A Change of Heart

 

He decided he could no longer remain the walls of their house, finding himself unable to get into Amy's room or even console her through the thin door through which he could hear her soft wailing. The sound pierced his heart and made his stomach sicken all at once, and he had to escape it until it had subsided.

Charles stepped outside, gently closing the front door behind him so that Amy would not hear. He sighed deeply, the cool, fresh air calming his anxious mind.  The breeze smelled of the rainy days of past, of emerald, windswept hillsides, and wandering roads filled with dusty travellers of faraway towns. He paced around their small front garden, shuffling through the stubs of green grass, the aroma of the garden's rosebuds wafting to him as he passed them.

Money was tight. At least with Mother at their side, they somehow seemed to make it through with what they had and lived in moderate comfort. Her illness had used so much of their savings, doctor's visits and medication, all in a futile attempt to rescue her from her inevitable end.  With the little money they had currently, it would be even harder than it was in the past - indeed it would be hard for Amy for a proper man to look after her as a husband....or Charles to find a wife. He brushed thoughts of his own self aside. Marriage was not a neccessity for a young man early in his life. For women, it was required. The longer you waited, as a woman, the less likely you are to find an eligible bachelor, unless you are so extraordinarily wealthy that time's ever-ticking clock does not matter.

Their father could change all that. He was from aristoracy, from money, from reputation. He could offer them anything they pleased - Charles an inheirtance and Amy a dowry...at least that's what he pressumed.

"Mr. Everwood!" The call of his name jerked him from his thoughts. Alarmed, he turned toward the road to face Mr. Thomas Medly, mounted on his grand black steed.

His mouth soured, a bitter taste settling on his tongue. Somehow he forced a smile and stepped toward the road where the man awaited. "Morning, Mr. Medly," Charles offered, trying to keep the distaste out of his mouth. "Not often do I see you around this way. Do you have business?"

"Just enjoying the beautiful day, Mr. Everwood," he answered with a smoothness that irked him. He was not called a handsome man, though he was not particularly ugly either, with a long, broad nose and a heavy brow, dark beady eyes glinting in the light. His build was strong and his shoulders set well, making up for the things lacking in his expression. "How is Miss. Everwood?"

"Fine, thank you. How is Miss. Harper?" Charles swallowed past his feelings, the rising fury in his gut and the clenching sadness grabbing at his heart.

Mr. Medley smiled, a firm, tight smirk that crossed his face, arrogance flickering in his annoying little eyes. But perhaps that was all just Charle's imagination. "Wonderful. We are both anxious for our marriage, so we are having it sooner than we planned. You are attending, of course?"

Charles paused thoughtfully. Certainly he did not want to attend - he did not desire to watch his former lover marry a man he loathed. But even as he thought of the indignation he held for the man, he realized that Mr Medley and himself, while they had not been close, they had always been cordial, and Thomas had always treated him kindly enough. Yet he could not watch him marry Bethany without a wretched feeling inside of him. No, he would not attend the wedding. And it seemed as if he could no longer stay here. At that moment, the last chip of realization had fallen into place in his mind, it appeared. The puzzle was coming together, the formation of a direction in which he and Amy should move forward.

"I am afraid we cannot. Miss. Everwood and I shall be leaving town within the fortnight to visit some relatives of ours."

Mr. Medley pouted, puzzled. "That's unfortunate.  I hope you will enjoy the break from town; I am aware that you have not been out in a while, and it should do the both of you well." 

"Thank you, Mr. Medley," Charles nodded briskly, only desiring to cut himself from Thomas so that he may return to the house. Now there was much packing to be done, a letter must be composed to their father.....

"Well, I best be off," Thomas gathered his reins, squinting his dark eyes as sun beams slipped through the clouds and feel upon his pasty white face. "Hopefully we shall meet again soon."

"Good day," he replied with the slight bow of the head, watching Mr. Medley spur his horse and disappear around the bend. My Bethany.....Mrs. Medley. Shaking himself, Charles returned to the house to tell Amy of the news. They were going to visit their Father.

The End

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