He Had It All Planned

Last week’s Crimson Creative Challenge was the picture of an old bridge with a tunnel underneath. See it Here. I wrote this story in my head, but only now have I got it in a proper file.

It’s a modern romantic tale — a bit silly perhaps. Sadly, it violates Crimson’s 150-word limit by almost 600 words, so I’m going to use a different picture and post it as my response to today’s Word of the Day prompt: CAREFUL. Nevin’s plans were carefully made, but he didn’t factor in one little unknown that made all the difference.

 

Tunnel.Nuremberg

THE TUNNEL OF LOVE

“Here we are.” Nevin and Wendy got out of the car. “Let’s get us one of those paddle boats and sail away.”

Wendy’s eye sparkled. “I love paddle boats.”

Ten more minutes, he thought, smiling. Everything’s set up and the operation will be in full swing before she catches on.

But Wendy had stopped and was staring toward the dark opening. “Umm… Is that the tunnel you want to go through? It’s so…dark.”

“That’s the idea, sweetheart. Couples do a little smooching in the shadows before they come out the other side.” He kissed her cheek. “And I’ll be right beside you.” He took her hand and tugged her toward the paddle boat rentals.

She turned to him, her face pale. “Uh… I don’t think I can do this.”

Nevin raised his brows in surprise. “Why? You’re not scared of the dark, are you?”

“No. It’s just that when we were children my brother and I explored a cave one day. We didn’t know bats were roosting in it and our light scared them.” She shuddered. “We were so terrified. All those bats flying around us…and that awful squeaking. I’ll never forget it.”

“But there’s nothing to be scared of here. You can believe the River Council won’t allow any bats to roost in their tunnel. Come on. You’ll like it inside.”

They walked closer to the tunnel’s mouth and Wendy peered in, just as several high-pitched squeals drifted out of the tunnel. “Ack,” she shrieked and jumped back.

Nevin groaned. What’s he doing in there anyway? Tuning the thing? I’m gonna have some sharp words for him about his rotten timing.

Wendy was clinging to him now. “I’m sorry, Nev. I just can’t go in there.” The desperate note in her voice tugged at his heart.

Nevin pictured his careful plans sailing south. “Okay, I don’t want to force you to do something that terrifies you. You go back to the car, Wendy. I have to make a phone call.”

He pulled out his cellular as Wendy walked back to the parking lot alone, probably still thinking about bats. He kicked at a protruding cobblestone. Bats. Rats! Once he knew she’d be out of hearing, he dialed and waited for Cole to answer.

“Plans blew up,” he said. “Who knew she’d be scared of dark tunnels. And bats.” Nevin gritted his teeth. “It didn’t help that she heard some squeaks from the tunnel at the worst possible moment.”

“Hey, man, so sorry about that. I had no idea. Just doing a bit of…never mind. I’ll still get paid, won’t I? It’s my time. I need the cash.”

Nevin blew out a sigh. “Yes, you’ll still get paid. We’ll work something else out.” He ended the call, shoved his phone back in his pocket and headed for the car.

“Who knew,” Cole grumbled, replacing his violin back in its case. He brushed the strings lovingly before closing the lid.

“Women!” He yanked at the balloon strings he’d wrapped around a loose stone. And what was he supposed to do with these? The neighbour kids would probably like some balloons. They wouldn’t care about the writing… But they couldn’t be left floating around; he’d best just pop them.

He frowned when several strings pulled loose. Before he could grab them again, a capricious breeze swept the two bobbing balloons out of the tunnel. Cole shrugged and took a better hold on the others. Picking up his violin, he headed out the other exit.

“Look, Nev!” Wendy, standing beside the car, pointed. “Those balloons just blew out of the tunnel! Hey, there’s even some writing on them.”

Nevin slapped his forehead. He was so going to have words with Cole. Maybe I’ll only pay him half what he asked for.

If the breeze would at least move the things away, but no. The balloons dipped down and bobbed toward them; now Wendy was racing to catch one. Talk about the best laid plans going awry.

She succeeded in grabbing the end of a dangling string. “It says… Oooooh,” she squealed. “It says, ‘I love you Wendy. Please marry me’.” She turned to him with a huge grin. “Oh, Nevin, you’re so romantic!”

“At least I was trying to be,” he replied. “Things didn’t work out as planned.”

“Oh. You had these in the tunnel…and I spoiled it. But these balloons popped out at just the right time. And my answer is yes!” She flung herself into his arms. “I would be delighted to marry you.”

He grinned and wrapped her in a tight hug. “Then we have a perfect ending.”

Of Downfalls and Updrafts

The young woman rushed along the street in a fit of desperate emotion. Life was over for her! What dreadful future predictions played out in her mind as she headed for the Clifton bridge? Was the weather as dismal as Sarah’s spirits that day? Surely you wouldn’t start out in the bright sunshine to fling yourself off a bridge?

Yet that’s exactly what Sarah was about to do. She’d just received a letter from her fiancé breaking their engagement. She’d never hold her head up again. Back in 1885 this rejection would have seemed like the end of the world to the heart-broken young miss and she was going to end it all. Leave all the heartaches of Earth behind.

A nagging voice in her head — we all know it, that voice of “all hope lost” — drove her on. “Love is lost forever. There’s nothing ahead for you but a long and dreary spinsterhood. You can’t live without him. And the shame! Jump, by all means. Jump.”

Sarah walked onto the bridge and looked down through her tears to where the river wound through the gorge 245 feet below. Another wave of despair swept over her and she climbed over the railings and onto the parapet. One last sob and she leaped into the emptiness.

