The English woman across the street, a short story, Part 8
Our Christmas eve's dinner was a very joyful moment. I had put on some jazz Christmas music in the background, and whenever a song was suitable to do so, Belinda and I danced together. It was just one of those moments in time. Real life seemed to be suspended, and we were living a dream. We had a taste of everything : foie gras, turkey, cheese and yule log. We sampled both wines. It was a feast. A feast for a king and his dream queen. After dinner, we sat in the living room and watched a Christmas movie together, cuddled on the sofa, along with Reglisse the dog. When the movie was over, I reluctantly got up, not wanting for this moment to ever end. I prepared the downstairs bedroom for Belinda, made sure she had everything she could possibly need. Stocked the adjacent bathroom with soft towels. Then, I set my cell phone on the nightstand, so she could call my land line if she needed something, and I could pick up the call from my own bedroom. Finally, almost with regrets, we said goodnight to each other. We hugged tightly, for a time that seemed deliciously forever. I had to break up the embrace as this was getting too difficult for me to handle. I kissed her hair, her cheek, her neck....
I had just gone to bed when the phone rang :
- "Tony ?"
- "I had a wonderful time tonight and you were the perfect host"
- "Thank you. I was glad to have you over, all for myself. I feel like the luckiest bastard on earth"
- "Well, I was glad to be here with you, and I like the way we are getting to know each other better"
- "I just wish it would have been under more pleasant circumstances"
- "Me too, but considering... I'll be honest with you, Tony ,this was the best Christmas eve, and the most romantic too I can remember for years"
- "Same for me, I was just thinking about that!"
- "Well, good night Tony, and merry Christmas"
- "Good night, Belinda dear, merry Christmas to you too"
I slept like a baby that night. Thanks to the nitro pills,my blood was flowing properly through my arteries. No dreams, no waking up in the middle of the night for no reason, no need to pee at 3.00am. A great night altogether, and by 7.00, I was up and ready to conquer the world. Well, maybe a small part of it. Reglisse decided to sleep in, I knew the smell of cooking breakfast would make him come down to the kitchen. Everything in due time...I baked biscuits from scratch, cooked sausages and eggs and set everything on the small kitchen table. I turned on the music again and the soft voice of Ella Fitzgerals singing "Let it snow" filled the air. I went to the living room and opened the drapes. The snow had melted some, but there was still plenty of it and the whole plain in front of the house was still all white. I saw a group of deers a few hundred yards away, probably searching for food. A still very low but bright sun was the promise of a beautiful day. I dressed up quickly, thick beige corduroy pants and navy wool sweater. Then I dialed my cell phone number from the wall phone in the kitchen :
- "Good morning mam, this is the wake up call you requested".
- "I have been awake for some time, good morning Tony". With a joyous but somewhat sleepy voice.
- "Remember, we have to go to the hospital today".
- "How could I forget, my whole body is so stiff, I can barely move yet". Images of her body blurred my mind.
- "Breakfast is ready whenever you are !"
- "I know, Tony, I can smell it from here. Give me ten minutes, all right ?" And she hung up.
I would never have thought that any woman in the world could be ready in such a short amount of time. Well, less than fifteen minutes after I last spoke to her, she showed up in the kitchen and my whole being went "wow". Little black dress, one row of pearls, matching bracelet, very light make-up, hair down, flat ballerina like shoes. Beautiful, lovely, delectable, adorable !
After breakfast, I went outside to get the Land-Rover out of the garage, and left it run idle by the front door, the heater on. And off we went. There was still a thin coat of snow on the road, but with the tire chains on, it was safe to drive. The normal twenty five minutes ride to Tours took us about fourty. The countryside was beautiful, lit by a now bright sun, and the smoke coming out of farmhouses chimneys here and there was the only proof of life. We got to the hospital early and after checking with the reception desk, Belinda and I were sent in opposite directions. I went to the cardio aisle, while she headed for the trauma center. As she walked away from me, I looked at her and noticed how difficult it was for her to walk. She had never complained. Blood was drawn from me. Damn, I hate needles ! A little submarine was sent up through my arteries to assess the damage. I was done in no time ! I needed one, possibly two extra stents put in, but that couldn't been done before the blood test results were in, and that was not going to happen on Christmas day. So in the meantime, medication would keep my arteries dilated. But I felt great, the best I had felt in months actually.
