If you have read this blog for a while, you will know that now and again I publish a short story. This is part one of a new story that I hope you will enjoy. It is all fiction, although inspired by people I have met or know personally. As always I have no pretension to be writing great literature, just a small diversion from our daily routine.
As she watched the car drive away, through the trees and down the lane, a shiver went up her back and she wrapped her cotton robe a little tighter around her waist. The children had booked a crack-of-dawn train up to Paris and she insisted on getting up early to wave them goodbye, make them coffee and fuss over their baggage, even though everyone knew it was unnecessary.
The taxi finally disappeared from sight, and she turned to the golden retriever sitting patiently beside her. He looked up, his eyes full of trust and expectation, as if to say, “so, what now?”. “Well Ben, it’s just you and me. I guess we have to decide on the next chapter together”. She ruffled the hair on the top of his head and he took that as a sign that the ‘waving-goodbye-to-the-kids-ceremony’ was over and that if he played his cards right, it may even be time for breakfast. Turning around, he bounded back towards the house and Kathy was surprised to feel her eyes well up with tears. She looked around her, the beautiful view from the forest back across the hills, the morning dew, the big old stone house, that special provencal light … it felt rather surreal and she suddenly felt dreadfully alone. She sighed aloud, and whispered to herself “and to think it all started because I missed a train”.
Kathy had spent the last two weeks with her three grown children in her house in the Provence. Since Pierre’s accident the previous winter, she knew that the kids were worried about her feeling lonely, and they tried to call or come down whenever they could, but they were each young adults now, at the start of their professional lives, and their own adventures. The two weeks with them in the house had been bliss, she cooked for them, after dinner each night they chatted till late, they went out for meals to favourite restaurants and generally relaxed together in that special way that only a close family can.
Emma, her eldest, had tried to talk to her a couple of times about selling the house and moving up to Paris to be closer, but Kathy smiled and changed the subject. Why would she leave this beautiful home that she loved so much, and that was so full of all the memories of her life in France? The house where her children grew up, the house where she and Pierre lived for nigh on forty years. She was not ready to say good bye. But she knew she would have to find a new reason to live and very soon.
One evening, after a delicious dinner and a bottle of wine that they shared as they chatted in the candlelight, Emma had said “tell us again the story of how you and Dad met”. Kathy smiled and laughed, “Well it was all the fault of the ticket machine at the train station. I was a young american, fresh out of college, working as an au pair in a tiny village in the loire valley, and once a week I had a day off. That week I planned to go to Paris for the day, and was excited to catch the morning train. But once there, I couldn’t get the machine to work and when it finally produced the ticket I ran out on to the platform only to see my train pull out of the station. I was so mad that I threw my bag to the ground, and cursed the railway system out loud, in english. Then I heard a laugh behind me and someone said “Don’t be mad, the best things ‘appen when our plans go wrong”. I turned around to see a dashing young French boy propping a bike up against the station wall and smiling at me. He had missed the train too, and there were no other trains for a couple of hours so together we walked out of the station to the nearby café and sat down on the terrace to drink a coffee.”
“Two hours later we heard the next train pull in to the station but neither of us even bothered to move, we were so engrossed in conversation. That day went past in a blur, his eyes were so blue and his smile so warm, and he made me laugh and made fun of my accent when I tried to speak in French. I never wanted to leave. When lunchtime came around we shared a simple omelette, and later in the afternoon he accompanied me back to the house where I was working, and promised to come by the next evening to take me to the cinema.”
“That week we went out together every evening, and the next week was the same. A month later I was due to fly home to the States and he asked me to marry him. A whirlwind romance, but I just knew from the start that I had met the love of my life.”
Emma smiled, “and what did your Mom say when you told her you fell in love with a French guy?”. Kathy chuckled, “That was not an easy conversation! Poor Mom, her hopes of having me live down the road and see her grandchildren every day were dashed to the ground. But she was very generous and never tried to influence me in my decision, so after a couple of months back in the States I returned to France and within six months of first meeting each other we were married. Best thing I ever did”. The children smiled, and Emma wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. Nobody wanted to mention the accident, it was still so painful, and each was aware that they all needed to move on and help each other mend, slowly but surely.
