A short story: Scarlet Rachel


On his penultimate evening in Bristol he broke three promises – one that he would walk to London with his cousin from Bath, two that he would visit his father's grave, and the third, a fresher promise made to the girl he loved. When he and Rachel had discussed, months before to light up their love for one another, the best they could do was come to a mutual agreement of cold separation. 'No texting,' she said when they came to this agreement, 'no facebook, no phone calls, no nothing.' His voice had always weakened her, his appearance intensifying her zeal to kiss him, and his eyes luring her into what she knew was bad for her. 'I don't want to know anything about your condition, any changes or whatever, I don't want to know.' As he walked out of the coffee scented room, he witnessed her eyes fall to the ground, having a feel of utter resolution at the decision made. Her look of utter resolution lingered late in his mind this evening as he watched from his window the soft swaying leaves of the orchard tree.

'That was three months ago,' he thought. 'She always watches me whenever I departed from her.' Taking a deep breath, he laid on his bed, staring at his dull ceiling in a longing remembrance of how this very room was the place where they had indulged in their deceit and imprisoned the fame of their togetherness. She would stay until past midnight, ignoring the calls from her boyfriend and shower him with affections that she knew rightly belonged to him. 'We had a season of love, a spring of passion now ended by her.' he reflected. 'What was it all for?' 'What did I become?'

Agitated by the lingering fondness to lay his eyes upon her and talk through the meaning of their undercover relationship, he rose from his loitering to once again walk along her road. The evening, very quietened with only the irregular disturbance of a speeding car, and the rough pavement which led to her house often reminded him that what laid ahead was fraught with perils- her anger, her hatred, her disgust. 'How did she deal with the promise.' he thought. 'Did guilt haunt her? Am I dead in her mind? Will she look hard on my face and when I depart from her will she watch me go?' This thoughts ceased him from realising that he was nearly by her door, only the familial smell of the slothful roses in her garden awakened him to his nearness. He thought: 'Will she be inside. What if her parents answer the door.'

Before knocking, he listened for Rachel's voice and opened his ears as he often did in the past. If classical music was playing, it was the sign that she was inside. He pressed the bell. The nostalgia of it all induced him to breathe deeply. His nervousness under the starry sky made him step back from the door. As he did so, a young girl opened the door and said. 'Do you want Rachel?'

Hit by the irony of the words, the shock of seeing Rachel's eyes in her younger sister's looking directly at him, he could not answer her at once. The young girl did not wait for his reply. 'She is inside. You can come in and see her.'
'I would rather see her outside.' he replied.
Moving away from his sight, she withdrew closer into the house and went to retrieve Rachel.

He waited apprehensively going over his introductory words. 'What shall I say to her.' The hallway lights shone brightly on Rachel's face, revealing her scarlet hair and dalmatian pyjamas. His face was hidden from her. She approached the door. Seeing him, an unbelieving expression adorned her face. He realised the full cruelty of his treachery. She slammed the door but he stopped it before it closed.
'Leave, John. Why are you here?'
'I have come here to see you'. John continued. 'I can't bare it any longer not knowing how you are doing.'
'Keep it down.' she interrupted firmly. 'Ben is inside.'
'You are still with him?'
'More than that, we are engaged, getting married next week.'
'And you wasn't going to tell me?'
'Well one of us was keen on keeping their promise.'

Closing the door behind her, she guided him unwillingly to sit on the bench tucked away in the corner of the garden, now befriended by new sprung daisies.
'I'm going away tomorrow.' his voice indicated that he wanted her to care. 'So I came here to tell you. I wanted to see how you were, if you still thought of me and like me, regretted not contacting you sooner.' She remained silent.

'Won't you even look at me?' he said softly. 'You haven't changed a bit. Still beautiful, still looking after your scarlet hair. I see that you haven't dyed it back to brunette. Did you keep this colour because of me?' Reaching to stroke her hair he leaned closer to her lips and said: 'here you are, my scarlet Rachel, right in front of my eyes, just like a dignified scarlet flower in all its glory.' Pressing to kiss her, she pulled away with all the strength she could muster.
'I think you better leave right now.' And after a pause she informed him that her father has recently been elected the Bishop of London.'  Looking into his eyes for the first time this evening, she said with teary eyes: 'Goodbye, John.'

'Is everything ok out here.' sounded Ben's curious voice. Composing herself, Rachel replied; 'Yes dear. This is my old friend John. I don't think you have ever met. Come and say hello dear.

Wise to her reasons of why she bought Ben here to join in their conversation, John was in no mood to linger around the man who rightfully and soon legally will have his scarlet Rachel. Rising from the old rugged bench, John gave his goodbyes to Rachel and then shakes Ben's hands to signify his departure. Walking away towards the rough pavement which had often led to her house, he looked back at her to see if she watched him go. Noticing that her curious eyes remained on him, he shouted, 'Don't you want to know where I am going away to?'
'I am still keen on keeping our promise.' she replied.

By K.Oni

Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor's Good-bye, Goodbye. (Similar story line and some phrases and expressions use in this piece can be found in her story) Her story is much longer. =)

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