Once I was Loved
by ayen (Elinor Woodhouse)
The cold blustery wind brought a sudden chill to Albert despite the warm suit
he was wearing. The young man cut a dashing figure as he stepped out of the car
that led him to Ardlay Enterprises. His blond mane was tied back in a sleek
ponytail; his long hair a token of resistance to the conventions his position
demanded from him. “George, I think it’s going to be a chilly winter again this
year,” he remarked as William joined him in the walk to the foyer of the most
imposing building in the heart of Chicago.
“Yes, Sir William, not going to be easy for our troops in fighting in the war.” George responded.
The war in Europe has been raging on for 4 years now, the Great War that took many lives, including Albert’s nephew Stear. Eventually, President Wilson ceased being neutral and declared war on Germany. “No it isn’t. I don’t understand why we had to join this mess, I’m chafing from staying here, I want to go abroad again,” he said.
George looked at Albert and sighed. The young man just wasn’t happy in this element. He was no doubt a brilliant businessman, but lacked the killer instinct typical of a shrewd capitalist at this age. “Don’t you want to settle down, Albert?” he asked instead. “Aunt Elroy has been pushing you to get married and have little Ardlay sons.”
Albert smiled and shook his head, his blue eyes somber.
The reception area of the building boasted a modern interior with abstract
paintings. Hothouse orchids adorned the vase on the coffee table and the
receptionist’s desk. The semicircular desk also featured Alexander Bell’s
invention, and Ardlay Enterprises were the first to incorporate all its offices
with units in the late 1800’s.
“Good morning, Sir William, Mr. George!” the pretty brunette receptionist called as the two men approached.
Tina!” Albert responded.
“How are you this Monday morning?” chimed George.
The girl responded cheerfully as Albert entered the inner office alone. There was yet another room inside where he went in and closed the door. Albert winced as he saw the massive mahogany desk with a mountain of paper for him to look at, sign, or approve. Maybe it’s time to bring Archie in to learn about the business. The dandy is marrying Annie next summer, and he can be groomed to be his partner.
George knocked before peering in, “More letters” he said, grinning mischievously, holding a bunch in his hand.
“Alright, George, bring them on!” Albert said.
“The one on top is good news, I hope.” George continued, approaching the younger man’s desk.
“Thank you, George, I’m supposed to tackle these documents today, huh?” he asked pointing to the pile beside him.
George nodded, saluting before he left and closed the door. Albert grabbed the letter that held his interest earlier. His heart always raced whenever he got Candy’s note. When he was in Sao Paulo, traveling with George, her postcards cheered him no end, bringing him a smile in a long grueling hot day. Albert leaned back against his chair and started to read.
Archie Cornwell waved from the car as he left the Brighton’s mansion. In a few months I’m going to be married, he told himself. He felt himself shudder. Is this really what I want? Do I really love Annie as much as…? He shook his head, no; it was no use thinking about that now. She’s still in love with that bastard who hurt her. I need time, he told himself. Time for what, a voice inside him jeered. I have to see her, just to see how she is, I’m driving up to Michigan this weekend to see her, he promised himself. He felt as if a load lifted from his shoulder as he continued to navigate the vehicle down the road.New York
Susanna brushed her hair to sheen, slowly humming to herself. It was a wonderful day. She will be fitted with a second prosthetic leg today, a better and more aesthetic version, her doctor said. She has been wearing a functional one for the past year, and has slowly learned to use it to maneuver around. She still uses her crutches, but can now go without it for longer periods of time. The war seemed to have brought something good for Susanna, in that the science and technology of prosthetics advanced considerably because of the number of soldiers coming home missing their limbs. She brought the brush down and thought how wonderful it would be to be able to stand again, walk again, look into Terry’s eyes deeply. Terry! How she loved him! He was coming later today to take her to the doctor, and she dressed especially nice for him. He has changed since that day he reappeared again after going missing for several weeks. He no longer treated her coldly, and was solicitous in every way. Her mother had gone to Switzerland a week ago to look into a new treatment in prosthetics that not only worked with the muscles, but the nerves too. Terry read about it in some medical journal, and suggested Mrs. Marlowe to go. He provided for the fare, and sometimes Susanna wonders how he can get by. An actor’s salary isn’t really that much, although Terry is a lead actor now. Her doctor’s bills are not small, and he has shouldered all of it. She once suggested that they move to one apartment to save money, but he only looked at her strangely and said he would think about it. She sighed. Time was on her side, it was only a matter of time, and she will win over Terry’s heart.
A soft knock rapped on the door. “Come in”, she exclaimed, turning her wheelchair around. “Good morning Terry” she smiled. The young man was wearing a knee length gray coat over his outfit, and his blue eyes looked like summer sea on a clear day. “Ready?” he asked without preamble. She nodded and smiled as he approached to push her wheelchair out to the hallway. When they reached the stairs he turned to carry her and Susanna reached up to him with a beatific smile. He looked away from her face, feeling guilt coarse over him as he remembered another girl with green eyes that he carried to Sister Grey’s infirmary.Michigan – Pony’s Home near New Buffalo
The plate slipped from Candy’s hands and crashed to the floor. She stared, it was the fifth one she broke. She had been so clumsy this past several days since receiving her letter. How did Susanna know where she was? Does he know she moved back to Pony’s home? Sister Maria and Miss Pony went to New York last September to see Terry in Hamlet, and the two older women gushed at his thespian ability. He has fully recovered from that bout of darkness in Rockton. Oh, how she wanted to go with them, but she wasn’t ready. She would probably have burst out in tears to see him onstage. Susanna was willing to wait for him forever. They must be so happy now. I should be happy for them, too. She felt tears pricking at the corner of her eyes as she started picking up the broken pieces of ceramic from the floor. She has to move on, she must! It has been three years since the separation, but why are the wounds still painful? She already wrote a letter back to Susanna but decided to tear it up and not send it. What for? I’m so happy now, she told herself. I’m so happy now.