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The village was bigger than I expected, I didn't really know what to expect but it wasn't this. The place in front of me was more like a small town's high street, not as chaotic and metropolitan as London but still busy.
On either side of a wide road were old shops, clearly they had been there for quite some time, small canopy's of stripped red and white shielded the window of the butches, a similar one but in green signalled that a few doors down was the green grocers.
Esme pointed excitedly at the shops. This one next to us was owned by her sister until she moved away but it was still a Bakery, apparently the bread is not as good as it used to be.
It smelled delicious to me.
People with smiles past us as we walked along the brown stabbed path. Some said good morning and others just smiled.
Smiling seemed to be standard etiquette here.
However the curious glances cast my way were too hard to ignore.
"Don't worry Bella; they haven't seen someone they are not related to in this village for a while. They are going to get a shock as soon as you speak!" her kind words didn't ease the discomfort I was feeling though.
Eventually I was steered into a dress shop.
Inside was like noting I don't think I have seen before.
There were no grand ball gowns like those in the old books or in paintings. What was displayed were beautiful in their own right.
Arranged in the window were three day dresses. One was a light pink like cotton candy cotton dress, its pleated skirt was knee length and A-line in shape, it was shirt dress with buttons down the front and a white belt around the middle. Next to it was a chocolate brown creation, simple in style and shape, it hugged the mannequin slightly but its sleeves were flared and floaty in their cotton lawn fabric.
But my favourite was the midnight blue one at the end. It too was a simple shirt dress, but the blue fabric was dotted with little cream daisies that matched the row of pearly white buttons down the centre. Even though it was made from cotton and was a day dress I know that if I were to wear it I would feel like royalty.
"Esme! How good to see you!" come the voice of a plump lady as she half walked half glided through the shop.
I left the two woken to talk and browsed the racks of clothing.
"She is already such a great help." I heard Esme say in a hushed voice.
"…she seems a lovely girl…" I caught her friends say.
"…It's nice to have company….rather lonely in a big house…" they were silent for a moment.
I threw them a small smile and moved onto looking at the shoes.
"…and Edward how is he faring up?"
"…it's hard to say anymore…"
"..Can't be easy after…"
The bell above the door chimed merrily announcing another customer.
"So Bella, have you seen anything you like, beside the blue dress in the window that is?" she said jokingly.
I shook my head laughing.
She placed her hands on her hips and sighed dramatically.
"Well there is nothing else for it then, you must have that dress in the window."
I wore my new dress for dinner that night, my first dinner outside of the hospital.
Esme made us pork chops and vegetables for dinner.
"I was lucky to get hold of these." She told me as she dished the steaming delights onto pristine white plates.
"Now that rationing has died down a little everyone wants pork chops for breakfast, lunch and dinner!"
I laughed along with her and then tucked into my food.
"Have you lived here all your life?" I asked her.
She shook her head "No, this is my husband's house, I moved in here with him when we married." She said and looked around the dining room with a nostalgic smile on her face.
I too looked at the room's expanse, large white fireplace adorned with picture frames and little trinkets, all holding a story and a past.
A large mahogany grandfather clock stood in the corner counting down the minuets till tomorrow.
It all felt too lonely to me, like the people had risen from these empty chairs and had simply walked away.
"It's a beautiful house." I commented.
She nodded in agreement "My husband's family had an eye for decor; however I am pleased to say that I have left my own mark on the place." She chuckled.
I wanted to ask her if anyone else lived here or had but I realised that perhaps this is one of those houses with an empty place, the chairs around this table certainly point to it.
"It can be rather lonely in this house" she said.
"You have your son." I couldn't help but say. Esme gave me a sad smile.
"Yes I do have my Edward."
I decided to bite the bullet "What about your husband?"
Besides the best way to find things out is to ask them isn't it?
She wasn't taken aback or surprised by my question; rather I think she was expecting it.
"He is a very important man, you see, so he is away a lot in London, government work is very time consuming." It felt like her words were recorded somehow, or she was reading from a script.
I just nodded although her words unsettled me.
When I was in the hospital I heard every excuse under the sun about why husbands couldn't come and visit. Business trips that took them away, visiting a relative that was ill, all very plausible but piteously unbelievable.
Still I won't judge this kind lady, it's not my place and it would be wrong on many levels to do so.
"And now I don't mind his being away, I have you to keep me company." She reached and squeezed my hand; I squeezed back showing my gratitude.
She had divulged so much to me, a mere battered anonymous Londoner.
"I don't know about my family." I said that hollow feeling came back like I knew it would. But I could bare it, it is only fair.
"I am called Isabella Swan but I have no family on the books or registers in London, not that I would recognise them if I did."
Esme looked at my sympathetically.
"Sister Cope told me you had been in a coma and have amnesia, you poor thing." She sounded on the verge of tears.
"Don't be upset for me, if I can't remember what happened to me during the war then perhaps that is a good thing."
"Yes perhaps it is." Was all she said, a thousand different emptions playing out on her kind face.
Thank you for reading! More soon. Xxx