Still standing on the path, a brisk breeze woke Kathy from her thoughts, and she shivered a little in the morning freshness. She turned away from the driveway and shuddered as she remembered that conversation and the sweetness of having her children around “Oh Pierre, why aren’t you here with me?… ” she whispered to the wind but there was no reply.
The day passed slowly, as she tidied the house then sat down outisde with a coffee and a book the kids had left her. Mid-afternoon she heard a car draw up in front of the house. She walked out the door to find her girlfriend Marie France getting out of her little blue car. ” Bonjour ma cherie, comment vas tu?” Marie France had always been there for her, ever since the accident, and Kathy knew that she was aware that the children had returned to Paris today and that Kathy could probably do with a little company.
Marie France opened the trunk of her car. “Regardes ce que je t’amene! J’ai besoin de ton aide” “Look what I’ve got with me, I need your help”. She groaned as she lifted a heavy box from the car. Kathy laughed, “What ever are you doing? hauling rocks to my home?!” Marie France struggled to bring the box into Kathy’s big kitchen and dropped it heavily on the floor in the middle of the room.
“Voila, in zee village school I think it eez really dreadful becos ze children , zey have no bibliotheque, …..um, ‘ow you say?” Kathy smiled and prompted her friend “library…. bibliotheque in english is library” “Voila, of course, oui, alors zey ‘ave no library and I zink it will be a good idea for you to ‘elp zee school, to do zees for zee children” She paused, looking at Kathy with a triumphant smile, as if in one fell swoop she had found the answer to Kathy’s mourning and sudden loneliness.
Kathy smiled, and slowly shook her head. She didn’t want to hurt her friends feelings, and she loved the way Marie France always wanted to practice her english, even though Kathy’s French was fluent.
“Marie France, je te remercie, you are so kind to think of me this way …… but I have to say no. I need to be here for a while, in our home, working in the presence of Pierre, tu comprends? Do you understand?”
The truth was that during the holiday Kathy had taken some decisions that remained known only to her. Marie France looked disappointed and worried “mais Kathy, tu ne peux pas rester ici à ne rien faire, you cannot stay here and do nothing, it eez not good for your morale”
Kathy smiled, “sit down, I shall make you a coffee and explain”
An hour later, Marie France drove away from the house with her box of books, and a slightly bemused smile on her face. Kathy had been adamant, she had a plan.
The next chapter of this little story is now available, click on Part Two
The Path to Recovery – Part one
The Path to Recovery – Part Two
Oh my, I hope there is lots more of this to come. I am intrigued.
Sharon, you certainly have a true gift! It is difficult to wait for the next chapter. Thank you.
Beautifully written! Intriguing…
Always look forward to your short stories ..
You certainly have got me waiting for the next chapter!
Love your short stories! Beautiful and intriguing!
Delightful. Looking forward to more.
Sharon I love your short stories and sit
and smile as I read every chapter. So
I hope chapter 2 is coming soon
Love Your fiction..inspired!
Here we go again, with you leaving us hanging and anxiously waiting for more! Your short stories are never long enough but always a treat! So looking forward to the next chapter!
thank you Vicky, you are always so generous 🙂
My tears are flowing. It’s almost the third anniversary since my husband of 51 years passed away suddenly. A beautiful story -I’m sure something good is going to happen! Can’t wait. I need this, too!
Please tell me your husband being killed in an accident is not true? Hate to think of you all alone in that gorgeous place to live and your home. My husband and I will be married 50 yrs. end of this coming Nov. Much as he drives me crazy sometimes being together 24/7 would miss him so badly. Your home is so incredibly beautiful and all the wonderful scenery around you in France, how it would remind you of your husband. All your memories together. I sit here and get tears in my eyes just thinking of you being alone, knowing how I’d feel if that happened to my husband, would be so devastated. Am praying it is not so.If you told us about this happening in another post please forgive me for bringing it up again, we have terrible internet here. I miss posts too often or they don’t go thru. Too many times my posts overseas don’t go thru. Hoping you have a lovely weekend
Dear Janeellen, you are so sweet to be worried for me! This is just a piece of fiction, albeit with a sad beginning. It has no link to my life, or indeed my reality. Always be wary of what you read on the net!
