This is the final installment of the first chapter of “A SIN FOR A SON”. It is available in hard copy and Kindle on Amazon. I hope that I have not bored you with this printing of the first chapter. I am now back in the US and hope to be blogging again in force. See you, and thank you for your interest!
She closed the door, letting her hand linger on the cold metal handle as she tried to coax it to latch without a sound, allowing her to slip, unnoticed, upstairs. But it wasn’t quiet and gave its usual clank when the latch engaged. As she turned, she noticed a golden tulip petal which had fallen to the floor. She bent down and picked it up. It was soft and smooth, so gentle, that as she rose she held it to her cheek to fully enjoy its sweet softness against her skin. While she was lingering nostalgically, her father, who had been watching, came into the hall from his library. In his haste to catch her, his foot caught on a Persian rug at the transition from carpet to stone to carpet. He wobbled and regained his balance. He held a slender wartime British daily newspaper in his right hand and tapped it on his left. His kindly face looked anxious and expectant while his presence seemed to fill the large hall. Walter’s hasty departure could mean only one thing, and yet her pensive pose with the tulip petal at her cheek seemed to convey something else.
“Well, Luisa, that was fast. So, do you have some good news for us?” He spoke kindly in his expectant response to her stance.
She sized up his tweeds and worn sweater and looked into his face. “No, Father, no ‘good news’, as you put it. I’m sorry. I can’t marry Walter. I’ve got to wait for the right man.”
The old frustration with his pretty daughter came back to Thomas; he even wondered why she should have been so well endowed when she didn’t seem to want to share herself with anyone. He raised his voice, “Wait, how could you say that, Luisa? You have waited long enough.” He looked at the newspaper in his hand. The date, April 15, 1942, reminded him that she was thirty-two today and still unmarried.
“Thirty-two is too old, much too old, for a young woman to be unmarried. And love, Luisa, at your age, my girl, love is a moot point. You listen to me; I know about men and I know that this one is a good man.” He beat the paper into his broad open hand, remembering the top story which featured the new plane touted to be a harbinger of victory. “He is a war hero who will be flying one of those new Lancaster heavy bombers. After the war he will be a good provider. He is constant and he adores you. What more could you ask?”
“Well, I was hoping for love on my part.” Luisa fidgeted slightly and dropped the petal on the table next to the vase of flowers. She dusted her fingertips over it almost as though this action symbolized her rejection of Walter.
He noticed that she spoke more meekly than usual and responded by stopping banging the paper on his hand. He tried to make his voice persuasive.
“You could learn to love him.”
“I’ve tried to, Father, but it is not something you just turn on.” Her voice was resolute as she went on. “I like him, I like him a lot. I like him as a friend, and that is where it ends.”
“I repeat, he is a good man. Married to him, you would learn to love him. If you tried you could learn. If you don’t get some sense you are going to end as a barren, bitter, bickering old biddy like your great aunt Bertha.” By now Thomas was pounding his newspaper into his cupped hand in time with his words. His face reddened.
Luisa knew his patter so well that she hardly listened to his tirade. Her right hand trailed on the hall table, touching the vase of yellow tulips. They were Walter’s tulips, their spring beauty harbingering a new year, while their stark color reminded her of his blond hair. For a moment, she might have swept them onto the floor; instead, she faced her father.
“I know, Father. Yes, I know that he is a good man and he will make a good husband and father, but how many times do I have to say it? He is not the right man for me. It wouldn’t be fair to him if I married him.”
“Not ‘fair to him’? Oh, really, Luisa, did you ask him? I bet he’d risk it. Love would follow, you know.” Thomas was pleased with himself. He thought that he might have found a chink in her armor. He watched her clench her hands as she dropped them to her side. She turned her head slightly to adjust her view of him.
“Yes, Father, love might follow, but, no, no, no. I am not about to commit myself based on that nebulous assumption.” As she spoke, her emotion made her raise her voice. In a crescendo she shouted her response. The word “assumption, -tion, -tion” echoed off the high ceiling of the hall.
Luisa brushed past him and rushed dramatically away. She vaulted the stairs two at a time and slammed her bedroom door behind her to make sure that no one attempted to follow. Thomas watched her go. He marveled at her speed and agility which seemed spirited and youthful and quite inappropriate for a thirty-two-year-old spinster. As the sounds of her departure dissipated he grunted, turned, and gave the Persian rug a hefty kick. Then he walked back into his library to finish reading his newspaper.
© Copyright, Jane Stansfeld, February 2014
‘A SIN FOR A SON’ is available on Amazon: