Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Anniversary by F H Douglas

‘Would this be it?  Would she be there this year?” Hugh Dušan thought, sipping a black coffee in a pavement cafe by the river Vltava.  His throat burned as he swallowed the scalding, thick, bitter tasting liquid.  Today was their 10th wedding anniversary, or at least it would have been if he knew where she was.  Three years ago Edda had vanished without a word.
Edda; beautiful with her long, black curls, always smelling of coconut and papaya, and her dark, olive complexion, skin like velvet to the touch.  He missed her so much.  They’d met here, in Prague, some 13 years ago.  How romantic the Charles Bridge looked that night as they’d strolled across.  It was all lit up, reflecting it’s own image in the waters of the Vltava.  Hugh checked his watch.  ‘If she comes, she’ll be at the bridge at dusk’ he told himself. 
They’d been back in Prague when Edda disappeared. She had been waiting for him in a little restaurant not far from here.  Hugh was late thanks to an urgent call from work.  By the time Hugh arrived, she had gone.  She must have left in a hurry as she left her handbag behind.  Hugh tried to find her, but there was no trace of her, not in Prague nor their home in Oxford, not even with her family in Italy.  Eventually he returned to Prague hoping one day she would return.

The air turned bitter as dusk descended.  Hugh knew it was time.  He pulled on his overcoat, pulling it tight to his neck, and walked towards the bridge.  He paused at the bridge, closed his eyes.  ‘Tonight, please be here tonight.’ he prayed.  Just then Hugh smelt the familiar scent of coconut and papaya.  He opened his eyes.  There she was, a few steps ahead, tall and elegant her long, black curls turning silver.  “Edda,Edda”  She didn’t seem to hear him.  Hugh took a few steps towards her.  A sharp pain pierced his stomach.  He doubled over and clutched at it.  He looked down and saw his hands were covered in blood.  “Edda, Edda.”  This time she turned around.  Had she heard him?  The blood continued to pour as he fell against the Bridge’s wall.  She was coming over, she must have seen him, but why wasn’t she running?  Why wasn’t anyone helping him?  He felt himself growing weaker.  ‘Not dying,' he thought ‘No, this was an entirely new feeling.  Fading.’

This was the first time Edda had dared come back here.  It was 3 years since Hugh’s murder.  The grief had been unbearable for so long.  Today was her first step to breaking free from it’s grasp.  She knelt by the wall where it had happened, placing a single long-stemmed red rose there, tears stinging her eyes.  Quietly she spoke to the wall “Hugh, I will always love you, but it’s been long enough.”  She got up and walked towards the Old Square knowing she would never return.

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‘Would this be it?  Would she be there this year?” Hugh Dušan thought, sipping a black coffee in a pavement cafe by the river Vltava.  His throat burned as he swallowed the scalding, thick, bitter tasting liquid.  Today was their 10th wedding anniversary, or at least it would have been if he knew where she was.  Three years ago Edda had vanished without a word.
Edda; beautiful with her long, black curls, always smelling of coconut and papaya, and her dark, olive complexion, skin like velvet to the touch.  He missed her so much.  They’d met here, in Prague, some 13 years ago.  How romantic the Charles Bridge looked that night as they’d strolled across.  It was all lit up, reflecting it’s own image in the waters of the Vltava.  Hugh checked his watch.  ‘If she comes, she’ll be at the bridge at dusk’ he told himself. 
They’d been back in Prague when Edda disappeared. She had been waiting for him in a little restaurant not far from here.  Hugh was late thanks to an urgent call from work.  By the time Hugh arrived, she had gone.  She must have left in a hurry as she left her handbag behind.  Hugh tried to find her, but there was no trace of her, not in Prague nor their home in Oxford, not even with her family in Italy.  Eventually he returned to Prague hoping one day she would return.

The air turned bitter as dusk descended.  Hugh knew it was time.  He pulled on his overcoat, pulling it tight to his neck, and walked towards the bridge.  He paused at the bridge, closed his eyes.  ‘Tonight, please be here tonight.’ he prayed.  Just then Hugh smelt the familiar scent of coconut and papaya.  He opened his eyes.  There she was, a few steps ahead, tall and elegant her long, black curls turning silver.  “Edda,Edda”  She didn’t seem to hear him.  Hugh took a few steps towards her.  A sharp pain pierced his stomach.  He doubled over and clutched at it.  He looked down and saw his hands were covered in blood.  “Edda, Edda.”  This time she turned around.  Had she heard him?  The blood continued to pour as he fell against the Bridge’s wall.  She was coming over, she must have seen him, but why wasn’t she running?  Why wasn’t anyone helping him?  He felt himself growing weaker.  ‘Not dying,' he thought ‘No, this was an entirely new feeling.  Fading.’

This was the first time Edda had dared come back here.  It was 3 years since Hugh’s murder.  The grief had been unbearable for so long.  Today was her first step to breaking free from it’s grasp.  She knelt by the wall where it had happened, placing a single long-stemmed red rose there, tears stinging her eyes.  Quietly she spoke to the wall “Hugh, I will always love you, but it’s been long enough.”  She got up and walked towards the Old Square knowing she would never return.


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