Monday 17 June 2024

Slow Country Dance Mary Chapin Carpenter by Robin Wrigley, whisky sour

It was Saturday evening and Eleanor had just made her weekly walk to Lionel’s grave. It was her habit, weather permitting that she preferred Saturday evenings as opposed to Sunday mainly because it gave her the privacy she craved and in memory of the night she first met Lionel and his brother.

As she passed the village war memorial she stopped and read the names of all the villagers who had given their lives in both world wars. Reading them to herself she could recite them by heart. It came to her in the same way the Lord’s prayer did when she attended Morning Song in St John’s church every Sunday morning. That and the first dance she ever had with Lionel’s older brother Mark whose name she had just read in the list on the memorial.

She could hear Jane’s voice in her head. ‘Oh, come on Ellie you’re such a stick in the mud.’ Smiling to herself she continued her walk. Jane was her best friend – a tear away if there was ever one. They were both educated at the grammar school in town, but Jane just went and got a job in Woolworths. It was just like her and in some ways, Eleanor envied her as she went on to a secretarial school which she never liked.

‘Honestly, Ellie, this is the best chance we’ll ever have to get to meet with the local talent. Your Mum even said she wanted me to get you to go.’

‘You are a big fibber, Jane Marshall. She didn’t did she?’

‘Well not exactly,’ she admitted. Funny after all these years Eleanor mused being able to remember her words after all these years.

That Saturday came so quickly Eleanor couldn’t find an excuse not to go and Jane was in their lounge waiting for her to come down.

‘You look smashing Ellie, you really do.’ Why oh why was she thinking these thoughts when she should be remembering Lionel. But it was the sight of the Bailey brothers that came to her as she continued her walk.

That last dance with Mark was the pinnacle of life at that stage but it was the only time he was to hold her in his arms. The very next day he joined the RAF left for the war never to return.

It must have been a year after Mark’s death that Lionel called round to visit Eleanor one Saturday evening. Not long after that he called and said there was a country dance in the village hall and would she like to go.

‘Thank you, Lionel it is very kind, but no.’ She had offered no excuse, and it was her mother during a conversation who had advised her to go and she did and called him of her change of mind.

It was a slow number after an evening of much joy and bouncing around the room. Seeing Jane twirling around six months pregnant she was able to bury Mark. Now she was able to remember lovingly and fondly his younger brother of that dance and the years of devotion they enjoyed.

Tears of both joy and sorrow slipped down her face as she continued home so pleased that it was Saturday evening, and she was the only one walking down from the cemetery.


About the author 


Robin short stories have appeared in CafeLit both on line and in print on a regular basis. He has also entered various writing competitions but has yet to get past being short listed. 

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