Ok, I am ready for what comes next! ( I am deeply intrigued as I just came back from our first trip to Paris, and I am imagining returning to France one day, this time to Provence!) Your photographs are helping me dream away! Thank you!
This leaves me wanting more!
Whaaaat? You cannot stop there!
A widow too, Hope our woman gets a happy ending
Sharon it’s been too too long since you have given us a story to dream upon. Thank you. I’ve been waiting to have the wonderful experience that only you can give! Can’t wait for next chapter
Thank you Wanda, it’s not that I didn’t want to write, it was just tricky finding a moment where I had enough space in my head to let the story come together,
thank you for your kind comment
Another good story!!! Anxious to hear her plan! Until the next chapter… =)
I am so excited that you have written another story for us, that I had to thank you before I even started to read it. I am sure it will
be wonderful as the last few were. Thank you, thank you dear Sharon.
Except for the setting, this is a part of my present situation. I lost my husband of 60 years and live in the country with my dog, cat and horses. My sons think I should move to town but this home is where I belong with my memories. I look forward to the next installment. Best Wishes, Joan
Dear Joan, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you find comfort in your happy memories
Next month will mark the 1 year anniversary of losing my beloved after 62 years of marriage. We had a marvelous life, having lived all over the world. I miss him sorely; trying to find out how to live alone without loneliness! Life is a journey, and this is my new experience.
I’m on the hook, continue…………
Not being much for reading, part one really held my interest. Anxious for part two to see what her plan may be. <3
I love it! Great writing.
I’m hooked!!! Please, please please, don’t make us wait too long for the next installment!!
I loved your beautiful story!!! Your post has come at a needed time for me,real life is too heavy at the moment. Thank you so much!!!
Wonderful story…hopes, dreams, and future promises!! You weave a wonderful tapestry of life……you are truly gifted!!
Lovely! I look forward to seeing Kathy’s plan unfold.
I like small diversions from my daily routine. Thanks. Looking forward to more:)
Really enjoy your writing. And the story is relatable. Wanting more!
Love your short stories! So excited to have a new one to enjoy! Thank you!!
How delightful! Can’t wait for Part 2!!
What a surprised another short story and one I can relate to having lost my husband 14 years ago. And yes it’s devastating…but looking forward to the next chapter. Thank you, Sharon.
Always love your stories and can hardly wait for the next installment. Yet, at the same time, want them to continue on and on.
Don’t make us wait too long.
I love this story can’t wait for the rest reminds me a little of me. My husband also past away at our 40 th anniversary of cancer and my grown children also worried about being alone but they look after me and encourage me to get busy with my projects will be looking forward to read the rest of the story. It is a good and well written story thanks Sharon
Thank you Aurora. I’m sorry that you have experienced the loss of your husband, I hope you enjoy the next chapter
Aurora and Sharon,
I hope this gets through to you…….never replied before…we will see what happens. I, too, lost my husband to cancer, after a 2 year battle. He died July 22, 2018, two months after our 42nd wedding anniversary, and the day after my 62nd birthday. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly. We didn’t have children, but our nieces and nephews filled our hearts and lives with love. They have gathered around me to help me through this difficult time, as though they were indeed my very own dear children. I noticed you live in Seattle. I live in Wenatchee, Washington. My husband had a rare cancer, a sarcoma, that had to be treated in Seattle. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and University of Washington were amazing…..the Marriott on Lake Union became our second home. My grief has been most unusual……not at all what I expected. I wonder if your experience might be similar? Sharon’ story caught my interest, hoping that maybe the French way of grieving is different and possibly something that I might identify with, and find solace. I was with my husband when he passed, and my heart was flooded with gratitude for 42 years of the most amazing love I have ever known. Everyday since then my heart overflows with love…..I feel he is loving me more, now from the beyond, than he did when he was with me here on earth. I feel him in my heart…..and I feel him around me….protecting me…..
I pray your grief will be light and you memories a comfort to you, as you move on to the second chapter of your life. We are alike…….we must now design a new life that we will love…..our husband’ s tasks on earth are finished….but we still have a divinely appointed job to complete. May the Divine Grace guide us both.
