When You Assume . . .
Written as part of a challenge for the Writer’s Workshop session at the
2016 BATB convention “A Life Without Limits: A Steampunk Fantasy.”
In terms of placing this story within my “universe,” I have determined that
this little vignette happens PRIOR to “Arthur’s Gift,”
so this is pre-first kiss, pre-Jamie and Mouse.
Vincent had been looking forward all week to an opportunity to visit with Catherine on their balcony. Her work schedule had been completely packed, but they’d finally agreed to meet on Friday night.
However, when Vincent arrived at Catherine’s balcony that evening, he was surprised to find it dark and deserted.
No comfy nest of pillows and blankets.
No lights on inside.
And no sign of his beloved Catherine.
“Oh well,” he thought. “Perhaps she’s been delayed at the office.”
As he settled himself on the wrought-iron chair by her patio table to wait for Catherine to come home, the wind ruffled the edge of a note held in place by the book of Shakespeare sonnets he’d given her.
Curious, he reached for the note, and was shocked to read:
Vincent, please come inside.
I have a big surprise for you.
Immediately, Vincent’s unruly imagination leaped to forbidden visions of Catherine in one of her lovely negligees, reclining on a blanket by the fire.
Waiting for him.
His heart raced. Did he dare? With trembling hands, he opened the door to her living room but was nonplussed (Disappointed? Where did that thought come from?) to find Catherine sitting on her sofa by the low-banked fire, in the dark, still dressed in her work clothes.
“Oh, Vincent!” she cried, leaping up to hug him. “I’m so glad you’re finally here! Come sit down. I have something to show you.”
Vincent’s heart sped up again. Perhaps he’d arrived before she’d had an opportunity to change into something . . . more alluring. (Stop that! For heaven’s sake, pull yourself together!)
Catherine turned on one of her living room lamps, crossed to her bedroom doors, and opened them wide to reveal – Jamie!
But it was Jamie as he’d never seen her before – all decked out in a beautiful cocktail dress and heels, with her hair artfully curled about her shoulders, lovely subtle makeup, and stunning jewelry.
“Jamie!” he murmured, astonished, and reeling a bit from his somewhat thwarted expectations. “How lovely you look! Catherine, what -- ?”
“Doesn’t she look wonderful?” Catherine enthused. “Michael needs a date for a college dance, and Jamie asked me to help her get ready tonight. We thought we’d surprise you!”
“What do you think, Vincent?” Jamie asked shyly. “Will this be OK for Michael’s dance?”
“You look stunning,” Vincent replied, still coming to terms with his mistaken assumption about the meaning of Catherine’s cryptic note, and completely floored by Jamie’s sudden transformation from tomboy to ingénue. “I just can’t believe our little Jamie has suddenly become such a lovely young woman!”
“Well, remember Love,” said Catherine, wrapping him in a warm hug. “We all have to grow up someday.”