The envelope flutters onto the welcome mat. She restrains herself from polite applause as she appraises it: red on the soft side of scarlet, dusted with glitter (bronze, not gold –not gaudy), perfumed with the peppery scent of geraniums and sealed with a solitary X.
Lifting the billet-doux gently, between manicured finger and thumb (a delicate bronze shade, how appropriate), she carries it to the morning table by the window, arranging herself so that her hair catches the light, and her profile is at its most delectable. She uses a letter-opener to preserve the kiss and watches with eyes asparkle as rose petals tumble onto the white cotton tablecloth, arranging themselves (with the lightest of touches) into an approximation of a wonky heart. With finger and thumb, she teases the carnation-coloured note from the envelope, unfolding it and smoothing the creases as she reads.
Shall I compare thee to a winter’s morn?
Thou art more beautiful and glistening bright.
Her mysterious admirer has taken to spinning the classics of late. She approves.
Harsh frost doth smear the late-awakn’d lawn
And greying clouds do oft besmirch the light.
Besmirch. She likes that. She allows herself a satisfied shiver and glances out of the window, tossing a curl away from her eyes before tucking it with careful precision back into place behind her ear.
Sometime it glares, a beam of rising sun,
And oft warms not your rose and milky skin
Of snow, of ice, how dull his day begun
No hope seems near for budding spring within
It’s very clever. She titters with unashamed joy in a suitably ladylike manner, holding her fingers to her top lip. Her eyes glitter and she looks out onto the street, the better to catch the eye of an onlooker, flaunting her good fortune.
But thy verglas of precious stones is made
Each star within your orbit shining bright
Nor shall your wond’rous beauty ever fade
But shine on like a beacon of the night.
For all will bathe within your lust’rous flare
But I, of all, will love without compare.
Upon reading the last line, she clutches the sonnet to her breast, a single tear poised delicately in the corner of her eye. She heaves a sigh and floats to the bureau, carefully folding the poem and tucking it into the drawer which overflows with messages of desire.
Lifted by the words of love, she glides through her otherwise unremarkable day, mouthing the words to herself, over and over and over again.
As night draws inevitably in, she settles herself in her evening chair. With practised precision, she places her writing easel gently upon her lap; gathers paper, pen, petals, powder; unfolds her Shakespeare folio, and settles down to write. Enveloped in the empty space which yawns behind her, solitude waits, patient in the dark.
Abi Hennig is an emerging writer of short fiction who lives in Brighton. When not teaching, running very slowly along the seafront or losing gracefully at complicated board games, she scribbles down stories. A few of these can be found in the following places: F(r)iction: Roman Candle https://frictionlit.org/december-literary-horoscopes/… Reflex Fiction: The Cereal Café https://reflexfiction.com/the-cereal-cafe-flash-fiction-by-abi-hennig/… National Flash Fiction Day (The Write In): Let Sleeping Dogs Lie http://thewrite-in.blogspot.com/2020/06/let-sleeping-dogs-lie-by-abi-hennig.html
My twitter handle is @abihennig and I am sporadically on Facebook as Abi Henipeg
I have a blog here: https://thinkingtwentythingsatonce.wordpress.com/
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