12 December 2019

Frozen by Annie Whitehead - A Story Inspired By A Song


Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...

Hoarfrost, Ripe, Nature, Landscape

He came to me when the haze shone white upon the water, dazzling with bright summer radiance. Damsel flies hovered iridescent, gliding in their dance then darting away when a perch broke the surface. At first I did not see him, after staring so long at the brightness, and had to blink to lose the blinding after-image.
   All but falling off his horse, he slumped forward over the pommel and one arm dangled, a trail of blood snaking down his forearm and pooling on the parched grass. I stood up and stepped forward, hoping that he was still conscious, for a dead weight would be too much for me to drag from the saddle. He was, thankfully, awake enough to ease his feet from the stirrups and, bending my knees to support my back, I was able with his help to slide him to the ground.
   As he lay on his back, eyes closed and chest heaving, I took a brief survey. There were no tell-tale dark patches on his torso, nothing to suggest his vitals were damaged. With the lightest touch I could muster, I rolled up his sleeve to try to locate the source of the bleeding and found a wound, serious but not deadly, halfway between the elbow and shoulder. His lack of strength was due merely to exhaustion, not hurt. I helped him inside the house, cleaned the injury as best I could with some of father’s wine - a better use for it than drinking the vinegary stuff -  and packed the wound with moss. That night, he told me his story.
     The next night, I told him mine.

And so I learned that he had fought with his younger brother because he had inherited all of their father’s lands, while I explained that I lived alone on my father’s estate because he always suspected I was not his child – blonde and small in a family of brown-haired giants – but could not prove it. My skills with herbs and simples made me valuable to him, but my stepsister now ruled in my father’s hall.
   Ours were tales as old as time. He was not the first man to be hated by his brother, and I was not the first woman to be rejected by her family. Yet that didn’t mean it couldn’t hurt. We all bleed, but not always on the outside. He had wounds which took far longer to heal, and so did I.
And so we clung to each other.

Night, Astronomy, Sky, Couple, In Love

Not at first. At first it was tentative. Bathing his wound one morning, I let my fingertips work a trail down his forearm. His other hand stopped mine, but then his hand curled round my palm and he lifted my fingers to his lips, holding them there for a brief moment.
   “Thank you,” he said. And I remember thinking then that it was no more than gratitude. I should not have listened to myself, yet the gnawing thought burrowed into my brain and lodged there.
   Even so, I was lost. Lost in the way his cheeky smile made his top lip disappear, lost in the warm smell of his soft brown hair, in the laugh that was light, boyish, a giggle which enchanted and excited me.
   He helped me prepare herbs, and often his hand would cover mine as we chopped and sliced. I grew courageous and, laying down my knife turned into him, put my arms around his neck and hugged him, as if I could draw strength, nay, immortality, from the warmth of his body. They call it ‘falling’ in love. No, I plummeted.
   But always, the little thought persisted.

Love, Emotion, A Couple Of, Young Couple

We sat by the water’s edge, under the shade of the willow. Drawn together by grief and illness, we spoke few words, our breathing synchronising. I laid my head against his chest and savoured the tiny undulation of his beating heart, strong, rhythmic, calm.
   I told him how this hurrying water sometimes loses its own heartbeat in the winter, its very essence caught in ice. “In really cold years, we used to tie planks to our shoes and skid over it.”
   “No!”
   “Yes, really. We came home covered in bruises, and once the ice cracked and my leg got stuck. See, I have the scars.” I hitched up my skirts. His presence had somehow made me bold, and I showed him the ugly criss-cross of white tissue which now laces my shin, knee and thigh.
   “You got that from skating on the ice?”
   “I did.”
   He did not believe me.
   He whispered, “My love” and I so wanted to believe him.
  But my father’s words came into my head, louder, triumphing over the tenderness, a harsh call which soured the warm breath that blew gently from my love’s mouth. “You are worthless. I will never find a husband for you.”
   And yet, against all laws and expectations, this similarly broken man shared my house with me all summer. His arm healed. We swam naked in the water. Selfish, my silent tormentor scolded me. Wanton, it scoffed. But I had been cast out, so what did it matter? Yet it did matter, to him. Or rather, his predicament mattered to me. I was keeping him from his family, his inheritance, his life.