Sharon, the story is so timely in my life, thank you for writing so beautifully about a delicate topic…..I can’t wait to read the rest
Thank you for your comment, and my sincere condolences for your loss. How wonderful that you have so many happy memories of your lives together, and can find comfort in that way
So intrigued by this..can’t wait for what is to come I enjoy your blog, stories, and your book!
Oh no, it finished too quickly, what’s the plan, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat…bring on the next part
Oh, Sharon! Thank you so much for this gift of another one of your short stories…though I wish they were longer and more frequent. 😉 I do enjoy reading them. You bring us right into the story so well, that I am right there with your characters! I lost my first husband 30 years ago at a young age and had to find my new reason to live as well. So anxious to read part two! ♥️
This little story, Chapter 1, resonates with me as I, too, am a widow (of 4 years now, though my Ned was incapacitated for several years prior to his passing). The adult children. The dog. The house. All of it. And, so I especially will be looking forward to reading your entire story, knowing you will give us a happy ending. I do miss our By Invitation Only series so much, but life changes and it was time for something else to come along. I’ve launched my children’s collection called LaLaLand Apparel for Kids, we are in several shops in the USA. A true labor of love & creativity for me. When you have a chance please look at the site:
Not to say this is the end of my story, but definitely the beginning of a new chapter.
Sending love, beautiful one.
I am so looking forward to what comes next!!!!
Lovely Sharon and love that you keep us suspended….in suspenders as my Dad would have said. Lovely to have a gentle story with feeling. Sue
Always love your short stories. You should put all of them in a little book.
Love your posts and stories. I forward it to three friends and they are looking forward to the next episode.
Eek! What’s the plan??? I want to know the plan!! ♥️
I love this! Looking forward to Part 2!
Yea! Another story- I love it!.
A side road amidst all your projects -perhaps, if not a novel, you could publish a book of short stories?
You are a story teller. Always enjoyable. Looking forward to the next chapter. Thank you, Sharon.
Not realizing I had come to the end of the first part…I was scrambling to find the next page…was so sad to realize… that was it for now…great reading… <3
Patiently waiting for the next chapter.
Intriguing – can’t wait for next chapter.
Your short stories are always so nice.
Looking forward for the next part.
So exciting to see more of your delightful writing! Your stories are always so well-written and so hopeful – thank you for sharing!
Sharon, I so enjoy your small diversions from our daily routines. I also enjoy learning a tiny bit more French from this story. Thanks for sharing French sentences with English translations. Looking forward to the next installment of a diversion from my daily routine.
I, too, hoped on reading the opening, that nothing sad had befallen your life! I’m enjoying reading in French, so do continue to include conversations with your friend(s), along with the translations!
I’m betting you were a storyteller to your little ones, too; am I right? (I find they have liked made-up stories best of all!)
Many of us are looking forward to Chapter 2.
Hi Sharon, I am from South Africa and new to your short stories. But, oh my!! What an intriguing story! I visited Provence in 2016 and fell in love – of course. So, reading a story about French provencal living is such a delight for me! Can’t wait for the next chapter. Thank you so much for a good read.
This is such a sweet, sad story, can’t wait to see more. I always enjoy these, you are very gifted.
Love your stories and the photo’s you put with them. This one reminds me of the home I visit down in St. Jean du Gard occasionally. It is owned by an American, as well. Look forward to the next chapter!
PS—-Loved the August Kitchen Box!!!
I am looking forward to the next chapter.
Sharon, I love seeing your stories pop up in my in box. It is always around the time we are coming out of winter here in Australia, and your stories always make me feel excited by the new beginning of spring ahead, the new possibilities. Can’t wait for the next installment. Shell.x
This is lovely and certainly hits home with me, even though my marriage ended ugly. I can’t wait until the next chapter—for both Kathy and me!
I love Marie-France 😉
[…] If you missed the first chapter you can find it here. […]
Loved this story line…I find myself working hours on end outside in my gardens, like today! I came inside to relax and was excited to see part two and had to read it to see how it ended! Just loved it…so creative! Still think you should make a collection of all your stories and publish them in one book, as I find myself rereading them now and again. =)