Disclaimer: Persuasion and all of it's characters and story lines belong to the lovely Ms. Jane Austen.
Author's Note: Why hello there! This is an idea I've had in my head for a little while, so I just decided to let it out and see what happens. It's the big rejection of Frederick by Anne before Persuasion starts and I've set it in more modern times as part of a modern version of Persuasion I've been toying with.
This is pretty much the first thing I've ever written and while constructive feedback is welcome please be gentle, I have a fragile ego.
Ever had your heart broken? You most likely have, almost everyone's gone through the painful, devastating experience at least once. Everyone except for those lucky few who managed to find that perfect someone straight out of the gate, that is. God I hate them, I just want to smack them in their stupid smug faces. Yeah... You can probably tell that I'm not one of the few. No I, Anne Emily Elliot, am firmly situated amongst the ranks of the broken hearted.
There are some who will tell you that no one's died of a broken heart and that a bit of misfortune in love builds character. I'll give them the first point, purely for the reason that I've never heard of someone's cause of death being ruled as 'heartbreak', but I can think of several people who would find that 'builds character' stuff to be utter bullshit – me being one of them. I'm the same person I was before, only now I'm a more depressed, antisocial version of Anne Elliot. So yeah, so much for that. But that's not all, there's another cliché us poor broken hearted souls are subjected to: time heals all wounds. I'm calling bullshit on that too, because four years on and that wound still hurts like a bitch.
It's typical of my luck in life that the one thing I have the clearest recollection of is the one thing I want to forget and move on from. See, once upon a time I had someone who loved me. Someone who thought I was clever and funny and pretty and actually cared about what I thought and felt. Rick Wentworth was a god among men who for some inexplicable reason decided that I was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and I, like the insecure moron that I am, totally freaked the fuck out and screwed everything up. In my defence though, the thought of marriage is a pretty scary thing to contemplate when you've only just turned 20. I'm an incredibly rational person though, so instead of making a rash choice that could potentially be a disaster; I told Rick that I needed to think about it. It took me a whole day to realise I was in over my head, so I turned to the closest thing I had to a mother, my god-mother Dianna, for guidance. The advice that Dee gave me wasn't favourable and was delivered in a condescending way, but ultimately I could see she was right. Rick and I were just too young and inexperienced in life to make such a big commitment. Now I just had to make him see that.
The day we meet in our favourite park was gloomy and wet. That right there should have been a big warning sign to me of how this was going to go; I mean have you ever seen a movie where bad news was delivered on a day with shitty weather and it going well? Me either. I was so focused on what I was going to say that I didn't notice the overall atmosphere of the day – rookie mistake. I had everything I had to say planned out, so I could calmly and logically explain why getting married now wouldn't be such a great idea. It started off pretty well, I thought. He was quiet so I was able to start off my explanation, but then I made my second mistake – I looked at his face. I had never understood before how it was possible for a person to have more than one expression on their face at a time, but as I looked at Rick I could see the heartbreak and anger mixed together. And as I watched his face (his beautiful, beautiful face), I saw the anger take over.
"So that's it, that's why you don't want to marry me? Because we're not 'experienced' enough? What the fuck does that even mean?" He glares at me while saying this.
"I just think that maybe we need to go out and get a few life experiences under our belt like graduating from college and getting a real grown up job, or maybe doing some travelling. And then we could talk about this again in a few years?" I say this last part tentatively, hoping Rick will catch the meaning of my words – just because I don't want to get married now doesn't mean I don't want to be with you.
"Life experiences? We could have those together once we're married! What the hell does that have to do with committing to spending our lives together?" Agitated, he stands up from the bench we were sitting on and begins to pace.
I try to explain to him what I meant the best I could. "Our experiences help form who we are and want we want out of life. You can never predict who you're going to be. What happens if in 5, 10 years time it turns out that we're two very different people and getting married so young was a huge mistake?"
Rick went very still and quietly said "I don't care who I turn out to be, I would never think marrying you was a mistake. Not even for a minute. Because I know that I will love you as much as I do now." He snorts in disbelief "And here I was thinking you felt the same way. What a dickhead."
"Of course I love you!" I don't know how he could even doubt that, so I try to erase that thought from his mind. I jump up and grab his hands to try and make sure he understands that I wholeheartedly mean what it is I'm saying. "Rick, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me and the most important person in my life! Don't doubt that."
My response seemed to give him a surge of hope. He became excited and carried away. "You had me worried there for a minute." He gives me a rueful grin before sobering up. "But then I don't see the problem. You love me; I love you, so let's show everyone else. If you're worried about being the centre of attention we can just go down to the courthouse and see a justice of the peace."
"No, it's not that." Sighing I sit back down and go about trying to dissuade him from this idea. "Doing that makes it seem like we're sneaking off or something, besides my dad would be pissed. Really pissed. And you know him, he'd hate to miss out on throwing a huge wedding."
Scoffing, Rick says "Oh please Anne, like your father would give a flying fuck about whether or not he was there at your wedding." Ouch. His assessment's accurate, but still, that was harsh. "This is for us, not some excuse for him to throw a party."