Refreshing, Hill, Field, Summer, Earth

There is a tiny moment of one day that I will remember all my life. We were lying on the grass, panting from the exertion of racing each other to the far bank and back, when he propped himself up on one elbow and laid a trail of kisses along my scars. The breeze was cool on my wet skin yet we both knew I was not shivering from the cold.
   The sun burned our bodies, and the fresh summer air had healed not only his wound but his spirit. Now, surely, he would leave, now he’d seen what I truly was? Could I ever trust, and be happy? Or would I fear always that one day he would leave, disgusted? By-blow, marked, hideousCould another human truly love me, and was I even worthy? More, could I be the person who ensured that the rift with his family never mended?

Ukrainian Hata, Rural Hut, Ukraine, Lviv
One day my stepsister came down to the cottage. She did not even try to hide her disgust, her brow furrowing and her mouth down-turned. Ugly, I knew she was thinking. “Father has found you a husband, can you believe it?” The shake of her pretty head told me that she did not.
   And I knew then what I had to do.
   The light began to turn from white to yellow and the trees wrapped themselves in their red and golden cloaks. Soon they would disrobe completely and the ground would render itself too cold for barefoot dances. “Go back to your family,” I told him.
   He looked at me, head to one side like a faithful hound that does not understand why it is being sent from the hearth.
   My prospective husband turned out to be a trader from the southern continent. He had won my father over with soft exotic fruits and spices and the glint of cold hard coin. He cared not whether I was my mother’s bastard lovechild, and he seemed to like my colouring. I would be a novelty among his people, a prize to be paraded. I would be miserable forever, I knew, but my love would be happy, at home, with his land, and a worthy wife. And I, I would never have the worry of being rejected. 

Alhambra, Andalusia, Landscape, Castle

Now I live in a palace so grand that my stepsister would swoon in envy to see it. The walls are bleached by the blistering sun and I must stay in the shade or wilt like a sun-scorched rose. It was not until the day our ship departed that a message came. He had tried to do the right thing, had gone back to his family, to his lands. But love had been the louder call, and he had told his brother he could have it all. His letter said he would be back at my waterside cottage before Michaelmas. But I was bound now, and had no choice but to set sail, loaded onto the ship with all the other purchases from my father’s stores.
   The seasons do not change here. The sweet pungency of the orange blossom already fills the space between ground and rooftop, so cloying that at times I fear I will not find a clear space of air to breathe. At home they will soon be pulling the yule log across from the woods, and nailing evergreens to the mantel and around the doorframes. The water outside my cottage might even be frozen.
   Here, there is no waterway for miles. Here, it does not snow. I lift my hand to shield my eyes as I scan the horizon. The jangle of my golden bangles and the re-tre-tre-tre-tre-cheeche-tre-tre-tre of the Barbary Partridges puncture the silence. I can hear no lapping of water tickling the edges of the land as it flows by. There will be no frost, no crispness to the morning air that robs breath, returning it in visible clouds. And my love, the love I pushed away, will warm himself by the fire instead of in my arms.
   I was a fool. If only I could stand by that frozen river now, I would throw away all this clanging gold, tie planks to my shoes and make my way to his door.


Snow, Winter, Landscape, Branches, Grass

© Annie Whitehead

Did you guess the song title?

Joni Mitchell River
(Official You Tube Video)

Annie's Website
Annie is an author and historian, a member of the Royal Historical Society and of the Historical Writers’ Association. Her first novel, To Be A Queen, chronicles the life of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, who ruled a country in all but name, and her second, Alvar the Kingmaker, tells the story of Earl Alvar, who served King Edgar and his son Æthelred the Unready who were both embroiled in murderous scandals. Her third novel, Cometh the Hour, charts the life of King Penda. She was a contributor to the anthology 1066 Turned Upside Down. She is the recipient of various awards for her novels and has also won awards for her nonfiction essays. She won the inaugural HWA Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition. Her first full-length nonfiction book, Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom was published by Amberley Books in Sep 2018 and a new book, about Anglo-Saxon women, will be published by Pen & Sword Books in 2020.

