Thunder crashes and I count the seconds until the lighting explodes into the dark sky in a display of white light. I can no longer see the raindrops on the window as night has engulfed the sun with its black storm filled presence.
Watching the rain beat its hypnotic dance against the windows and the trails forming patterns sooths me. When I could no longer see the light disappointment arrives in its place.
I sit in the same spot everyday and when the day starts grey and ominous I am filled with contentment. It’s much more exciting when it rains. The spring blooms the garden in a sea of colour but the raindrops are serene and allow my imagination to rekindle as I see pictures in their watery path.
The day he left it was sunny and the sky sparkled so bright that I saw him for the last time through the shield of my dark lenses. Summer is my least favourite season now.
“I’ll write every day,” he promised.
I laughed gaily, frivolously. “You needn’t do it every day, darling,” I teased, caressing the short hair at the nape of his neck.
The goodbye kiss seems far too short now but perhaps my memory fails me. Too many bittersweet summers have passed. What has remained vivid in my aging mind is his handsome ruggedness in his officer’s uniform. His black hair shone in the hot sun the day the war took my Edmund away.
“Mrs Weatherdale, dinner is served in the green room. Mr Weatherdale asked me to fetch you.” The young housekeeper spoke timidly as though she was waiting for a reprisal. Some days there was. She obviously drew the shortest straw or lost rock paper scissors to receive the arduous job of fetching me.
“Will you push me? I’m far too tired today.”
The young girl stands behind the manual wheelchair that had become my permanent home a few years ago when a stroke disabled my legs. Both the doctors and Henry urged me to replace it with an electronic modern chair but what would a woman my age need with such technology and convenience. Besides I never travelled far and barely left the confines of the house. An occasional visit to the garden was usually taken with my oldest loyal worker, Mrs Brown.
Henry sits in his usual spot at the head of the table. His silver hair still flecked with the smallest traces of pepper. He may be well into his seventies but he is still the attractive man I married. The sound of raucous banter and stomping feet fills the room and my heart as our seven grandchildren pile into the room followed closely by their parents, one daughter and one son. My breath still catches when I see my Edward, so much like his father.
The day Edmund was lost to me I nursed the son sitting across from me now. It was summer again and news always seemed to be gloomy when all should be bright. Henry and I mourned together, me for a husband, him for a friend. It was his kindness and support which enticed me to accept his proposal
I smile at Henry across the table. A good husband and father to both my child and ours, I have been blessed to live the last forty odd years with such a kind and generous man. Our love is a comforting companionable kind. My passion died the day my Edmund walked into the sunshine.
For the second day in a row I can enjoy the summer rain fading the sun and the memories. Lately the images are lucid and I ponder after all these years why they haunt me more now. I watch the rain for endless minutes, hours until the sun decides to push through and dries the puddles on the paths. The children burst outside, happy to be away from their unwanted prison during summer holidays.
The shooting pain I’m so accustomed to stabs at the back of my eyes and it hurts to stare out the window as the raindrops dry on the glass in front of me. I blink once, twice, cursing as I see a soldier walking up the path towards the window. I gasp when he stops on the grass and waves to me. Edmund. Why does my old mind have to make him so stark, so real? Why did the rain have to stop? He beckons me with his hand, urging me to join him outside. I shake my head once at the impossibility of the suggestion.
“Time to come to me, Lizzy,” he says from the garden and it’s as though he stands beside me.
I believe I have lost the last of my sanity. Edmund is a hallucination or I have dropped off again.
“Close your eyes, darling, let yourself go. I’ve been waiting for you.”
I don’t want to close my eyes for to do so would mean he would disappear yet his soothing words lull my lids down. A brief flick open of them shows he still waits so I close my eyes and allow my body to relax.
When I open my eyes again I’m standing, walking towards the garden and Edmund. I catch my reflection in the large hall mirror and I’m young again, blonde, beautiful and I cannot help but grin. I rush from the house and run to the open arms of my handsome Edmund.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for you,” he whispers. He takes my hand and we stroll towards the light.