While I can understand Rick's point, his verbal bashing of my dad's character was getting on my nerves, so I was a little terse with my reply. "Well when I eventually get married I want my family there. They may not be the perfect family I've always wanted, but they're what I have and I love them anyway." I was concentrating on trying to calm myself down I didn't even notice Rick come over and stand directly in front of me.
In a cold voice I heard him ask, "Eventually?" and I swear, I felt the temperature drop about 10 degrees. In a tight, angry voice he continues. "So you're still saying no."
Meekly, I tell him that yes, despite my professions of love my answer remains the same. I just didn't think we were ready. Stupidly I mention that Dee feels the same way. This was the third mistake I made, and it was the biggest by far.
For a moment Rick just stares at me in disbelief before throwing his arms in the air. "You're taking advice from Dianna fucking Russell? That woman's had it out for me ever since you told her were dating!" His voice gets louder and louder until he's all but screaming at me. "Jesus Christ Anne! Of course she was going to fucking tell you we shouldn't get married! She doesn't think I'm good enough for you! No one in your family does!" Shaking his head he walks over to a nearby tree and punches it before leaning against it, as if his anger is leaving him drained of his energy.
I don't deal well with confrontation, so by this point the tears start flowing pretty freely. I walk over to Rick and place a comforting hand on his back, which he shrugs off. "Oh Rick, that's not true. She's never once said that! Besides, she just suggested we hold off for a few years, not that we never get married,"
This is the point where Rick goes from being merely angry to absolutely livid. "For fuck's sake, open your eyes! She wants us to hold off because she's hoping you'll come to your fucking senses and leave me. Why can't you see that? I bet she's mentioned a couple of hundred times the fact that I'm just a lowly peasant from a middle class background and that you could do so much better."
With all the yelling and crying and swearing, I was starting to get flustered – I told you, I don't deal with confrontation well. At all. "What? No! Well, yes... I mean, she did mention that you weren't really in a financially stable place right now and that the discrepancy in our income would put a strain on our relationship."
"I knew it. I fucking knew it. Income my ass, she meant your allowance from Daddy." He gave me a hard look and said "You didn't even correct her did you?" I just looked down at my feet; I knew he would see the guilt on my face. "Wow. I shouldn't really be surprised. The rest of your family thinks they're better than me, it looks like you're just better at hiding it." I hear him sigh deeply and look up. And there on his face I see something that haunts me, a look of pure disgust and hatred marring his perfect features. "I thought you were different Anne, but it looks like I was wrong. Maybe I don't really know you at all."
Desperation takes a hold of me as I try to stop things from spinning so dangerously out of control. "I am different! Of course I don't look down on you Rick." He's starting to slip away from me, I can feel it happening. I grab on to the front of his jacket to keep him with me. "Please I love –"
"Stop it!" He wrenches away from my grasp. "Just stop it. I don't want to hear any more of your lies. You're obviously not the person I thought you were. So I tell you what, why don't we forget this whole sorry affair happened and you go your way and I'll go my way."
Suddenly I feel as though I can't breathe and I'm crying so hard I can barely see. "No Rick, please! Just –"
"Save it. I don't want to hear it. As far as I'm concerned, if I never hear from or see you again, I could die happy. Goodbye Anne."
Hearing him say that didn't just break my heart, it shattered it. Watching him walk away and ignore my cries for him to come back, to talk to me, to just let me explain, well that pretty much ground those tiny pieces into dust and caused me more pain than I ever imagined it could. In shock I watched the man I loved storm off. I didn't understand how it could have all gone so wrong, I had a plan – I was going to make him see how reckless it would have been to get married this young.
After sitting on the bench for what felt like hours I somehow made my way home, looking like a complete mess judging by the looks of pity I was receiving from the general public. During the half an hour it took me to walk back, one thought went around and around in my head on an endless loop – 'Oh God, what did I just do?'
Once I was safely back in my apartment I did what any sane woman who has been through this would do; I put on sad, sappy love songs, downed a bottle of Chardonnay, curled up in the foetal position and cried. I kept replaying the afternoon through my head trying to determine the exact moment everything went to hell. What did I say to screw it all up? What could I have done or said differently? How could I go back in time and fix this?
I don't know if it was the wine, or if I really am just that delusional, but I managed to convince myself that it would all turn out ok. That despite the fact that Rick felt as though I had ripped out his heart, despite him being apocalyptically furious and that he blatantly told me to my face that he never wanted to see or hear from me again, everything would turn out hunky dory. I genuinely believed that he would calm down, see that I was right and we would go back to the way we had been before our 'tiff' this afternoon. I mean, we were in love after all. And not just any kind of love, it was the all encompassing kind that you usually only read about. So ok, he was pissed... like super pissed but I was so sure that over the next few days he'd think on it and calm down, see that I was right about the whole 'being too young to get married and not ready for that kind of commitment and pressure' thing and he'd give me a call. After making sure he was aware of just how I hurt I was by what he said I would, naturally, forgive him. Because our love was too strong to let some insecurities and nasty words destroy it. Or at least that's what I told myself.
What a naive idiot I was.