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds


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The Full List of Authors


December
2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica Lainé  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th HAPPY CHRISTMAS
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud
31st  HAPPY NEW YEAR


 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required

11 December 2019

Hold me, love me, leave me? by Anna Belfrage - A Story Inspired By A Song


Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...
Female Alcoholism, Woman, Girl

”I thought I’d find you here.”
Mandy closed her eyes. That voice. His voice. The one voice she should not be yearning for on the eve of her wedding, and still, just the sound of it had her heart skipping a beat or two.
   Two years since she’d given him an ultimatum. Two years since she’d stood in the early dawn and watched him leave, her heart in splinters at her feet, his eyes filled with so much pain it made her gut twist. But she’d been right: she needed more. Stuff that Johnny couldn’t give her, but that Simon would deliver on. A home, a steady income, stability—the list was long. And yet….
   “Hi Johnny,” she said, without turning around. Before her, the setting sun painted the still lake in every shade of orange imaginable. She heard him jump down to land on the flat rock beside her. The rustle of his jeans, and he was sitting beside her, close enough that she could feel the warmth emanating from his body.
   “I’ve missed you, Mandy-girl,” he said, handing her a bottle of beer. Cold, condensation making the glass slippery.

Alcohol, Alcoholism, Ale, Background

Not like I’ve missed you, she thought. It would be impossible for him to do so, and she’d seen the pictures of the up-and-coming singer and his various lady companions. He smiled at other girls, he had an arm round other women’s shoulders, and she hated him for forgetting her so quickly—and herself for having pushed him away.
   “You seem to have been coping just fine,” she therefore said, still not daring to look at him. She chugged some beer, keeping her gaze on the water, on the clouds that drifted over the sky.
   “As have you,” he replied. “It took what? Six months and then you were dating the man of your dreams.”
   Bitterness dripped from every word. She peeked at him, and he was staring straight ahead, the mouth set in a far grimmer line than she’d ever recalled seeing before.
   “I said goodbye to the man of my dreams two years ago,” she said. He turned to meet her gaze. “Life has to be built on something more solid than dreams,” she continued. “Dreams are like gossamer, so frail, so easily shredded.” Her hand crept up to stroke his cheek. Her voice broke. “But the dream still remains a dream, a constant “what if” whispering through your head.”
   “Yeah.” He covered her hand with his own and just like that their fingers braided, him tugging slightly until their joined hands rested on his thigh.
   “Mum says I’m making a mistake,” she said. “She keeps on telling me I should never deny my heart.”
   “Well, Ellie was always a full-blooded romantic,” he replied. He swigged some beer. “But sometimes love isn’t enough.”
   “No.”
Sunset, Tree, Lake, Reflection, Sunrise

