I cannot deny: today was the worst day of my life. It sounds melodramatic to say it, but I feel I have earned the right. True, when I awoke this morning I felt a glimmer of hope, hanging out of my window and listening to the chatter of birds underneath the sill, but now, nothing. After hours of waiting for them, I feel that I would not be any the worse if I just rolled over and died.
Honestly- how dare they leave like this? Try as I might to fight them off, I feel angry, burning tears creeping their way into my eyes. For the umpteenth time that day I just let the fall, bitterly crying. Their two, beloved faces swim into my mind, faces that usually inspire comfort and love, and all I feel is anger. How darefather leave me like this, with no goodbye, no explanation? And how could Marius, after using those chilling, promising words with me that last night in the rue Plumet, simply nor come back for me? He promised he would come back!
I feel something ghost over my face, and my hand reaches up, fingers resting on my lips. Marius had kissed those lips not four nights ago- something unexpected and natural. I knew it had been right, no matter how wrong it was. But that was the last time I had seen him.
When I think on it, it seems odd. It was not like Marius to simply break a promise. And though Papa had his old eccentricities, he certainly would not just up and leave... Something was strange today, that was obvious.
I feel my heart turn to ice as Toussaint's words from the morning shuffled through my mind once again:
I hope Monsieur knows what he's getting into, going out and about today. I know he's a bit strange, but even he would not be as stupid as to walk about with all those rebels. A brave man like him, well, he's probably not afraid, Mademoiselle, but I certainly would not want a gun like that pointed in my face!
The shots had stopped an hour ago, I had counted. What I had been foolishly taken to be slamming shutters were actually gunshots. Deadly gunshots that end people's lives.
And Marius and Papa were out there, somewhere.
I had just thought idly of dying, but Marius or Papa might already be...
I shake off the thought, trying to again muster up some anger for them in order to hide the deep, encompassing fears... What if they don't come back? What if they... can't?
Come, Cosette, I tell myself. They're just being ignorant, nothing more. They just had a selfish day today, that is it. They will beg for your forgiveness later tonight! Truly. Yes. That's it. In an hour, Papa will be here, and once the clock strikes ten o'clock, I'll hear the sound of someone throwing pebbles at my window. Ha! They will expect me to be soft, kind, whisper nice things to them... well, not after they left me like this! They leave me to wait in the dust all day, going about, being men while I, a woman, am left home. Well, this will teach them: I may not be allowed out, but they shan't leave me again! When they come back, I believe that I shall turn them away. Yes, that is what I will do. They won't get a kiss, an embrace, a hand, a kind word... nothing!
Oh, my dear Lord in Heaven, let them be alright.
Truthfully, I now know that I would rather be tortured in Hell than wait in Purgatory. Waiting is so much worse- actually, waiting istorture. Today proved that. No matter how many tiny things I did to occupy my mind today, nothing worked. Needlework, packing, unpacking, and repacking, brushing my hair, reading a book... nothing spared my mind from the torture of wondering if they would be alright.
I pushed myself to hope, to see some light. Maybe Papa would not be taking me to England after all... Maybe...
Some stray thought dawns in my mind... Maybe none of this was actually wrong! Maybe it was wonderful... But no! I daren't even think it. I daren't hope, but, hadn't Marius hinted that he wanted to 'try something.' Could it be that he was out with father, this very moment...?
No, I knew. In the pit of my stomach, I know that is not true. But it is better than the alternatives, isn't it? I let myself hope for a moment, for hoping is what I am good at.
I indulge in a fantasy, a new fantasy I have: one in which Marius and my Papa are friends. Good friends, in fact, and he approves of us. We go about as we like, and when I am not in the room, I can hear the two of them laughing and talking to each other. In my fantasy, Marius and I are married- well, sometimes married, sometimes betrothed, it never really matters. But we are free to walk about in public, and we do not have to hide. But best of all, the three of us, me, Marius, and Papa, spend all of our days together, soaked in happiness and love...
Hope. I know this is not in my future, but a part of it- any part of my fantasy, I will take. I do not need everything. But there are a few key points that I know I cannot continue without.
I hope with everything I have- it is what is keeping me from going mad. These hours have had year stuffed into them. I feel like an old woman now, not a girl anymore. I know that a day is not long- after all, how long is twenty-four hours? Short, I suppose. But not this particular twenty-four hours. Someone must be lying- today was actually a week.
Slowly, I slide down from the couch and kneel on the ground, pulling my hands up into a praying position. I beg God for their safety, promising Him that, if they are safe, I shall never take anything for granted again.
I will be kind to them day in and day out, thanking God for his gift of their love. I promise that I shall do more good deeds for the poor, and that I shall take remarkable care of them. Marius and Papa, they will want for nothing if they are returned to me. I shall do everything I can to make them happy, and to make our Father, creator of the universe, pleased with me. I shall be a good Christian and obey his rules. If I have done anything in the past of upset him, please do not take it out on those dear men. Take it out on me. Let me die.
I cannot pray anymore- my voice is scratched and harsh from all of the whispers I have mumbled out today, and I sit back on the couch, fighting tears.
The clock strikes some hour, I do not know which one. It is dark out now. The shots have ceased, and it is eerily quiet. If I listen, I can hear a coach outside the apartments, a door slamming, a man's voice... Just proof that life goes on.
A key turns in the lock, and I almost feel my ears perk up, my heart leap out of my chest, a smile break across my face, a smile too big to be contained on it. All my fears wash away: Papa is home!
I hear the sound of his footsteps on the landing and up the stairs, a sound I know so well. I wait here, on the couch in the small, dingy sitting room, but it is all I can do not to run and embrace him. I hear his footsteps stop halfway up the stairs, and he lets out a sigh. It sounds like... what? Relief, or so it seems. He does not move for a long time, and I can feel his happiness and relaxation. Everything would be alright, I know. All of my hopes and prayers in the past days, and mainly in this particular day, have paid off. This is why I hope: it always works. God is good, God is forgiving and God loves.
All the agony of waiting washed away in a single moment: if Papa is safe, then Marius is safe, I know. That is how it works, isn't it?
I close my eyes when I hear Papa coming closer. When I hear him reach the landing and thus the sitting room, I open my eyes.
The sight that meets me is too much. I see him, huge and so familiar, and yet he is too different. He is covered in many things, some that I do not recognize. But his white shirt is torn and covered with something red. This I do recognize.
It is too much... My sight fades, and I am gone.
Hope you enjoy! Please, please, please review this- it doesn't take long! No matter what you think, I want to hear it.
I will be continuing this for a while- can't wait to hear your thoughts. I'll even take some suggestions- provided they are cannon, of course. But there's tons of room for growth- the next four months in the series time line are essentially empty. Let me know!