When I reached the trauma center, Belinda was still being examined, so I waited. And waited ! For over an hour. Finally, at 11.30, they rolled her out in a wheelchair. I could tell she had cried. She threw herself into my arms as I was reaching her.
- "Oh Tony, it was awful. So much pain!.
On the way back home, she confided that the doctors had found something wrong with the lower part of her back, a consequence from being kicked violently. One of her lower vertebras had been slightly dislocated. She was quite upset about it and I tried my best to calm her down. But I could tell she was really worried. As we were getting into the driveway of my house, I could see Father's Bernard beat up Renault car was there. As we stepped into the living room throught the front door, a delicious smell of food welcomed us.
- "I took the liberty to warm up the leftovers. I figured you'd be hungry when you'd come back" the priest said. I had completely forgotten I had invited him for lunch. So we set the table again, in the dining room this time, in a joyous and festive mood. Belinda seemed to have regained her composure. We sat at the table :
- "Antoine, would you say grace ?" Father Bernard asked, looking at me
- "Grace !"
- "You are one hopeless soul, Antoine", shaking his head. Then, he preoceeded to say the blessing as we held hands. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with myself. This was the best Christmas, the most joyous, the most emotional, the most romantic, I had had in years. After we finished eating, I gave Father Bernard his Christmas present : a new suit and clergy shirt that had cost me a freaking fortune, but I couldn't let him roam around in the nearly ruined clothes he was wearing. He was long overdue for a new attire. He was surprised and I believe touched as he had tears in his eyes. As for Belinda, I had not planned to have her over for Christmas, but I wanted to mark the occasion in a way we'd both remember. So, I went to my office, opened the tiny safe hidden under the floor, and selected a small bracelet, white gold with diamonds and rubies, that belonged to my mother, a hundred years old piece of jewelry. I put it on her forearm, as she looked at me puzzled. She had thin wrists, as did my mother so it fit perfectly.
- "Merry Christmas, Belinda" She was looking at me in complete disbelief.
- "Tony, I can't possibly...I put my finger on her lips to prevent her from speaking.
- "You can, and you will, so hush..."
And the most unexpected thing happened, I kissed her. She wrapped her right arm around my neck, and kissed me back. A long, sensual, erotic, full of promises kiss. Father Bernard looked away, petting Reglisse's head...
A few weeks later, I went back to the hospital and gained two more stents. I have never felt so good since that happened. But Belinda's condition deteriorated ! She had to be operated on her lower back, and as a result, she is now in a wheelchair. She will have to learn to walk again, and this is going to take time. She is now living with me permanently. Little by little, we have moved in most of the belongings she needed. I had pulled her Mini out of the gulley, and that turned out to be a job as expected. But using my brain combined with the winch of the Land-Rover was an adventure. I welcomed the challenge. The car was repaired and then she sold it, as she can no longer drive. In the spring, we grew the largest patch of vegetables ever, and the season was good, so we went to the farmer's market twice a week. Between beautiful Belinda and friendly Reglisse, people just flocked to our booth, and we always sold everything we had. I have been approached by a national weekly magazine and they want me to write a short story for them every other week. Ambitious, but it can be done. They gave me a quite comfortable advance upon my remittance of the first two stories. Since I didn't really need that money, I purchased another car with it, a car that Father Bernard is now driving every day. Officially, it's a loan, but I will never take it back.
Belinda and I have settled in our new life. We became lovers sometimes around the new year. Yes, there is no misprint, we do make love together on a regular basis. The most gratifying ever for both of us apparently ! Her divorce has now been finalized, so we're not even living in sin. I've made the math : she's twenty one years younger than me. And I'd like to correct a statement I made earlier : I was certainly deeply in lust with Belinda, but my lust for her was the tree hiding the forest. I had fallen in love with her the very minute I saw her, and it only took slighly over seven years to admit it to myself. Don't ask me about the future, because I have no idea. Will she stay ? Will she leave ? I cannot say, but whatever happens, I will cherish the memory of our time together. And by the way, by the end of summer, we have plans to go on a cruise to the Greek islands together. She is no longer the English woman across the street, she is now the English woman who crossed the street and conquered my poor old beat up heart. And you know what? I like it better that way....
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
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