Home » A Wasted Life » Short Stories » The Bittersweet Farewell – Chapter Two

The Bittersweet Farewell – Chapter Two

She was smiling as she watched him drive down the road, and as his car crested the hill, she couldn’t see that he was smiling, too.

When she went inside, she sat down in the comfortable side chair and said, “oh Papa.  I’ve just had hot chocolate and a Bonbon with the man I’m going to marry.” Papa smiled and said, “good Heavens, child.  Is he a prophet?”

With a twinkle in his eyes he said, “I seem to recall a certain young lady professing that she would not, under any circumstances marry, as that kind of commitment would never allow her to have the freedom to do as she wished.”

Alice, in an almost dream-like state, said, “oh, Papa.  He’s so very fine and polite and charming and handsome and smart.” Papa said, “and does he share this infatuation?” Alice said, “it’s not an infatuation, Papa.  You know how it is when you meet someone and you instantly know that they’re the one.”

Papa looked down and said, “yes child.  I know the feeling.  It was that way with your mother.  I knew the first time I laid eyes on her that she was the only one for me.  I still miss her every day, and I thank God that He allowed me to have you to remember her by.” Alice got up and put her arms around him.  She said, “I’m sorry if I made you feel sad, Papa.”  

He said, “with great love, there is always great sorrow when one of you dies, but it is with love and happiness that I remember her.  She wouldn’t have wanted me to remember her with tears and sadness.” He sat down and said, “now tell me more about your young man.”

Alice said, “he’s a structural engineer and he wants to build things that will last.  He’s not a ‘here and now’ person.  He wants future generations to appreciate things that will endure throughout the ages.”

Papa smiled and said, “well, I’d like to meet him.  Bring him to dinner on Sunday.”  Then he leaned toward her and said, “but you must be careful who you give your heart to.  You must be sure, because when you give your heart away, it should be forever.”

Alice smiled and said, “Papa, you’re such a romantic.  I can see why mother loved you so much, and that’s why I love you so much.” Papa chuckled and said, “get off with you now.”

Suddenly Alice spun around and said, “oh Papa.  I don’t even know how to get in touch with him.”  Thinking aloud, she said, “I’ll go into town tomorrow and look for him.  That would be quite forward and very unladylike but…” Before she could finish her mental strategy, Papa said, “maybe you could drive into town, get stuck in a ditch, and he could rescue you again.”

Alice looked at him with wide-eyed surprise, but said nothing.  He had a playfulness in his eyes when he said, “did you think that young Jacob was the only one who saw you?”

Once again, Alice hugged him and said, “Papa, you’re so wise and so wonderful and I do love you so dearly.”

He said, “how about we both take a trip into town tomorrow?  It might not look so…how did you put it?  So forward and unladylike?” Alice almost squealed with delight.  “Yes, Papa.  That’s what we shall do. Oh, thank you Papa.  Thank you.  Thank you.”

The next day, Alice and Papa drove into town, past Granville’s Department Store toward the Worth Building, thinking they might see him there.

When they didn’t, they drove to Tierney’s and just as they arrived, they saw Jacob. His arms were wrapped tightly around a woman, and they watched as he gave her a soft kiss on the cheek.

Bravely trying to hide her disappointment, Alice asked Papa to take her home.  As he was turning the car around to leave, Jacob caught a glimpse of Alice, and couldn’t hide the surprised look on his face.

Alice looked straight ahead as they left, and neither she nor Papa said a word as he drove down the road.  Papa felt helpless. He knew about sadness, he knew about loss, and he knew about the pain they caused.

He didn’t want his precious daughter to know those feelings at such a young age, but he knew that after a period of mourning, her heart would heal.  She had her whole life ahead of her, and love would find her again. He was sure of that.

Alice retreated to her bedroom and stayed there for the rest of the day. Papa knew that grief makes one so terribly tired, and maybe sleep would give her the strength she needed to face tomorrow.

Early the next afternoon Jacob arrived, unannounced and uninvited.  When Papa greeted him at the door, he stepped outside so as not to disturb Alice.

Jacob introduced himself and said, “forgive my familiarity, but my intentions are to call on Lissy.” Papa was a kind man, but he became a fierce warrior when it came to protecting his daughter.  He told Jacob that he and Alice had both seen his “intentions” at Tierney’s, and he and his familiarity were not welcome.

Before Jacob could protest, Papa said, “as you can imagine, my daughter is very precious to me.  She is my only child and I will not allow anyone to toy with her affections.  I appreciate your help when my car was stuck in a ditch, but my gratitude does not include allowing you to trifle with my daughter’s heart.  Now, off you go.”

A pleading Jacob said, “Forgive me, but I don’t understand.”  Papa said, “Alice and I saw you holding another woman in town yesterday.”  Jacob took a deep breath and said, “what you saw is not what it seems, and if you would just let me explain…”

Papa interrupted and said, “son, I don’t want to be impertinent, but I know men like you.  Handsome, charming men who are familiar to many, but faithful to none.  I feel quite certain that there are several young women who would be more than happy to accompany you in your life’s many endeavors.  Alice, however, will not be one of them.  Now, I really must ask you to leave.”

Jacob started to walk away but turned and quietly said, “the woman you saw me embracing yesterday is named Grace. She is my sister.”

Three months later, Alice and Jacob were married.  Papa and Grace stood beside them as they spoke their vows, and Papa beamed with pride.

Alice and Grace became as close as sisters, and when Jacob was out of town supervising a new building he designed, they would meet for hot chocolate and a Bonbon at Tierney’s.  There they would chat about life and love, and occasionally indulge in improper gossip, surrounding the local men who allegedly frequented a house of ill repute.

Grace was as full of life as Alice.  Although not brave enough to defy tradition the way Alice did, she was certainly one of a kind, and was what you might call, “a silent protester.”

Alice loved to hear the childhood stories Grace told about Jacob.  She was such a delightful, detail oriented story-teller, and ofttimes told them with a mischievous look in her eyes.  Alice listened with focused intensity and relished every word, every nuance and every particular.

To be continued_____________________

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