Not your typical steamy romantic story… but hopefully an interesting one.

West Wycombe Park. North Front. Buckinghamshire.

His hair was dark brown, the short waves framing his face. His forehead was pressed against the windowpane, his hands balled up into a fist above it. I wanted to get from the bed, cross the room, comfort him. I couldn't. I couldn't move. It hurt to breathe, to talk… but I did so anyway.

"Nicko?" My voice was a rasping whisper, shocking, almost taunting me. A parody of my former self. He turned from the window, quickly wiping his eyes on his turned back cuff. They were stained and no longer stiff with starch. Tired. Like him. Dark circles shadowed his eyes, his face haggard. Still beautiful, but ruffled, wrecked, beaten.

"It's my fault." His voice too was hoarse, breaking as he spoke. He bit his lip, holding himself back.

"No." My voice was weak, not strong, forceful, defiant like I wanted – like I needed it to be. He came closer, kneeling beside the bed, taking my hand in his.

"If I had the money, not just the title… I could get you the medical help you needed… I would disown the estate, sell it all, recind my nobility, if it would make you better." I looked down at my hand, small and pale in his. Perhaps if he had the money… but I did not care. I cared only for him.

"We just had medical elp. The doctor just came, but ever since he did you've been standing there staring after him…" I gathered all my energy and gestured towards the window, "…refusing to tell me what he told you."

"Remember when we were going to be married… when we were planning it… it was to be in two weeks time. I was just looking out in the garden at where we were going to have the party."

"Where we will have the party, when I'm-"

"Better. yes I know. I heard it over and over!" Nicko's eyes were filled with tears of rage, his jaw clenched. "Stop trying to make me feel better! Keep that energy for yourself. You'll need it, defying death-" he stopped, then got up quickly and sat at the edge of my bed.

"Defying death?" I swallowed. I had known all along it wasn't just another cold, a passing malady. He gently, timidly, wrapped his arms around me, and buried his face in my hair.

"I'm sory, I didn't mean to…" His voice trembled. "He says… he says you have consumption. Your symptoms: pale skin, a hacking cough.. the weakness and aching in your bones. He says that it's serious. That…" Again, he stopped. I felt a warm tear fall onto my scalp. "That… you have days… even hours, maybe, to live." He took a breath, pulling himself together, then began again, speaking too quickly, too loudly. "Of course, he's just one doctor- we should get a second opinion. I can sell the horses, leave off a few staff-"

"No. There's only the maid, the cook and the butle left, and they work for hardly anything anyway. There are only two horses left… and you'll need them, without the carraiges. They're also gone, to pay for the last doctor." My practical, economical side spoke out, sheltering the real me underneath.

Nicko tightened his embrace and lifted his legs onto the day bed..

"Youch!" He exclaimed, pulling a hardcovered book from under him.

"What are you reading now?" He smiled, albeit sadly, opening the red cover.

"'Romeo and Juliet'. A tad depressing, don't you think. I much prefer 'As You Like It'- everything works out in the end… and it's funny." I smiled.

"Yes, I do like that too. But, not everything allways works out, does it? And there are some beautiful quotes." He chuckled quietly, happy for a moment. For longer than a moment. The room was pale, beautiful. Ghostly in the cool light. I curled into Nicko's side, reacing towards his face. He frowned, worried at my fraility, but then ginned and ducked his face to mine. Our lips met, his warmth seeping into me. I broke away, grinning also.

"A good one is, 'Thus with a kiss I die.'" The happiness dissapeared from his face, replace by horror. I grinned and shook my head… it seemed lighter, less painful.

"I love you," I smiled. He smiled too again.

"I love you too." He kissed me for the second time that morning. The energy, happiness, light, warmth, joy, beauty and passion radiating from him filled me. I couldn't quite touch his lips, they felt like they were pulling aways from me. His arms felt looser, my body lighter. I sat up, stood up, for the firt time in weeks.

"Nicko! Look!" I spun around to see his reaction. Tears fell from his eyes as he gazed in wonder at my frail, waif like body cradled in his strong arms. I understood. Moving towards him, I kissed his forehead.

"I love you," I sighed, and left.

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7 thoughts on “Leaving

  1. A beautiful short story. You always amaze me with your adult-like view of things and your writing. The style is wonderful. What was the name of the girl?
    I’m such a romantic person, I was hoping all along that a miracle will happen…but I do like sad stories, too.

    • Aww, thanks! I was sort of hoping for a miracle too.
      I’m not sure about the girl. I think she is whoever the reader feels she is. Maybe she is a Irish, poor, with no title, nothing to her name, a daughter of a maid who worked in Nicko’s home, and the girl was a childhood friend, a first love of his who Nicko broke all the boundaries to propose to, and as a result was cut off finanically and socially from his benefactors, and this is why he is so poor.
      Perhaps she is a rich lady who married this poor Lord who’s father had squandered all the family fortune, and disgraced the name and thus her family cut her off for marrying someone of such low ranking.
      Or maybe both families were equal ranks, and the girl was the perfect match for Nicko, but tougher times forced them into even greater poverty. I’m not sure I’ll ever know.
      Because of this, I’m not sure I’ll ever know her name. If she was Irish, it’d have to be an Irish name- but they all sound so cheesy when used in context like this. If she was English, it’d have to be something dating from the right times.. perhaps a Victoria, or an Elizabeth, or something… but none feel right.

      I have one last possible backstory, that to me feels like it’s right… not completely, but a teensy bit moreso than the others. I think she just turned up one day, a child, lost and alone… a bit Wuthering Heights-ish, and was called after where they found her… I was thinking maybe Willow, because it’s soft and weak yet beautiful, like her in this short story. I don’t know… you decide.

  2. I thought that both of their parents are dead and they are poor, the castle is the only one that was left to them.
    The boy’s name was a bit of a surprise for me, Nicko sounds very Italian for me but I can only imagine them in a house like that on the picture. Or maybe because there is a picture I can’t imagine anything else 🙂
    I think she is Lily. It also evokes a frail, pale girl in me.

  3. Yeah, an Italian duchess who married an Englishman (or Irishman) but they had died young, and Nicko was brought up by “Lily’s” housekeeper because she was some distant relative of Nicko’s father. And they fell in love after they had spent their childhood together. What do you think?

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