see the tears in her eyes.  “The wedding is in a fortnight.”

“Emily, your cousin has been misinformed.  There is no nor will there ever be such an occasion between Miss Turner and me.”

She looked at him.  “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that Miss Turner and I are not engaged nor are we ever likely to be.”

“But why would your sister say otherwise?”

“Anne and Miss Turner are dear friends and it has always been my sister’s wish that I would form a romantic attachment to her friend.  Even after she saw that my affections were engaged elsewhere, it did nothing to divert her intention to secure what she believe to be a very agreeable match.”

“So, you have no feelings for Mabel?”

He shook his head.  “No.  How could I have feelings for her or anyone else when my heart belongs to you?”  He moved closer, his expression earnest now.  “I need to know if my feelings are returned.”

She gazed up at him, squinting as the sun emerged from behind the clouds.  “They are,” she assured him.

He moved so that he was blocking her from the sun.  His eyes met hers in a steady gaze.  “Emily, will you make me the happiest man in the world by becoming my wife?”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.  The tears ran down her cheeks.

He took her hands in his.  “And now, that I have secured your consent, I must see your father and secure his as well.”

She smiled.  “I’m quite certain that he would not withhold it.”

 

 

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Summit for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

The Handkerchief/Crossing #write photo

crossing

Photo by Sue Vincent

Two years had passed since her sister died here.  She found her in the river, among the rocks under the bridge, barely alive.  Her words still haunted her.  As she held her in her arms, Rosemary gasped, “Dangerous…he…pushed…me…”

“Who’s dangerous?  Who pushed you? Rosemary?  Rosemary?”  There was no answer.  Only silence.  Her beloved sister was dead.  A stranger passing by found them and went to summon the police.  She was questioned and then released.  She told them what her sister had told her and they assured her that they would investigate but so far they hadn’t turned up any leads.

As Agatha sat there in the grass, the breeze gently stirring the fiery red curls which framed her oval face, she wondered who could have murdered Rosemary.  She was such a sweet person with a very amiable disposition.  She had always been very kind and loving toward her even though there was a considerable age difference between them.

After their parents died, unmarried Rosemary, devoted all of her attention on raising her younger sister, making sure that she continued to enjoy the finer things in life.  When it was time for Agatha’s coming out, Rosemary took her dinner parties, charity events and balls which Agatha liked best because she got to wear beautiful gowns, dance and meet possible suitors.  It was at one of these balls where she met Franklin.

Franklin was tall, stately and very handsome, the sort of man, a girl could only dream of or read about in romance novels.  He was charming, engaging and very intelligent.  He captivated her heart the very first time they met.  She had eyes for no other man at the ball although Rosemary advised her not to slight the others who had asked her to dance.  To please her, Agatha danced with them but on their way home in the afterwards, she made it very clear to her sister that Franklin had won her affections.  Rosemary agreed to invite Franklin to tea and after that he became Agatha’s suitor.  Months later, he asked for permission to marry her and they became engaged.

It was last summer on her twentieth birthday that they got married.  After they returned from their honeymoon in Venice, Rosemary announced that she was going to move out.  Agatha protested but her sister was adamant.  “You have Franklin to take care of you now,” she said.  “I won’t be far away, my Darling,” she promised.  “You can come and visit me as often as you like.”

“Only if you promise me that you will visit me as often as you like.”

Rosemary smiled.  “I promise.”

She moved out a couple of weeks later and Agatha watched her carriage drive away.  The house was not going to be the same without her.  Behind her, Franklin entered the room.  She felt his arms encircle her waist and she leaned against him.  “You have me now,” she heard him say and she closed her eyes.  Yes, she had the man she loved who could help her to get over the sadness she felt at seeing her beloved sister go.

They saw each other as often as was possible.  And at first Rosemary seemed well but gradually, she noticed a change in her.  And one afternoon, when she went home, she learned from Prescott that her sister had called for her.  In her note she had asked her to meet her at the river where they used to go sometimes.  When she got there, she found her sister laying there, a crumpled heap.  Minutes later, she died in her arms.

Rosemary was gone forever and not even Franklin could ease the heartache she felt.  Tears rolled down her freckled cheeks and brushing them away, she vowed, Rosemary, I will find out who took you away from me and he shall pay dearly. She got up and hustled to the waiting carriage, her skirt with its bustle sweeping the overgrown grass.

“Are you all right, Missus?” Fritt asked as he opened the door.

“I’m quite all right, Fritt.  Please take me home,” she said without glancing at him and she raising her skirt, she climbed into the carriage.

Franklin was at home when she arrived.  “What’s the matter?” he asked, looking alarmed when he saw that she had been crying.  He put his arms around her and hugged her.