They sat in silence for a while. It felt so right, to sit here on their flat rock, her hand in his, her body leaning ever so slightly against his. He smelled the same, the shirt he was wearing was one she’d given him years ago, the faded denim worn smooth and soft.
   “What’s he like?” he asked.
   She shrugged. He’s not you. “He’s nice. He makes me feel cared for, loved. He is proud of me, he wants babies and a mortgage—”
   “No one wants a mortgage,” he protested, and she laughed.
  “No, that’s true. But he wants for us to buy a house and make a home—together.”
   He nodded. “So he’s just what you want.”
  What she wanted was sitting right beside her. But what she needed…. “Yes.”
   He disengaged his hand, and for an instant she feared he would go. She clung, he smiled at her. “Swim?”
   She grinned. “Swim.”
  He had taught her to swim here. Two children growing up in the middle of nowhere and what did it matter that he was four years her senior when there was no one else to play with? And Johnny had spent a lot of time in their home, because his father was mostly on the road and his mother drank too much and so Mum stepped in, ensuring Johnny was fed and clean, that he had a safe place to sleep. Like having an older brother, she’d told Mandy, and it had been. For a while. Until the summer she turned fourteen.
   He undressed quickly. She followed suit and moments later they were in the water. They raced, he won—he always won. They returned to their rock and it was still warm, still bathed in sun. No words, just his gaze boring into hers.
   “Hold me,” she whispered. “Please, Johnny, hold me.” One last time, she thought.
   He enveloped her in his arms, and it felt so right. This was where she belonged, in these arms, with his chest hair tickling her nose, his hands travelling slowly—reverently—up and down her back, her bottom. She hid her face against him, tears choking her throat.
   “No.” He lifted her face. “No crying, Mandy-girl. Not tonight. Tonight, we make memories, you and I. Memories to carry us through whatever comes after.”
   “Memories,” she repeated, and then his mouth came down on hers and she cried anyway. So did he, and it was through tears that they kissed, that they touched and stroked. He lay her down on the warm surface. She held out her arms to him. Tonight, he was his, she was hers. Tonight was theirs. Naked need, naked bodies, and he entered her and it felt as right as it always did, as it never did with Simon. Oh God, what was she doing?

Sunset, Lovers, Dusk, Sun, Dawn, Evening

They lay close together afterwards. He pulled their discarded clothes over them and tucked her closer to him, sticking his nose in her hair to inhale her scent. He wished he had the words to tell her what she meant to him, how the news that she was getting married had flayed him. Well, maybe he had the words, but he wasn’t sure he had the courage—or the right—to tell her. She wanted stability, he was a restless sort, happy to tour the land and give concerts, desperate for weeks of isolation when he would write new songs. Not a life for his Mandy, he knew that. But still… He tightened his hold on her.
   “I love you,” he said.
   “I know. And I love you.” She nuzzled his chest.
   But sometimes love is not enough, he reminded himself bitterly.
   She sat up. “Maybe…” He could see the flare of hope in her eyes.
  “No. You made the right choice.” It killed him to say that. He cleared his throat. “He can give you what I can’t. I hope you will be happy with him. You deserve to be.”
   He, on the other hand, would never be happy. Not without her. But hey, everyone knew an artist thrived on suffering and heartbreak. 
Lovers, Couple, Love, Sunset, Sun, Beach

“Don’t go,” she whispered. “Please, Johnny. Stay with me. Don’t leave me again, don’t…” She began weeping in earnest. He held her close, rocking her from side to side until she quieted. At long last, she straightened out of his embrace, wiping at her eyes. “It hurts,” she said. “It hurt like hell two years ago, it has hurt since then, it hurts even more now.”
   “I know.” And tomorrow, she’d speak vows tying her forever to another. God, what a fool he was to come here and relive yet again the agony of leaving her behind. But they had tonight. For some hours more she was his, and he drew her close and kissed her until there were no words left in his head.

Wedding Dresses, Fashion, Bride, Veil

He had intended to leave at dawn, but for some strange reason he hadn’t. You’re as bloody masochist, he berated himself, stepping further into the shadow of the large willow that stood along the flagged path leading to the church door. She was eye-catchingly beautiful, his Mandy. His Mandy—for about twenty more minutes. Her veil lifted in the breeze and his eyes blurred. What was he doing, letting her walk out of his life? But it was too late now—had been too late for two years. She deserves better, he reminded himself. She deserves stability and constancy, she is no rolling stone—not like me.
   She was almost abreast the tree. Look at me, he thought. No, don’t look at me, keep your eye on your future path instead. But she did look. Her eyes widened slightly, she faltered for an instant. But then she took another step and another. Towards her future. Towards a life without him. Johnny couldn’t hold back a low “Mandy-girl” and then he fled.