But air isn’t empty. And in this case a draft of wind, coupled with her volumnious petticoats, considerably impeded her descent. To Sarah, the fall must have felt like slow motion, as the wind caught and swelled her wide skirt and crinoline. Down she drifted, not into the water below, but onto the riverbank where she sank deep into the soft mud that prevented her serious injury.

Astounded watchers below rushed to the spot and pulled her out, shocked but unharmed.

Sarah later married and lived to be 85.

Wikki tells us:

Sarah Ann Henley was a barmaid from Easton, Bristol, who became famous in 1885 for surviving an attempted suicide by jumping from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a fall of almost 75 metres.

And poet William E. Heasell wrote a verse about the event:

An Early Parachute Descent in Bristol

Once in Victoria’s golden age
When crinolines were all the rage
A dame in fashionable attire
Would change her life for one up higher
So up to Clifton Bridge she went
And made a parachute descent
But though, ’twas not the lady’s wish
A boatman hooked her like a fish
And thus a slave to fashion’s laws
Was snatched from out of Death’s hungry jaws
This story’s true I’d have you know
And thus it only goes to show.

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My response to today’s writing prompts:

Fandango: LEAVE
Word of the Day: DISMAL
Ragtag Daily Prompt: WALK

Trivia Question for Over-60’s

Fandango’s word for today is PARODY

A song from long, long ago popped into my mind this morning. The human brain is constantly storing more data-bits and when you get past sixty there’s an incredible info-cyclone swirling around up there. You may not find the name or detail you’re specifically looking for, but all kinds of other things pop up.

The song I thought of, sung by Paul Peterson in 1962, was a parody, or spoof, on what all a woman carries in her purse. As the story goes, this fellow drives his girl home after a date and walks her to the door, hoping for a good-night kiss. (Oh, for those innocent songs again!)

But he has a long wait ahead.
“She says just a moment please. I can’t find my keys.”

So she opens her purse and proceeds to pull out all manner of things, while he laments, “But I’m standin’ here waitin’ for a goodnight kiss,
’cause she can’t find her keys.”

Now here’s your question, old time trivia fans with good memories —and NO Googling:
Can you name three things she pulled out of her purse while she was hunting for her keys?

Heart’s Ease

The HeartsEase Tea Shoppe was almost deserted when he stepped inside that morning. Lianne, who was filling salt shakers, looked up when the little bell at the door tinkled. She rolled her eyes when she saw the hopeful smile Mike beamed at her.

“Is it just happenstance that he shows up now, or has he been watching for a slack time? Persistent he is.” Lianne grabbed her order book and walked over to the table he’d chosen.

“May I take your order, sir?” She felt the corners of her mouth wanting to curve into a smile, but she ordered herself to smarten up. She was not falling for this guy’s charm.

“Hello, Sweetie. Fancy meeting you here.”

“I doubt if there’s anything fancy about it. I’m thinking just plain persistence. Weren’t you in here last week, too?” She glared at him sternly. If only the corners of her mouth would stop trying to turn into a grin! She waved her pen at him. “May I take your order please.”

He put on a dejected look. “Do I dare order coffee in a Tea Shop…since I’ve dared to come in here in the first place? The waitress doesn’t seem friendly.”

Lianne glanced at the only other occupied table, where two elderly ladies were having tea. She saw one of them adjust her hearing aid. “All the better to hear you with, my dear.” She tried to hide the smile that came with that thought.

When she looked back at Mike, he was grinning mischievously. “Can you find me a sweet cookie with a heart on top,” he asked her, giving a wink to the tea grannies.

Lianne heard a little twitter from the other table and heard one woman say, “We’d be able to see out the window better if we moved over a bit.” Both ladies slid their chairs over as far as they could in the direction of Mike’s table.

Lianne rolled her eyes. She gave Mike an exaggerated frown. “Can you hurry up and order.”

He chuckled. “Now, Lee. Is that any way to treat a paying customer? Why, I might even buy a cinnamon roll and leave you a big tip when I leave.”

“Perhaps I should leave you a big tip, too.”

“If you can tell me how to impress a girl I’m madly in love with.”

She slid into the chair across from him. “We have a special Healthy Harvest whole grain bagel with low-calorie spread. It has no sugar, no cholesterol, no spices, no cream cheese. It’s perfect for people with heart problems.”

He sighed and put his elbows on the table. “I was hoping for something with dates in it.”

Lianne laughed in spite of herself. “You’re a nut.”

The two old ladies at the other table giggled between sips of tea.

“Just think of me as a big teddy bear with a huge attraction to a certain honey tree. I can’t help myself; I just keep coming back, hoping. If you give me some heart’s ease here, I promise I’ll straighten up and make something of myself. And I’ll always treat you right, Lee.”

“So you say. But what if…”

A shrill voice from the next table interrupted her. “For pity sake, young lady, give the man a chance!”

Lianne grabbed a white napkin off the table and waved it in the air. “Alright, Mike. Let’s talk about it.” She glanced at the two ladies, both of them nodding and wearing big grins. “After work,” she added.

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Fandango’s challenge word for today: HEART

Molly From Cork

“Molly O’Haggerty Rourke
my colleen from county o’ Cork,
oh, I’ll soon be sailing—
now don’t you go wailing!—
My fortune I seek in New York.”

Says Molly O’Haggerty Rourke,
“Your colleen from county o’ Cork,
sure, you’ll be forgettin’
as soon as you’re settin’
your eyes on the girls of New York.”

I says to her, “Love don’t you frown,
your trust I will never let down.
I’ll send for you, sweetheart;
we’ll both make a new start
and light up the streets of York town.”

My response to Fandango’s FOWC word: ENERGY

First posted April 22, 2016 on Friday Tales