Man, am I on a roll or what? Motivation has reached its peak! More power! MUAHAHAHAHA!
"Jeffrey Hawkinson…University of Northampton…Doctorate of Philosophy…Dance…Sunday, June fourteenth in the year of nineteen fifty-nine…"
Those words captured in a prestigious manner on a paper topped with the University's crest now hung in a brand new wooden frame on the hallway walls along with the performing arts memorabilia of the Hawkinsons. The family beamed with pride for a member to achieve such an honor. Jeffrey beamed with pleasure that he made his father extremely proud. Tired and overwhelmed from the big day, he reclined on his bed against the wall, carefully spinning the little box containing his great-grandmother's ring. Every time he opened that snug little case to see the bejeweled band, his heart became heavy.
"Anything wrong, son?" A voice asked out of nowhere all of a sudden.
"Oh…hello, Dad." Jeffrey smiled nervously, setting down the box. "Everything's good." The shaking grin immediately died when he saw the rare sparkle coming from the middle-aged man's blue eyes. Mildred had always been her father's daughter, Jeffrey bonded best with his mum, and Amelia, well, she bounced between her parents and siblings. Even if it would only be once, it felt wonderful to be the apple of his father's eye.
"What's that there in your hand? May I have a look?"
"Of course, Dad." Mr. Hawkinson sat himself down next to his son. Without the little paper, he could recognize the box.
"Grandmum Hawkinson's ring?" He light-heartedly chuckled, assuring an again smiling nervously Jeffrey that he wasn't busted. "Mildred's almost a complete repeat of her. I'm sure you would've liked her; quite the amazing woman." The nervous smile turned to a sad one when the lid popped open again. "Are you sure nothing's wrong?"
There was no point in lying to that guy because he could sense a lie almost like a dog with a scent, so he responded, "I didn't see her?"
The graduate nodded. "She promised to meet me there…and she's leaving tomorrow…"
"I'm sorry, Jeffrey." Mr. Hawkinson looked at his watch, his expression signaling it was a late hour. "Good night." His father gave him a one-armed hug and turned out the hallway light before retiring in his bedroom with his wife. A small but steady beating began to pelt the window panes as rain began to pour down.
Yes…leaving tomorrow…He thought glumly, exchanging his slacks for a pair of pajama pants. He turned out the light and threw the blankets over him. But he couldn't sleep.
I don't want her to go…but if she desires to return to America, then…then I'll let her go…and I'll go on with life.
Every piece of their belongings, from beds to blouses, was packed away in trunks and boxes. The only things standing in the vacant house were the three Campbells and one suitcase each. The family sat on the sans-chair porch, sheltered from the pouring rain.
"So you saw Jeff?" Mr. Campbell asked.
"Yes," Charlotte said solemnly.
"And how was he?" Mrs. Campbell asked.
"He seemed very happy. We said good-bye there too."
In a way, yes, the graduate and immigrant bade farewell. Amongst the crazy ecstatic crowd, loud with cheers and chatter, it was difficult for her to catch his attention. For thirty minutes, she called his name and tried to reach him. Due to the hundreds of people crowded together like passengers on a New York subway, the closest she could get was ten feet. Finally losing hope, she returned home late that night, broken-hearted and burdened. She spoke nothing of it, disguising her grief with the sorrow of parting with her life here.
"The bus should be here soon." The American looked at his watch. "Really soon." A minute after he said that, a bus pulled around the corner and slowed down at the bus stop.
"Well, ladies," Herb began in an announcer-like voice as he, his wife, and daughter grabbed their baggage and prepared to get on the bus. "Say good-bye to the old Campbell mansion."
"Charlotte!" A faint yet familiar voice called from down the street. "Charlotte, wait!" She opened the door, turned around, and slightly jumped back in surprise as seeing a face she least expected to see.
In this nasty weather with no coat and only an open black umbrella held over his head, Jeffrey dashed down the sopping sidewalks towards the bus stop. An exhilarating joy was ignored in her mind but lightly continued on as the bitterness and anger of last night's disappointment raged inside her.
The university graduate continued racing on. Charlotte shook her head and leaned from the steps. She was about to climb in when she heard, "Charlooo-aauugghhh!" and a loud pop-crack along with a moderate thud. She jumped off the steps and turned around to see Jeffrey on the sidewalk cobblestone, biting his lower lip in pain and trying not to cry out.
Herb and Jane jumped out of the bus as well and ran toward the injured young man. Charlotte followed her parents, her eyes wide in concern and shock. He came the ten miles in this weather for her?
"Lottie, help me out here!" Herb called out. Lifting Jeffrey up by the arms, the father and daughter helped him to the shaded front porch of the recently vacated house, Mrs. Campbell coaching as a nurse to the paramedic team. However, the heavy drops from the roof fell on their head and shoulders, and Charlotte retrieved the forsaken umbrella from the sidewalk.
