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The First Farewell

The First Farewell

March 11, 2005 8:07 amComments are Disabled

That summer we had all gone to the races and Jonathan lost three starts.  He was disappointed.  We all were.  His face got red and he swore.  He ripped his ticket and I touched his arm.  The horses went around again and Jonathan watched.  Then he sat down.  “Let us go back to Havershire,” he said.  I said yes.  He put his hand on my back.  It was smooth and warm and gentle.  He kissed me and I got lost like I always did with Jonathan.

I remember one summer day at the races in particular.  A vendor fainted in the heat.  When the race was over people noticed the ale and chips spread all over the ground and there was a mad rush.  I think the vendor was trampled.  But Jonathan told me not to look and I didn’t and then he lost two more starts.  When we left the vendor had been carried off and there was blood and ale and crumbs all mixed together.  Jonathan bought me a cool drink but I told him I didn’t want it.

We left and got a carriage.  The driver was friendly.  Jonathan gave him some money.  “Drive gently,” he said.


“No.  We must be careful.”

“All right.”

“Slowly?” the driver said.


“I love you.”

“I know” Jonathan said.  He helped me into the carriage.  He got in himself.  When we were in the driver closed the door and we felt everything shake as the driver got into his seat above us and then we felt a rumble and soon the English countryside was going past us and the noise from the track was gone.

“Did you like the races?”

“You lost.”

“Only a couple pounds.”

“I know dear.  But you were angry.”

“I could never get angry with you.”

“I love you.”  Jonathan held my hand.  The carriage jerked and Jonathan held my hand tighter.  We heard the driver say something but we could not hear.  Jonathan put his hand on me.

“Can you feel anything?”


“I could feel something.  It’s gone now I think.”


“It’s ours, Jonathan.”

“I know.”

The green pastures turned to yellow fields and then the light went away a little so you could barely see outside.  Then the carriage slowed and Jonathan looked worried.

“What’s the matter, dear?”

“It’s getting too dark to drive I think.”

“Shall we find an inn?”

“Yes.”  Jonathan knocked at the roof of our carriage.  The coach stopped.  I heard a horse grunt.

“We must find an inn.  It is getting dark.”

“I think we passed one not too long ago.”

“Go back then.”

“All right.”  The carriage tuned around.  I was on the darker side now.  The light was not as bright through the window.  I saw many shadows.  The fields and the bushes and the trees were indistinguishable.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right.”

“I didn’t realize how late we had stayed.”

“It’s all right.”

“I will try to find us a nice room to stay.”

“All right.”

“I deeply care for you, Catherine.”

“I know.  I love you.”

When we reached the inn Jonathan gave the driver money and paid for him to spend the night.  He had driven gently and slowly for Jonathan and that is why we had to spend the night at the inn.  The inn was noisy and smokey.  Jonathan took me to our room and told me to lay down.  I did.  He went.  When he came back he had wine and some crackers.  I laughed.

“Why are you laughing?”

“I can’t drink that.”


“Jonathan.”  I laughed some more.  Then Jonathan laughed.  Soon we were both laughing very hard.  A deep, fulfilling laugh.  The wine couldn’t have made us feel better.  “Quick” I said.  I took Jonathan’s hand and put it on me.

“Did you feel?”


“Darling, I love you.  I really love you.  Do you think it will be easy or hard for me?”

“It will be easy.  God likes you.”

“Yes, he must.  I have you.”

“Yes you do.”

Jonathan laid me down.  He dimmed the lights and stroked my hair.  I heard him breathing but my eyes were closed.  Then I could smell wine.  I heard footsteps.  Then everything was quiet.  Darkness came over me.  I was in the moon.  Then the moon went away and I felt wetness.  Rain.  It came down on me and I could smell it.  It rained and I looked around and saw some field like we had seen from the carriage.  But it was dark and there were lots of shadows.  I walked but my steps were heavy.  “Slowly” I heard someone say.  I heard voices in the distance.  I looked forward and there were mountains.  With snow on them and long white slopes.  Then there were houses that looked like yellow and brown ants below the mountain.  Little curls of smoke came up and became the mist.  It was not raining over by the mountains.  But it was raining here.  I looked some more and I saw more shadows but they shifted around like some powerful presence was controlling them.  Then I saw one shadow that did not move or change shape.  It was on the ground and I walked towards it.  The rain felt wet but not cold.  As I walked to the shadow my steps grew heavier so soon I could not walk anymore and I collapsed in front of the shadow in the rain and suddenly there was some light and I could see the shadow’s face and it was Jonathan and he was dead.