Willow, Nature, Plant, Spring, Tree

She’d seen him the moment she set a foot on the path. A shadow under the tree, a familiar outline she tried so desperately not to look at—but did anyway. She heard him say her name and turned his way. He was already halfway to the dry-stone wall that encircled the ancient graveyard, moving so swiftly he stumbled. For an instant or two, he steadied himself against a tree before squaring his shoulders and walking away. She couldn’t bear it.
   “I can’t do this,” she said out loud. Off came her veil and she handed the bouquet to one of her surprised bridesmaids. “I have to…” She hurried after him. “Johnny!” she called. If anything, he increased his pace. “Johnny!” she screamed, kicking off her shoes. And then she was running after him, yelling his name. After all, some dreams are just too precious to give up on—no matter how fragile and ephemeral they may be.

Hands, Friendship, Love, Trust, Friends

© Anna Belfrage

Did you guess the song title?
Hold Me Now by Johnny Logan
(Official You Tube Video)

Inspired by Eurovision Song Winner Hold me Now, by Johnny Logan. Best song in the world to cry to in this humble 
writer’s opinion…


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history and writing.  Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
At present, Anna is busy with a new series, The Wanderer, featuring fated lovers Jason and Helle.

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds


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There will be another story inspired by a song tomorrow!

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The Full List of Authors

December
2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica Lainé  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th HAPPY CHRISTMAS
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud
31st  HAPPY NEW YEAR

 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required

10 December 2019

Silk Stockings by Erica Lainé - A Story Inspired By A Song


Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...

Pumps, Legs, Woman, Shoes, Paragraph

(adult content)

1940s England...

Joan opened the tube of Velva Leg Film, sun beige, promising a sheer textured finish. She ran her hand down her bare legs, no prickly stubble, all smooth and ready for the application. She used the cream carefully, watching her pink and white skin disappear under the filmy lotion; and there they were. Legs with stockings, legs that could be slipped into a pair of high heeled shoes and dance down to the nightclub for an adventure. Adventures were what she wanted after a week of standing at the bench in the factory slowly and carefully filling the shells with yellow explosive powder.
George had managed to get a table at the front of the dining area where they could see the jazz band and watch the singer who was crooning into the microphone. They had to share the table with another couple, she was all Veronica Lake blonde, suicide blonde thought Joan, dyed by her own hand. He was small and rather ferrety looking. One of those little men who could get you anything if you paid enough, she knew the type. To be avoided. Unfortunately he and George had begun some sort of conversation about essential supplies, the blonde woman looked very bored and powdered her nose, showing off the gilt compact before snapping it shut.
Joan leant back in her chair and sipped the bitter lemon. She didn’t drink or smoke, her father had promised her £10 if she could make it to her twenty-first birthday without touching alcohol or cigarettes and she was determined to get to April 13th, only three weeks to go.
‘Yours in a reserved occupation, like mine? They do go on, don’t they?’
Joan turned in the half-light to see an amused face, red lipstick and a fall of yellow hair.
‘Well, I suppose they do, yes.’
‘Known him long?’
‘Since I began work at the factory, he’s in charge of the wages office.’
‘That’s handy!’
Joan blushed and said, ‘No, he’s not like that.’
‘Charlie will talk to anyone about stuff that he can move about, if you know what I mean. My name’s Winifred by the way, I hate it when people call me Winnie, like I was Churchill or something. What’s yours?’
‘Joan, it’s my second name, my first name’s Beatrice, horrid name, I don’t like it at all.’  This all came out in a rush.
 ‘Come on, I want to dance. And so does Joan.’ Winifred had stood up, her hands on her hips.
They were moving around the dance floor, George looking all moony and holding her a bit too tight.
‘He’s a card that one and she seems like a real glamour girl.’
‘Not really our sort are they?’ Joan sniffed.
‘Well, they like the same music, look at them!’
Charlie and Winifred swirled by, deft, fast and very practiced.
George grinned down at Joan, ‘Perhaps they could teach us a few moves.’
And when they all sat down again he said how much they’d admired their style and was there a chance of changing partners to pick up a tip or two?
Charlie was holding Joan very closely in the darkest corner of the floor, insinuating a hand up and down her spine, his fingers splayed and tickling her too. She was far too warm, uncomfortable, wanted to get away, they weren’t really dancing at all, he was just there, hands exploring, he had the other hand at the side of her thigh, pulling and pushing at the thin material. He’d insisted she put her hands on his shoulders, to get the feel of the right way to stand for the dance. She felt foolish and trapped, standing there like a lemon while he pawed at her.
‘No stockings, clever girl with your paint on stuff, but I could get you a nice pair or two of some lovely silk stockings, a suspender belt as well if you need one, you’d look good in silk, all the better to slip into.’
She turned her head away from the mouth that was intent on hers, he was panting slightly now.
‘You be a nice girl to me and you’ll see what I can do for you, come on, lovely young thing like you could do with a good time, I can give you such a spin, you’ll see stars before the night’s over.’
Joan pulled away, wiping her hands down the side of her dress. She looked around for George, he was jiving furiously with Winifred who looked impassive as she kicked and flicked.
‘I must go…thank you… but no, I don’t want any stockings.’  And she walked unsteadily to George in the middle of the scrum of dancers.
‘Can we go now, I don’t feel very well.’
George was disappointed to leave so early, she knew that, but he could see she was unhappy, pale and quiet, leaning her head on the bus window. He got off at her stop too and followed her in, making sure she was safely home. Her parents always left the hall light on, they didn’t really sleep until they heard her slam the front door and lock it.
‘See you tomorrow,’ he kissed the top of her head, ‘get a good night’s sleep, you’ll be tickety boo in no time,’ and he left humming something from one of those American musicals.
Afterwards she often wondered if it was because of that particular night out when George began to change, more insistent when he kissed her, whispering what she considered smutty nonsense in her ear, but she had to admit she felt herself relaxing into his arms more and more, enjoying the fumbles under her sweater and skirt.
George still managed to get tickets to go dancing and they saw Charlie and Winifred a couple of times, Joan ignored them both but Winifred winked at her and said something about Charlie will always be ready for a spin if you fancy one. George muttered about having a quick drink later with Charlie and they nearly had a bit of a barney about that, she just hoped they’d seen the last of them.
Then the doodlebugs started dropping and everyone felt very nervous. Such beautiful summer weather but such horrors in the air. Joan clung to George and cried and he kissed away her tears, producing a small, square box.
‘Here, I’ve wanted to give you this for a long time, it’s a ring to say will you marry me.’


