Catch Me If I Fall

Mrs. Lovett woke up early that morning. At first it was unclear to her what the particular reason for this was: at Sunday morning she usually slept until ten or maybe even eleven o'clock. But today was different. There was a strange expectation in the air, a restless energy.

She opened the curtains and peeked outside. The sun was shining for the first time in months. She sighed, relieved: finally, another seemingly eternal London winter came to an end… for now at least. The weather changes before you know it.

Mrs. Lovett felt the sudden need to go out and enjoy the warmth now that it was possible. Maybe her pale skin would look a bit healthier and perhaps she wouldn't feel so cold after she had been out for a while.

She dressed quickly. Because Toby was still sleeping and she even didn't dare to think of what Sweeney Todd was doing, she just made breakfast for herself. Toby would eat hours later, and Mr. Todd seemed to be able to live without food somehow, so surely he could wait.

When she was eating, she noticed that her living room looked rather boring and depressing. Flowers, she thought. That was what she needed.

Without bothering to clean up the plate she had used when she was done, she picked up a long forgotten basket from a cupboard and hastily left the building.

Outside, she had to blink because of the brightness of the sun. When her eyes were used to the intense light, she smiled happily. Even Fleet Street didn't look depressing anymore, not during the first day of spring. But she wouldn't find flowers here, not after a thousand summer days, so she headed towards the richer part of town, where the most beautiful flowers could be found in the parks. Wonderful flowers, wild and free, exactly the way Mrs. Lovett liked things.

Church bells told her it was only eight o'clock, and explained why there was hardly anyone outside, especially not in the better part of town which she reached soon. She sang cheerfully, forgetting her duties and sorrows while she enjoyed the sudden peace around her.

She entered the first park she spotted. After walking through the impressive iron gate, it felt like she was in a different world. The stench, which never left the streets, was hardly noticeablehere, and the dull brown and gray of the buildings and streets couldn't be seen. There were only plants and trees, zooming bees and a few singing birds, celebrating spring's arrival in their own way.

She knew she wasn't supposed to do it, but there was no one who saw her anyway, and besides, those flowers belonged to no one, and there was nobody who would miss them if she picked a few. So that's what she did, filling the basket with flowers, imagining how wonderful they would be in her living room, or in the barber shop: even Sweeney Todd's mood would brighten if he saw and smelled those flowers, the first ones blooming in spring

She wandered through the park, singing and picking, feeling happier than she had for quite some time.

Suddenly, the flowerbeds came to an end and the path lead to a small playground. While heading to the trail on the other side, her eyes fell on the swings in the playground. She remembered how she had enjoyed swinging when she had been an infant. She never had many opportunities to play and she didn't really remember happy moments from her childhood, except for those rare occasions she had been in the playground near her house where she had been soaring through the air, pretending she could fly.

There was something unexplainable in the atmosphere that made her even more impulsive than usual. She couldn't suppress the sudden urge to feel again what it was like to be so close to the air and experience the wonderful feeling in her belly when she would go up and down and back so fast.

Without thinking twice she placed the basket of flowers on a bench and almost ran to the swing. She grasped the chains firmly and arranged her dress so it wouldn't bother her too much. It was probably very improper, but she didn't care. On this special morning she wanted to feel again those sensations she remembered from her childhood.

She took a deep breath while she pushed back on the ground and swung backwards, then forwards, and backwards again. Her body remembered the movements immediately, and before she knew it, she was going through the air like it hadn't been thirty years ago when she had done so for the last time.

She closed her eyes, enjoying the wind in her hair, and her wildly fluttering dress. She stretched her limbs as far as she could, wanting to go faster and higher, just like when she had only been a little girl.

The wooden frame squeaked dangerously, but with the arrogance of youth she was sure it could handle her weight.

When she couldn't go any higher anymore, she opened her eyes and sat perfectly still on the seat, watching the landscape that flashed around her.

Suddenly she had the weirdest desire: she used to jump from the swing at full speed, totally free for one second, before landing on both feet again.

The adrenaline rushed through her body when she remembered it, and she was sure of one thing: she wanted to experience it again, just to find out if she still could do it. Before she could consider the risks and the foolishness of her planshe released the chains from her grasp and leaped off of the seat at full force.

For a nanosecond it was just perfect. It felt like flying, exactly like she remembered.

But halfway she lost her balance , maybe because of the dress, which hasn't been so big and heavy when she was younger.

Her arms moved frantically and she silently screamed. There was nothing to prevent her form crashing on the ground, so she would tear her skin and break her bones. Nothing, except for…

Her eyes registered a familiar person on the ground: Sweeney Todd himself, watching her, expressionless.

However, just before she hit the ground, he ran forward, towards her, and spread his arms to break her fall.

Because of the speed, she had to wrap her arms around his neck, and to prevent them from falling he had to hold her tight against him.

Before she was recovered from the fear and shock of almost falling, and then being so close to him, he abruptly removed himself from her embrace.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?" he snapped at her.

"I was just…"

She looked at him. To her surprise there was no anger or hate in his eyes, just worry.

"I'm sorry," she muttered. "I wanted to feel again what it was like to…"
Her speech faltered when she saw him watching the swings, sadness written on his face again.

"What's wrong?" she asked quietly.

"Nothing," he replied after a few seconds. "It's just… I just remember suddenly how it was to…"

He didn't have to finish his sentence, she knew what he was trying to say. Of course. Sweeney Todd had been young once too, and Benjamin Barker might have liked swinging the same way as she did.

"Thank you," she mumbled, staring to the ground. "I would've been hurt badly if you hadn't been there to rescue me."

"Just never be so silly again. You're a grown woman, not a child."

She decided to ignore his last remark.

"How did you find me?" she asked instead.

"There aren't many women who wander through a park at this hour, singing loudly about sun and daffodils."

This didn't answer her question at all, but well, she was used to it. That poor man had probably been walking through London for hours, finding her accidentally... well, the latter was only a guess, of course.

He eyed the flowers in the basket, which was still on the bench.

"Those have to be put in a vase before they dry out."

She could only nod at his statement.

"I'll take them home, and I'll put a few in your shop too. I'm sure they'll brighten up the room. You need some cheerfulness too every once in a while."

He merely shrugged and without saying one more word he left. She followed him after she had picked up the basket.

The unexpected and relatively intimate moment was clearly over. Despite the weather and the happiness of his companion, Sweeney Todd was his own brooding and silent self again.

Yet, Mrs. Lovett smiled. Now she was sure of one thing: he would catch her if she fell. And to her that meant more than all the swings, sunlight and flowers in the world.