He had hurt her so much over the past weeks, not only with words but also with the back of his hand. So many times had she been confronted with his anger, and was so often tempted to respond in kind and hit back.
For much too long she had allowed herself to be bullied and humiliated.
Originally, she had intensions of marrying Carl, but conditions over the last month had deteriorated.
She hadn’t seen him for more than two weeks, but recently this was not a new thing, Carl was often missing for days.
Today was the first day of a new beginning. Laura had finally worked up the courage to pack her few belongings and walk out the door. Saying goodbye to the kind of lifestyle she had experienced wasn’t difficult.
Finding a new life must surely be an improvement, on what she had endured, since arriving four months previously.
Alone, standing on the platform at the train station, she glanced around at the other passengers, waiting to board. A young boy stared at her as he clung tenaciously to his mother's hand.
Laura smiled as he cheekily poked out his tongue when he noticed her looking.
The train pulled into the station.
Nervously glancing backwards, Laura grabbed her small travelling bag, her worldly possessions, and boarded the train.
She managed to find a seat near the window and struggled as she forced her meagre belongings onto the overhead rack. Then relaxing back into the seat she gazed out of the window.
Her hands shook a little when she thought of the ordeal she had been through, and found it hard to understand. The beautiful letters he had written to her, full of love and understanding. She had been so convinced she had met her true love.
She looked out of the window. The countryside whizzed by as the train gathered speed.
It had been, just weeks since she had first met Carl.
He had made such a fuss of her. Initially she had felt so much love with the man she had corresponded with through a dating agency. It was a mutual agreement that she should visit him and stay for a period. This would allow them to meet and spend some time together. In the first weeks, life together had been wonderful. His parents were deceased and he had a brother.
He appeared to be lonely and Laura was now convinced that it was loneliness
that had encouraged him to seek friendship, by finding a partner.
Now, after such a short period, she couldn’t identify the wonderful person she had at first met, compared with the miserable character she had just abandoned.
The change had been so sudden and drastic! It was the violence she dreaded most, and finally she made up her mind to leave.
What puzzled her was that though his anger was genuine she had detected sadness in his voice.
On one occasion when she pointed this out, he became even angrier.
She reached into her handbag and took out a bundle of letters, neatly tied with ribbon. These letters were the wonderful attraction that had drawn her to him.
A single teardrop traced its way down her cheek as she gently untied the bow. She felt so fortunate to be seated alone, giving her the privacy to read and reminisce.
Further down the carriage a man entered the compartment.
He raised his eyes, scanning the occupants of the carriage. A smile blossomed on his handsome face as he recognised Laura.
Casually, he made his way to her side.
She recognised him instantly, it was Carl’s brother, Howard. She had met him briefly on several occasions during her stay with Carl.
” May I sit here?” he asked softly. He smiled down at her rather drawn face.
She nodded her head slowly and he seated himself opposite.
She returned the letters, reluctantly, to her bag and relaxed back into her seat. For a few moments he too gazed out of the window, then, turning his head to face her, started to speak.
“Laura,” her head raised defiantly, as she looked directly into his eyes.
“I hope you are not attempting to persuade me to return to Howard,”
She was conscious of his handsome looks, with generous locks of dark hair.
“I do understand how you feel Laura,” he said in a soft voice, “ and I certainly owe you an explanation. “ She tried to smile but couldn’t hold back the tears that welled from her eyes.
“Please don’t cry, Laura,” his voice was gentle and kind as he extracted a large handkerchief from his pocket. “I am so very sorry for what has happened.”
The shock of Howard’s appearance on the train had increased her anxiety.
She had no idea of her eventual destination. Escape had been the only thing in her mind. She was so disturbed that Howard’s mission was to attempt to persuade her to return.
“Please allow me to explain Laura, I couldn’t let you go without you knowing the truth.” He passed her the newly laundered hanky and continued to speak.
“You remember your first date, arranged by the dating agency on the Internet.” Laura’s eyes widened as Howard related to her a perfect history of her past conversations with Carl.
The shock held her fast to her seat as he revealed that it was he who had written the letters, now in her bag, and was able to quote various passages from them.
“It was I who arranged for our first meeting. It all happened so quickly after you and I became Internet friendly.
Our parents died in an accident. This was a great loss to Carl and myself, but eventually, we settled down in our various jobs and had our own interests.
Carl, who had his own ideas, tended to act alone and seemed quite happy in whatever he was doing, and then suddenly, it all changed!
He became miserable and moody and appeared to lack confidence in whatever he was doing.
He left his job and took on the belief that his condition had come about with him being so much alone and lacking female company, not just a sexual thing, but a genuine desire to settle down. He really missed his mother.
Most foolishly, in a way, I thought how I might help him out of his dilemma. The idea involved you, and I allowed him to take my place on our first date.
There was a remarkable change in his attitude to life, as if he had been reborn.
“My God! What had I done? How was I to tell him, Laura, that you were my choice? To have done so, would have returned him to his previous suicidal intensions.
My sadness took on where his had left off. I had forfeited my only true love!
It was only weeks later that Carl was diagnosed with cancer and that his life expectancy was measured in weeks. How could I tell him?
My heart ached when I discovered how he had been treating you. My love and respect for you increased to fever pitch, as from a distance, I realised how tolerant and caring you were to Carl.
I ask for your forgiveness Dear Laura!
I beg you. Please don’t leave me!”
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of James Woods.
Published on e-Stories.org on 16.12.2009.