Long Ago and Far Away

Long Ago and Far Away

“Love makes its own way, in its own time,” the old woman whispered in the flickering shadows which danced about a pair of newborn babes who studied her wrinkly face and knowing eyes. It was in a time long ago and a land far away, the beginnings of this story of love.

The mothers of the newborns never forgot the whispered words of the old midwife, which they often repeated to  remind themselves of the love that awaited their babes.

It would be a love more splendid than any other, as radiant as the morning sun, and forever lasting. Most important though, it would be a love that their Elliot and their Elsa would find far from each other, never together. This, they would see to, a vow they made that night as shadows flickered long ago and far away.

Just because they shared the same straw roof, was no reason their children would do the same. The very thought of her Elliot becoming entangled with the likes of Elsa, made his loving mother shudder and shutter the windows when the skinny little urchin girl played outside.

“Come inside,” Elliot’s mother would say to the sighing eyes of her handsome son. Inside, he would come and there he would stay, only ever stealing a peak at the girl his mother despised when he knew his mother wasn’t looking.

Elsa’s mother had no use for Elliot either, the clumsy scarecrow of a boy who lived upstairs. Many times, Elsa’s mother made her re-iron the family linens and re-wash the dishes a second and even third time to keep her beautiful daughter inside. She would not dare take a chance that her daughter would fall in love with the likes of the miscreant she watched with suspicious eyes.

Elsa watched him too; the boy her mother loathed, always in secret though, through the curtains, behind the kitchen sink, when breezes of spring made them dance about like the ruffles on her dress.

One time, he even smiled at her but only for a second. She tried to smile back, not knowing if she should, something she would wonder about. It was something he would wonder about also, as he lay sleepless thinking of the girl who lived down stairs, so very close, so very far away.

“Your princess will one day come,” his loving mother promised, when he asked her about love and that sort of thing. He pretended to believe her as the years passed and with sad eyes he watched himself no longer the boy who once smiled back from his lonely mirror.

“Your prince will one day come,” Elsa heard Ingrid mother’s say to her sad eyed daughter who also watched herself  in a mirror as lonely as his. Then Elliot listened, as Ingrid’s mother described her daughter’s prince, all dressed in shining armor, brave as a lion, and so very, very handsome.

No prince would ever smile back at him from inside his mirror. His mother was just telling him that. One day, the beautiful girl he stole shy forbidden glances of, would be gone, swept away. He would be alone and all he could do was write silly love poems and songs to a girl who would never hear them. His poems and songs were best kept to himself anyway. He heard what Elsa’s mother said about him when she knew he was listening.

“That clumsy boy with rocks for brains. That pudd’in head.”

Still, late at night when his chores were done and the house was silent, the sound of his pen could be heard scratching out, “I love yous,” and “Forevers,”  as he pined for the girl who in her restless sleep dreamed of him . Then, when he was done, his love all poured out, in heart broken frustration, he would tear what he had written in shreds and feed it to the night wind…the tiny shreds of love.

“Gone forever,” he would tell his heart never knowing that it really wasn’t. His letters of love, landing in the web of a writing spider who made her home in the privet bush beneath his window, never went very far at all.

By the light of the silvery moon and far away stars, the spider, when she wasn’t busy, would gather the snippets and gently lay them at the edge of her web. With babies to tend, she never went far.

It was there, in the fringes of the spider’s web, that Ingrid would find them, these shreds of love from the boy above.

The, “I love yous,” and, “forevers,” made her heart beat fast as she went about piecing them together and reading them until the morning sun peaked in on her.

That spider dancing about in her web delivering messages of love was something even the old whispering woman couldn’t have imagined when she saw love in the future of the babies she held long ago and far away.

It’s so very strange how love makes its own way and in its own time.

Elliot and Elsa got married and lived happily ever after and their mothers take turns rocking their babies.

This is a work of fiction. Edward Reed 2019