“I went to the river,” she told him when they drew apart.

“You shouldn’t go there, Darling,” he said.  “You know how much it upsets you.”

She nodded.  “I know but I had to go.  Oh, Franklin, I miss her terribly, terribly.  She wasn’t just my sister, she was my best friend.”  Fresh tears fell.

“I know.  It was a tragic loss for both of us.  Here, dry your tears.”  He handed her a handkerchief.

She took it and was about to dry her eyes when she noticed something at the bottom right corner.  It was a gold R.  This is Rosemary’s handkerchief.  What was he doing with it?

Before she could ask him, Prescott the butler came into the room to announce that Mr. Willoughby the solicitor was waiting for him in the study.  “Thank you, Prescott.  Tell him that I will be with him shortly.”

After Prescott left, Franklin turned to her.  “You look about ready to collapse. It must be the heat.  Come, rest for a while.”  Putting his arms around her shoulders, he led her over to the sofa and after making sure she was comfortable, he went over to the decanter and poured her a glass of Brandy, his back turned to her.  “Here, drink this,” he suggested.  “It will help you to feel better.  I wish I could stay but I have business to attend to.”  He reached down and kissed her on the forehead before leaving the room.

Alone, she stood there for a few minutes and then went over to the sofa.  She sat down, her mind muddled as she fingered the initial on the handkerchief.  Why did Franklin have it?  There had to be a perfectly good explanation.  As soon as he was done with Mr. Willoughby, she would ask him.  What business did he have with the solicitor?  She sipped the Brandy.  It tasted bitter as did everything she had been eating and drinking lately.

 

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.  For more details click here.

Source:  Kate Tattersall;

Mr. Thornber

“Mr. Thornber,” his name spilled involuntarily from her lips.

“What the blazes are you doing in here, Miss Roth?” demanded the gentleman.  “You should be outside taking  a turn in the garden.  It is a very pleasant afternoon.”  In a few strides he closed the distance between them.  He stopped abruptly beside her, facing the fire, removing his gloves and warming his enormous hands which seemed to fascinate her at the moment as she replied to his inquiry.

“I was out in the garden earlier , Sir.  And yes, it is a very pleasant afternoon.  I was rather reluctant to come back inside but my duties to my pupil demanded that I do so.”

He turned to look at her and she met his stare, wondering if he had any idea of how delighted she was to see him.  The days he had been away had dragged.  The house seemed so empty and boring without his presence.   She had no idea that he would return today.  She hadn’t heard a carriage arrive and perceived that he had probably come by way of his horse.  She had seen him once on the black steed and thought what a fine figure he made…

“What have you been up to while I was away?” his inquiry jolted her back to the present moment.  She could feel her face grow red and hoped that he would attribute it to the fire.  She moved away from the fireplace and went back to the chair she had vacated before he came in.  She sank thankfully down into the soft cushions.  She hoped he did not think her rude from walking away like that.  As he crossed the room to where she was, she saw nothing in his countenance to indicate that he did.

He promptly took a seat in the chair nearby, his arm resting casually on the book on the table beside him, his head turned slightly to the right so he could look at her.

With her hands clasped in her lap as she returned his gaze, she replied, “Nothing outside of the ordinary.  When I am not teaching, or outdoors, I spend most of my time here reading.”

“What sort of books do you like to read?”

“Fiction, mostly but I like History and Philosophy__”

“Philosophy?” He looked surprised.  “Why should you like Philosophy?”

“Sir, do you wonder that I should like Philosophy because of my gender?”

“My surprise in your choice of discipline has nothing to do with your gender, Miss Roth.  You just don’t seem like the philosophical type.”

“I beg to differ, Sir.  Philosophy is an activity that I like to engage in.  I like to question assumptions, beliefs and current presuppositions.”

He looked intrigued.  “I suppose you are familiar with Plato, then?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell me, Miss Roth, do you agree with his claim that ‘until philosophers are kings, or kings have the spirit of philosophy, cities will never have rest from their troubles’?

Before she could answer, he got up from his seat.  “I should be very interested in hearing your answer.  After you have had your dinner this evening, I should like for you to join me in here.”

Did she detect a tender expression on his face?  Before she could be certain, he was gone as quickly and suddenly as he had arrived.

Sighing, she reached for her book but didn’t open it for several minutes.  Her mind preoccupied with their conversation and his question about Plato.  She would have to think about it.  She looked at the clock.  Three hours before dinner.  She longed for the time to advance quickly so that she could enjoy his company once again.

 

Photo:  British (English) School; Portrait of a Gentleman; Royal Albert Memorial Museum; Sources:  Art UK ; CUNY Education; American Art