Romance Fiction posted September 5, 2014 Chapters: Prologue 1 -2- 3... 


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A chapter in the book Enchanted Balcony

Enchanted Balcony Part II

by Loren (7)


Camille stood on the second story landing, outside her apartment door. She held her hands behind her back as if hiding them.

She heard James making his way up the stairs and when she saw the top of his head, before their eyes could meet, she called out, her voice unsteady:


"It's a brace."

James looked up and smiled. "If that is what you call climbing these stairs, then aye, it is a brace." The ice cake was resting over his left shoulder, water dripping onto his shirt.


"No, I mean my leg. I had polio." She glanced down at her feet.

He stood a few steps down from her and looked up. "Well then, does it help you walk?"

"Yes."

"Then it is a good thing. " He moved to stand beside her. "Now, if you'd be a good lass and open the lid to your icebox so I can put this cake down, it would be dear. 'Tis heavy and end of day makes it seem more so."

Camille blushed. "Yes, of course. This way." The kitchen faced west. Open cafe curtains allowed the rich glow of the setting sun to pour into the room. She opened the lid of the oak ice box; its hinges gave a quiet squeak.

"I'll drop this in and go down to get the water for your garden. My Lady sends her thanks for lessening her load at end of day, as well. That was our last cake. It's a good and charitable thing you're doing tonight, Camille."

"My Lady talks?"

"Aye, at times she does. So much that I can't keep my thoughts apart from hers."

Camille laughed. "Would she like a carrot? My Lady, I mean."

"Aye, she would. There's Timothy Grass stored in the back of the wagon soaked with melted Brigadoon water to quench her thirst. I've put it in front of her as I toted this load up. The carrot will be a prize and she'll be most beholden."

"Which she will tell you."

"That she will, I'm sure." He looked in her face.

She seemed startled by the keen, intelligent blueness of his eyes, even the one half-hidden by the drooping lid. So much so, she blushed. "Yes, then let me get it from the vegetable bin."

A rustling noise from the living room disrupted their talk. The sound was followed by the click of the radio being turned on. A few moments later, Camille's mother, Rose Marie, entered the kitchen. Her face was puffed with sleep. She squinted into the light and brushed a few strands of hair from her face. "I thought I heard voices."

"Mother, this is James. He's the iceman and he's brought up a cake of ice for us."

James nodded and smiled. "You've a lovely home and daughter, Ma'am."

Rose Marie stared into his face. "Misfortune shadows us all, doesn't it? To some, it seems, to blur their vision as well."

"Pardon?"

She waved him off. "Nothing." She moved past him. "You drive a horse-drawn wagon?"

"That I do."

Staring out the window, she asked: "How do you manage, driving half-blind?"

"Mother!"

"My Lady is a boon companion and leads me well. I trust her and she me."

"My Lady?"

"It is his horse, Mother. His helpmate."

Rose Marie turned and looked him up and down. "So you say." She moved to the cabinet over the sink and opened its door. "Ah, there it is; a fresh bottle of wine." She heaved her chest and nodded. "My helpmate." She picked it up, holding it gently. "I will be taking this down to the Thompson's myself to offer our condolence."

It's getting late, Mama. They might need to grieve alone as a family."

"It is when you are alone, Camille, and night closes in you need condolence most. I should know." She looked at her daughter, her dark eyes vacuous yet pleading. Her voice broke. "It is unbearable."

"Mama, please ..."

Rose Marie turned to James, this time avoiding his face. "As for you, Mr. Iceman, I am not comfortable leaving my daughter alone in the house with a stranger. It is improper." She raised her chin. "I will leave the hall door open and would imagine you will be gone by the time I return." She turned away, chin still raised high. Hugging the wine bottle to her side, she moved into the living room and walked out the hallway door, leaving it open as promised.

"James, I'm so sorry," Camille's face was flushed with shame. "She was not always like this ... " Her gaze went to the open hallway door.

He followed her gaze. "It's okay, Camille; she looks to be in pain."

Camille nodded with a whisper, "She is."

"Then I take no offense. It is the same as when My Lady kicked me, it was done out of fear, naw out of meanness. She kicked out what was closest to her. And glad I was it was me she kicked out at so I could be the one to forgive her. Fear and pain are the same, Camille." He glanced at the balcony just off the living room. "I'll take that carrot now and go fetch that water to feed your garden. Do you have a ladle to dip it from the pan?"

She looked around, eyes stopping at the mahogany china hutch where she had placed her gloves earlier that day. She walked to what sat next to the gloves. "Only this." She held up a delicate, translucent cup, embellished with a lavender rose. "It's chipped, but I think it will do."

As he took it from her hand, their fingers touched and for a brief moment their eyes met. "Aye, it will do most well. 'Tis Irish Belleek from County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, home of my ancestor." He swallowed hard, his eyes locked into hers. "Though it be chipped, it will not hinder its new service."

Camille did not look away. They fell silent as soft coos from the doves nestled on the balustrade outside drew their attention back to the room.

A voice from the radio further disturbed the quiet. "And now KVX, Atlanta, takes you to the Stardust Ballroom in beautiful downtown Savannah Georgia, where dreams not only come true but...

Camille pulled away, her eyes cast down. "Yes, I'll take it out to the balcony and wait for you while you fetch the water."

"The magic water, Camille," his was voice soft. "Melted from Brigadoon ice."

She looked up, meeting his eyes once more. She smiled. "Yes, magic water, to make the flowers even more beautiful than they are now. " She stopped. "Do you really think that possible, James? That there are things that can make the ordinary extraordinary or even the peculiar mundane?" She looked away. "How often have I wished to be no more than common?"

"If you speak of your brace as making you uncommon, Camille, then you are wrong. And yes, I do believe there are things to make the ordinary extraordinary. But, to have such a miracle, you must first believe." The crimson of the night horizon burnished to gold. For a moment, it held them as one in a soft soliloquy of light. "Let me go fetch that water and give this carrot to My Lady before it wilts. I will be but a moment and meet you on the balcony."

As he left through the open door, a stray calico cat rushed past him, tail held high in the air. His face was disfigured, as from many fights. One eye was half-closed and he had a noticeable limp to his stride. With unseen purpose, he made his way to the balcony and stepped outside.

The waiting doves did not fly away.

To be continued.......


Recognized


I've been asked if this story, in part, is symbolic. The simple answer is, yes. All the way from the two doves, which might be obvious to the various infirmities, the chipped tea cup, the flowers and even the calico cat that wandered in. But most telling is My Lady -- James' "help mate". But, foremost and above all else, it is a love story.
Enjoy and thank you for reading and your comments.
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Artwork by CammyCards at FanArtReview.com

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