Chapter 10

Written by: Anna Zhigareva

Fran could smell the agitation. It was so present she could almost see it. Almost... They stood in the hallway, all three of them, nervous and rigid. Fran could hear the anxious rubbing of Nelson’s teeth against each other as he moved his clenched jaw. Marjory’s laboured breathing bounced off the walls in shuddery gasps. She was worried. The question was why. But Fran dared not break the silence.

At last, she felt the air move as Nelson made a tentative step forward and took her hands in his.

“I love you.”

The three words rang in the empty hallway. The silence that followed Marjory’s sharp intake of breath and her quiet retreat back up the staircase was deafening. It pressed onto Fran’s ears and dragged her to the floor. She would have fallen if Nelson hadn’t been there to hold her steady.

“Marry me, Fran.”

Another three words, and another excruciating silence. How could her life have changed so drastically just minutes after Nelson’s arrival? Fran yearned to see Marjory’s reaction – she knew she was still standing on the staircase, holding her breath – but everywhere she turned, a murky greyness greeted her.  

In the chaos that had consumed her brain – memories, good and bad, feelings, emotions, repulsions, need – she had been too afraid to ask the most important question. Did she love him? Truly, as a woman loves a man she can blindly trust? She smirked at the true meaning of the one phrase that now circled her crowded head.

She wanted to push him away but he was holding her. She wanted to shake off all thoughts of him, but once the memories had been recovered there was no stopping them. And they were good memories – mostly. What was it people said about the past? Let go and move on? If only she could summon the courage... But in the past lay some of the best moments of her life, things she knew she would never ever do again. Her first and only sky dive on holiday with Nelson, the time they sat freezing behind the dashboard of Nellie’s old pick-up to see the sunrise build from beyond the horizon out at sea… There were endless such memories. They had not been corrupted by the one thing he had done to hurt her, because perhaps…just perhaps…she had never understood how truly scared he had been. And perhaps if she had let him come back earlier, they would have had something even better, healed each other, made each other the happiest they had ever been. A different happy, but happy nonetheless.

In that moment of utter confusion and ringing silence, Fran pulled him towards her and pressed her lips against his as if everything depended on it. And, in the love-filled mistiness of her thoughts, she felt him tenderly, softly slip a ring onto her finger so that when they broke away from the kiss, she would feel as if it had always been there, in its rightful place.


Anna, this is a wonderful chapter. You captured the emotional moment and wound up w ith a happy ending that did not slip into cliche. It is beautifully done and a perfect ending!
What an emotional serial this has been, so many 'ups' and 'downs' and 'ifs' and 'maybes'. And so beautifully ended by you Anna. I wonder when you first wrote the starter if you imagined the serial to go the way it has. Great stuff. :)
Magnificent Anna... a fitting ending to a wonderful story.