Ring, Jewlry, Engagement, Gold, Yellow

In September they were married in All Hallows church – now Joan was twenty-one she didn’t have to ask permission but her parents were happy about George with his good prospects and her mother relished the mother of the bride role, even with all the restrictions.
‘It’s going to have to be a small do, about thirty guests, the vicar’s got four other weddings that day so I said we’d have the mid-morning and then we can have a nice lunch before you go away.’
Joan was threading a ribbon through a petticoat, something blue. She looked up.
‘Here’s my something old, and my something blue.’ She finished her work and shook out the petticoat, ‘Something borrowed and something new. Well, I’m borrowing the dress from Mary, it’s been worn a couple of times already, but that’s how it is. The material’s alright, sort of slippery satin. Nice colour though. But nothing new unless you count my lipstick.’
Her mother talked to the greengrocer and he tried to make a bouquet out of red roses. More of a bunch than anything, thought Joan. And George had given her a pair of silk stockings to wear with her going away outfit, no point wearing them under the long dress, but with the greeny tweed suit and its box pleated skirt and her brown high heeled shoes, stockings were a lovely extra. 
The reception pushed the boat out, ham salad, tinned cling peaches and a blancmange. Beer and wine too, Joan drank a glass of sparkling white, her first taste ever.  After the toasts there was a fruit cake, George had managed to get it from somewhere.
‘Silk stockings, fruit cake, you must have some friends who can do more than lend things.’
Joan smiled up at him as they cut into the cake, and George tapped the side of his nose, ‘I know what I want for my best girl on our wedding day, everything we can get hold of.’

