|“Are you coming or not?” Bernard asked, beckoning back to Cordelia with an outstretched hand and encouraging her with a smile. Cordelia looked down at the muddy patch of ground in front of her white side-lace boots, at the square of wet countryside she must traverse to join hands again with her new husband. She grasped the sides of her billowing purple silk dress, pulled them upward, and lightly hopped over the rain-soaked dip in the ground into Bernard’s waiting arms. “I have you!” he said softly, nuzzling the auburn strands of hair at her ear. “I have you.”
“You do, indeed,” she said, giving him a squeeze and then glancing immediately around to ensure that no one witnessed the subtly scandalous display of public affection. No one did. Promenading in elegant and graceful frills, lace, fringe, and ribbons was typically confined to the city in Victorian England. Few people asked their new brides to do so on the rustic pathways between villages, mounting slippery stiles to cross the stone fences neatly demarcating the verdant and fragrant fields. But then, Cordelia thought with a smile as she gazed up at her husband, few people were like Bernard.
Cordelia lay between crisp sheets. A tall floor fan circulated with a somnolent whir beside her bed. Cordelia stirred, gazing up toward the ceiling. Her daughter rose immediately from the chair across the room. “Mother?” she said softly.
Cordelia didn’t answer. She saw wisps of clouds caressing the ceiling, felt the breeze of an English afternoon on her papery cheek, detected the sweet fragrance from the leaves of English oak and field maple, heard them rustling above her. And mixed in with the murmuring of the leaves, Bernard’s voice: “Are you coming or not?”
“Yes,” Cordelia answered. “Soon, my heart. Very soon.”
(Word count: 299)