I gasped and sat upright.  Everything was dark.  I heard rain on the roof of the inn.  It was light rain and must have started while I was sleeping.  I lit a lamp.  Jonathan was not in bed with me.  His smell was no where I could tell.  I rose and found my bed jacket.  It was quiet all around me.  I followed my lamp to the door and opened it and went out.  I went downstairs and no one was there.  I peered into the office of the innkeeper but he was asleep.  Some oil from the lamp dripped out and fell on my bare foot.  I gave a short shout.  The innkeeper did not wake up.  The rain sounded softer downstairs since I was farther away from the roof.  Then I heard some muffled noise.  I did not know the sound so I walked towards it, following the lamp.  It was outside.  I heard it louder now but there was still rain between me and the noise.  I went outside to the veranda where there was rain dripping down from the roof but I was still dry.  I saw the carriage we had come here in, Jonathan and I.  I heard the noise again.  It was rhythmic, like the rain or the beat of a drum.  I stepped off the veranda in my bare feet.  The cold mud felt good on my scalded foot.  I walked to the carriage.  The noise got louder.  It got louder than the rain.  The carriage was by the road and there were no horses attached to it but it seemed possessed.  I looked through the window.  I saw a shadow moving on top of another shadow.  I heard a woman’s voice.  Loudly.  I heard a man’s grunt.  I saw the shadows convulse and suddenly the light was in the carriage and the shadows jerked and I saw a face and it was clear and the light moved towards it and hit the face and the oil splattered and the flames lit and I heard a scream and the man shrieked and clutched his face and the carriage tilted and I fell backwards into the mud.  And suddenly the night was bright and yellow and orange and red and I felt heat in my groin and I did not care, but I rolled over into the mud all the same and I crawled away from the fire on my stomach and I went back to the veranda and watched.  The flames leaped up around the black carriage and swallowed the wheels and the doors and the man and the woman inside.  Then the rain swallowed the fire and the carriage was gone.

I took off my muddy bed jacket and gown and went upstairs and felt around in the dark for new clothes.  I put them on and then looked for Jonathan’s jacket which he had taken off when he came up to put me to bed.  It was there and I felt around in a pocket and found some money and his pocketwatch and took it all.  Then I took the jacket.  I went back downstairs and looked back into the innkeeper’s office.  I heard loud breathing from his chair and I knew he was still asleep.  Then I went back into the rain.  The water sounded different now through Jonathan’s jacket.  I held it over my head and walked down the road away from the inn and towards Havershire.

In the morning the rain had gone and my feet were tired.  I found a flat in Havershire that I paid for with Jonathan’s money.  Then I went to sleep.  The next day I went to the doctor.  I had to give him Jonathan’s watch.  He took out the baby.  He said it was dead already.  I believed him.  He asked me if I had another job.  I told him my brother did, but he was at the front.  The doctor said do you want to be closer to him and I said what do you mean.  Then he suggested that I sign up to be a nurse on the front and help people like my brother.  I said thank you and left.

The days grew shorter and in the fall the leaves changed early.  I remembered the first time Jonathan kissed me and a leaf had fallen on us at that moment.  Jonathan said it was a sign from God.  I knew it was.  These leaves in Havershire change to be bright red and orange and yellow, like fire.  And when they fall they are crispy and do not drift on the air.  The tree outside my flat leaned away from the street and I could reach out and take leaves from it.  I took three leaves, one yellow, one orange, one red.  I looked out the window at the street and saw a young couple passing by one day.  And I waited for them to go right under my window and I pushed the leaves over the edge and watched them fall straight down.  Then one of them hit the man in the head and he looked up but I had already pulled myself back into my flat.

That afternoon I left the month’s rent on the table and went to the army recruiting station and signed up to be a nurse.  I got on a ship and watched the ocean swallow up England.  I had left Jonathan’s jacket at the army office.


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