Wedding, Bride, White, Dress, Marriage

Joan sat on the edge of the bed in the double front room at the guesthouse where they were booked in for three nights. George knelt in front of her and slowly unclipped the silk stockings, rolling each one down with great care.
‘Wouldn’t do to ladder these, my word you have lovely legs.’ He fumbled behind her and unhooked the suspender belt, impatient now. His voice was thick as he stroked her bare legs, reaching up under the hemmed edge of her panties.
‘Shall I take them off?’
‘I should say so, here let me help.’
She stood up and they both pulled at the material.
‘I made them myself, out of an old silk blouse, it had quite gone under the arms but mother said there was enough for some French knickers.’
Her voice died away as they stood together, scrabbling at the belt on George’s trousers, he kicked them off and pulled up his shirt, Joan helping him get it over his head. She put her hands flat on his naked chest, feeling his skin and lifted her face for him to kiss. Then she closed her eyes as he pushed her onto the bed...
...‘Who’s wearing silk stockings?’ was a phrase that set off an erotic ritual, he watching her putting them on, Joan parading boldly, and then very carefully they would sit close together and George would peel them off, both breathless with excitement at what was to come.
She rinsed out the stockings in the washbasin in their room, no Lux flakes, just a sliver of soap, but they didn't need much, not really dirty. Joan giggled; well they were dirty in a good way, in a way that took them both into another world of secret delights. She pushed away the idea that George might have acquired the silky pair from Charlie. She shuddered to think that Charlie was somehow lurking in their new lives together. She resolutely kept him at distance.

Feet, Young, Happy, Marriage, Retro

Of course he wasn’t at a distance; he involved George in several little schemes after the war. Get rich quick ideas. Some had worked out alright, but one or two had been very close to getting them into serious trouble, even Winifred had been worried. Joan was very relieved when George was offered work out of the city, the new biscuit factory in Essex needed a manager. Harlow was a dream with its pedestrian centre and shopping precincts. And here they’d stayed right up until the factory closed down. George flush with his redundancy money had been keen to go out to live in Spain where Charlie and Winifred ran an English pub but Joan put her foot down, their lives were different now. There were grandchildren to see and the garden was exactly as she’d always wanted it. No, they would stay here. And that was that.


Joan plodded back to her bed and sat heavily. Her clothes were to hand, a pair of pull on track suit bottoms, a blouse with colour coded buttons so she knew where the first one was, non-slip, Velcro fastened, wide fitting shoes, a shawl cardigan. Ready for the day, sort of. George was already downstairs, kettle on, cornflakes in two blue and white striped bowls, the newspaper folded by his place. She sighed; they were such different people now, the essence of themselves perhaps. Once their essence had been wild loving sex and fun for all. Gone, all gone. She opened the drawer where a pair of neatly coiled silk stockings lived, so innocent, so important. She took out a pair of thermal socks. She’d never worn tights.


Socks, Wool, Knitting Clothing

©  Erica Lainé

Did you guess the song title?

Anything Goes

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, hat and close-up


Erica Lainé has been an actress, a beauty consultant, a box office manager for an arts festival, a domiciliary librarian, a reader liaison officer, a speech and drama teacher, a writer of TEFL textbooks for Chinese primary schools, and an educational project manager for the British Council in Hong Kong. She was awarded an MBE for her work there. She lived in London in the late '50s as a drama student and then as a young wife and mother until 1977. After her life in Hong Kong she came to south west France in 1997 with her architect husband to the glorious house he had designed, a conversion from a cottage and barn. She lives here with him, a cat and a dog and rooms filled with a lifetime collection of books. She is president of An Aquitaine Historical Society and through that organisation came to know about Isabella of Angoulême, the subject of her trilogy. She continues to be fascinated and intrigued by 13th century France and England and their tangled connections.

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Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds


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The Full List of Authors

December
2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica Lainé  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th HAPPY CHRISTMAS
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud
31st  HAPPY NEW YEAR

 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required