Saturday, 20 July 2013

RFW July - Honeymoon

It’s time to head back to Romantic Friday Writers, where the challenge for July is Honeymoon, following on most naturally from where the June one ended. I am posting my flash bang in the middle of my nth mini-moon to the Himalayas, and majorly apt it feels to me too. :)

As always, look forward to your feedback and of course reading the entries, when I get back to my own laptop.

The Right Words
I didn’t think of Paul, or his hometown very often, so it was a shock when Chet finally told me.  I had to think for a split second why the destination made me uneasy, felt ominous somehow, more significant than I could immediately pinpoint.  Then I remembered and my brain went into a tailspin, one memory among the whole rising like a black plume of smoke.
Chet stood non-plussed meanwhile, the knot in his forehead made the breath snag in my throat.  It always did.
“What’s the matter, Savvy? You haven’t been there, have you? Do you want the bookings changed?”
“No, I haven’t been there” I tried to figure out the right words, but there weren’t any, “it’s fine, really.”
His frown smoothened. Should I tell him? Wouldn’t that make it seem more important than it was? I dithered; the chance passed.  It was a memory I was happy to forget, I had buried it deep.  It was all so long ago.
Paul and I met at Perugia, both of us out of our respective hometowns and I massively out of my depth.  We were both doing language programmes, both lonely.  I talked to him about my island home, and he told me about his.  He was on a sabbatical, an air-traffic-controller or a coastguard or something, studying Italian to better his career graph.  I didn’t have any job experience, or any experience for that matter, just a meagre scholarship.
Soon I was in love with that asphyxiating desperation only youth can muster.  We spent more and more time together, I spent more and more of my scholarship money on things most unscholarly, it’s a familiar story.  The only difference was the end.  Instead of the usual dust up, Paul robbed me, then beat me almost to death, and left for good.  Friends picked up my pieces and put them back together.  I had failed my exams, had no money, had no stomach to ask my parents back home for help or explain the whole sordid saga.  So I made a patchy recovery, stayed on and worked at whatever meanly-paid jobs I could find.  I lost my self-esteem, but I managed the degree.   
I left Perugia a year later, came back home.  I never mentioned Paul to anyone.  My parents were puzzled, but they attributed the changes to my being away, alone, among strangers.  I never corrected them, didn’t see the use.  The nightmares persisted for some years.  I avoided going out, avoided men.  But time coats the most excruciating memories with the tarnish of forgetfulness, fades every scar.  There were others later, who helped rub them out.  It had been a long time.
Chet was the guy next door.  He moved in and on the first evening knocked to ask for coffee because his wasn’t organised.  We kind of fell into the habit of seeing each other.  He wooed me slowly, as though he had all the time in the world, and  he'd flash me that high-voltage slow smile making my heart turn over.
This time love washed over me in an insidious tide, I never quite knew when the waters got so deep, so thrillingly high.  Yet there was also a coming to rest, a firmly grounded, bone-deep contentment in the very centrepoint of my life.  When he brought up the idea of marriage, I didn’t even have to think.  I was the wedding planner, it was going to be a simple one anyway. Chet ran a travel business, so naturally his were the honeymoon arrangements.  He had asked my preferences a few times, diffident, wanting to please. “Surprise me,” I had said breezily.  And so he had, and how!
The wedding was a blur.  I tried to look suitably dignified, but probably smiled too wide and too much.  Chet’s hand at my waist rested with an authority I’d never experienced before, his fingers taking the moonstone clips from my hair later had an entirely new tenderness.  In all that time, among the people, and then away from them, I never figured out the right words.  Not even when Chet kissed my scar.
The flight out was uneventful but I felt edgy for no logical reason.  I had a brand new husband who loved me passionately, and who I loved as deeply, life was as good as it can possibly get.  What were the chances of something going wrong?
It was a fine, clear day and the island sat like a jewel embedded in a turquoise sea.  We landed and came through to the customs from the baggage carousel.
“Welcome to Valletta, ma’am, can I just have your bag in the scanner for a minute?”
The voice was the same.  I looked straight at the same face that had looked at me as I had coughed blood and fainted, only then I hadn’t noticed how sly his smile was, how cruel his eyes set deep in their sockets.  I saw them widen and knew that I too had been recognised.  I checked the name tag, but it was totally superfluous.
“Savannah? Savvy?”
I had expected to be nervous, too freaked out to think straight, but my voice was steady.  I had forgotten, he was a customs officer.  From the look of it, his sabbatical hadn’t helped his career graph much.  I turned to Chet, his forehead was knotting up in that delicious way again.
“Chet, this is Paul.  We studied together at Perugia. I was lovesick for him once, but got cured after he beat me to a pulp. He’s the one who gave me that scar.”
I didn’t speak especially loud, but the words carried.  Another officer looked around, astonished.  No-one said anything.  Our cases came through the baggage X-ray.  I grasped Chet’s hand and drew him close, my heart soaring at the firm squeeze he gave my fingers.  Paul remained frozen, his mouth agape.  We picked up the bags, walked on and out into the sunshine.
WC - 995


  1. Great story, so glad she managed to find strength in her new love.

  2. Nilanjana what can I say! This is excellent. So many descriptive sentences. Well done. I only caught one mistake which may not even be a mistake, just bugged me. You have improved by leaps and bounds.

  3. Well, that's a kick in the ego to the dreadful Paul. What a nasty type! And what brave words Savvy uttered to the creep. No doubt his job will be in jeopardy now, and rightly so. I expect she and Chet will go onto have a glorious honeymoon now that that is out in the open.

    Nilanjana, I am always amazed at you. Your prose seems as effortless as your poetry. I'm so glad you found the time/technology to post this while in the Himalayas. I appreciate it more than you know. More on that later.

    Hope you're having an amazing time!


  4. This was excellent Nila. Very powerful, evocative descriptions. I loved Chet for grasping her hand and walking her quickly away; and was very proud of the strength in Savvy's voice as she confronted her abuser and continued on with her new, attentive husband.

    For all its intensity, this was a beautiful romance with an appropriately happy and satisfactory ending. Well done with the honeymoon theme.

    Thanks for participating with RFW this month Nilanjana.


  5. I liked this because it was a complete story and had a satisfactory curve. Savvy bravely confronts her past and deals with Paul honestly.

  6. I appreciate Chet for developing such trust and confidence in savy. His attitude and understanding mentality only gave savy the strength to openly and honestly disclose everything instead of getting freaked out. Yes, just the Right words to push the wrong person into a deep abyss and at the same time gain much much more love from the right person.
    First time here, Loved your style of painting with words. Its so natural and free flowing as if I'm watching everything with my own eyes. Following here after.

  7. Awesome, loved, loved, the ending! The found strength, the love of the man beside her! Love this happy ending!

  8. Thank you all for the feedback. Still on shared connections, will be back soon and hope to catch up then.

  9. very well written piece Nilanjana. It is very difficult to find true love, but not impossible. Being deeply loved by someone gives you the strength and confidence to face the predicaments such as confronting your tumultuos past, challenging and complicated present and ofcourse the unforeseeable future

    1. True, a supportive partner does wonders for self-condidence. Thanks for the feedback.