"You alright?" Charlotte asked, holding up the umbrella over their heads.
"I'm fine." Jeffrey replied.
Mrs. Campbell felt around the swollen ankle. "I think you've sprained your ankle. No breaks or fractures." She looked up at her husband. "Love, the bus."
"We can catch another one in a few minutes." Mr. Campbell assured.
The pain in his ankle decreasing, Jeffrey spoke up."Mr. Campbell, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to have a word with your daughter." The middle-aged man nodded and took the umbrella as a shelter for him and his wife to be on the lookout for another bus.
"What do you want?" Charlotte asked, still hurt by last night. Jeffrey blinked. He had never heard her speak to him like that.
"I want to say is that I didn't see you last night."
"I was there last night right within a good range too."
"You were? I looked everywhere for you."
"I kept on calling you from at the most ten feet, and you didn't even turn around."
"I'm sorry. I really am. I really did try, Charlotte."
"I understand." Her eyes turned toward the streets for any sign.
"Charlotte, whether you forgive me or not, what I really wanted to say in the first place was what I wanted to tell you last night once I found you. I wanted to ask you something." The young man gulped nervously. "Wi...will you marry me?"
Charlotte's eyes grew wide, and her heart dropped as almost did her mouth. She turned her face towards his.
"Charlotte, please listen. I'm not doing this because I'm desperate. Out of all the people in my dance classes, you have been the most influential. Not Bernadette Marks or Mary Rogers or any of the people who continued onto the Ph.D. courses. You've shown me that the American people aren't all a brassy, rude race. Out of anyone I know, I couldn't think of one person to give the privilege of—"
His heart sank; he really did it now. She was bent over with fingers pressing against her scalp and hair falling into her lap, hiding her expression.
"All I can really, really say now is," He stuttered, "no matter what comes between us, I will love you…always. I wish you the happiness of the world. Even if we never see each other again, I'll never forget you. I could never forget you," All hope was lost now as leaned against the porch step to get up.
Charlotte looked up and brushed away a few blond locks from her face. She took his hand before he could leave. He turned around apprehensively.
"More than anything else," She began before letting out a laugh. "I love you, Jeff, and yes, I forgive you. And sit yourself back down."
"Bus!" Mr. Campbell called.
"This is it?" Jeffrey asked.
"This is it." Charlotte answered. "But we're taking you home first. Besides we have to get past Watford to get to London."
The Campbells loaded the three suitcases and the temporary invalid into the bus.
"I almost forgot something." Jeffrey said once the bus hit the city limits of Watford. "He pulled the small box out of the pocket. "Madam,…" She offered him her left hand. He gently held it as he slipped the ring onto her ring finger.
Once arriving at the Hawkinson household, Mr. Campbell and Charlotte helped Jeffrey up the steps and knocked on the door. Mrs. Hawkinson opened the door.
"Goodness!" She exclaimed looking down at her son's ankle. "Let's get you inside." She turned to the Campbells after she helped them settle Jeffrey on the parlor sofa. "Thank you so much."
"Did he do it?" A voice called from upstairs.
"Look who's home." Mrs. Hawkinson said, smiled yet a little embarrassed.
"You're welcome, ma'am." Mr. Campbell nodded. "I wish Charlotte could stay longer, but we're running a little behind. So, I'm saying good-bye. I guess we'll see you again about a month before the wedding day."
"Thanks for everything." Charlotte hugged her mother-in-law-to-be goodbye. She turned to her fiancé and kissed him on the cheek. "Heal up soon, okay?"
"Alright. We'll save the real kisses for the day. Farewell, love." Jeffrey hugged her farewell and Mrs. Hawkinson saw them through the front door and on their way home.
"You did it!" Amelia cheered, running down the stairs with an armload of books from his room. She dropped them on the coffee table next to him, some falling off the sides with a loud thump!. "Let's see how you like it now. Oh glory, I can't believe you did it!
"Strangers in the niiiiigghhht,
"Wanderin' in the niiiiigghhht,
"What were the chances,
"We'd be sharin' looovve,
"Before the night was throooouuuuggghhhh?"
The obnoxious serenading echoed through the house as well as the exaggerated waltzing, making it hard for her brother to concentrate on one of his scientific books and her mother to focus on cooking a casserole.
"Tell me, Amelia. Do things ever change?" He finally asked, feeling ready to tear apart the book.
"…We've been togetherrr,
"Lovers at first si-hight,
"In love foreverrr,
"It turned out so riiiigghht,"
She turned to him with a smug devilish smile on her lips. "No."
"For strangers iiinnn the niiiiiigggggghhhhht."
I can't believe I made it this far! (screams and does happy dance) I've got some writer's block to conquer for my other stories, so it may take a while before this gets updated again.