An Engagement is Announced (2012)

Charles Langford had just finished announcing his engagement to various relatives of Langford blood when the phone rang. He didn’t rush to it, but idly wandered in its direction, thinking about the multitude of possible well-wishers that could be on the line.

Instead, when he finally picked it up, there came no direct call of response.

“Hello? Hello?”

The line crackled for a minute, breaking on the receiver, before Charles identified the light sounds of breathing trickling through.

“Is there somewhere there?” he said, letting no conviction break into his voice.

With one squeak, the line broke off, and Charles remained with a silent receiver in his palms.  


He punched in the number of Jon, his best friend, and an officer of the law.

“Charles? That was quick. I thought you were going to phone the rest of your family now.”

Charles didn’t intend to beat around the bush with pleasantries.

“I think Marie’s got hold of the phone number to the flat,” he said in a level tone.

“Another blank phone call?”

“Yes. Just breathing. You don’t think it could be her?”

“It’s very likely, Charles. The West girls are full of intellect these days.”

“Damn,” Charles breathed.

“If you want me to-”

“No, don’t push her yet. I’ve got to go.”

Charles hung up, his mind full. He wandered, with less bounce in his step this time, back through the somewhat-empty halls of the newly-bought flat to a living room, already decked in grace and cosy ornaments. Charles was still due to inherit his family home, but until then, he had been given several armchairs and armoires from the abode to fill up his tiny place. The Langfords didn’t believe in keeping one to flounder.

On an oak desk lay a framed photograph of the woman Charles adored, Dea, his bride-to-be with a halo of blonde cut to her face. She was a modern woman, but it was for her temperament and scholarliness that Charles doted on her.

However, Charles had not always had such a wise head for choosing who to love.

He unlocked the topmost of the drawers that stood under Dea’s photograph. Inside lay a tin box and within that lay three items that only brought disgrace and ill-temperament to Charles’ memory. A lock of hair as black as rain; a locket, too, gleamed in that place; and the last love-letter to make the set. They were all from her, an object of desire and a woman of youth.

“But too young,” said Charles to himself, fingering the pages of the letter. Too young and too full of tears when he has aid that he no longer wanted to see her.

After all, a full-blown relationship- or continuation of their affair thus far- would have destroyed his teaching career in one, epitomised blow. He had only been a junior tutor back then, but there were still lurking consequences…

Nevertheless, Charles couldn’t help letting a little of the tenderness for her back into his heart and mind. She had been gentle, and a girl of intense poetics, if not a wild seventeen year old.

“An error. It was two years ago,” Charles told himself, slamming the drawer venomously shut, hateful to the feelings that brewed inside him when he thought of her.

Unfortunately, judging by the growing number of anonymous phone calls, Marie West was not the best woman to have broken up with.

The End

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