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   Chapter 18 What Dreams May Come!

Broken Past By Arathi Characters: 13061

Updated: 2018-09-04 09:19


I look at my reflection in the mirror and admire my dress. It was a pale blue with a sprinkle of lace on the bodice, neckline, and cuffs. A bright but darker blue ribbon wound up from the hem of my skirt to my waist. The puffed sleeves added width to my frame compensating for my lack of hourglass figure.

The dress was simple yet elegant. It hadn't bleached in the harsh Indian sun despite the numerous times the help had washed and dried it for me. Yes, it was my favorite dress, and I was guilty of wearing it frequently, of that, I will admit.

Living far from London meant that I didn't have to keep up with the latest fashion. After all who in their right mind would tailor a dress for weeks, then wait for weeks more for it to ship to India, and then wait to get paid?

I had seen the latest fashion change, or so I thought. The new genteel ladies that arrived at the cantonment on the arms of their soldier husbands sported lovely dresses with bright splashes of color, ribbons, and lace to match, fancy hats with feathers, and dainty parasols. The favored whalebone hooped petticoat that spread out at least a foot around these women's waists made them look like they had unnaturally narrow waists and elephant-like hips – nope nothing had changed there either. What had changed, however, were the subtle things, from sleeves that fell to the wrists to those that stopped above the elbow. Layered skirts and thinner waists along with tighter bodices were also perfectly acceptable. The spotless white powdered face was also becoming obsolete. The most scandalous change, perhaps, was the lack of lace that came all the way up to the chin. No longer preferred, women showed skin right down to the tops of their breasts.

I chuckle to myself as I imagine these tender women learning to live the Indian way. The thought of them fainting in the heat did give me a certain amount of guilty pleasure.

Mama had often said I mustn't think like that. But I couldn't help myself. I hadn't been to London in almost five years, and perhaps, just perhaps, I was the teeniest bit envious. I did miss my home. But there was such freedom in India that I loved living here.

A lot of the harshness and judgment that existed in London didn't occur here. The societal structure was immensely different as the old bats, as I called them, were not here to dictate how things must be. I admit, I was also hurt and a little bitter about being forced to come to India.

You see, some five years ago, I had met the most wonderful and charming young soldier named William. After a short courtship, with our parents' consent, of course, he and I were engaged to be wed. I couldn't have been more excited. A spring wedding is what my heart desired, and wonderful William was only too happy to agree.

When I should have been dreaming about wedding and bridesmaid dresses, and flower arrangements and sending my father to speak with the Parish Priest about a date for my church wedding, I was instead, spending my time frightened to bits.

As fate would have it, a nasty war was being predicted, and the country called on all her soldiers, young and old, married and not. And so it came to be that my William was required to place his duties above his to-be family. The wedding was postponed indefinitely, and I was a horrid mess.

My mind played cruel tricks on me nightly. I often imagined my William sprawled on the battlefield, his essence pouring out of him. Afraid of losing my whole world, I found myself slipping out the night before his departure. I needed to see him one more time and not in the company of old bats.

And so that Saturday, I ran across the street and slipped between the fences and snuck into the narrow alley. I lifted my skirts to avoid the London filth from ruining my pale blue dress and picked my way across to William's house.

It must have been fate for as I rounded the corner,

it. I dig around the many tin boxes littering the shelf until I find the coffee container. Putting two scoops in my mug with sugar, I wait for the water to heat. I missed my electric kettle. Perhaps I could ask JT to fetch it for me?

No, no absolutely not. Never in a million years, my mind screamed at me, and I sighed in agreement. After what he did and how I behaved? There was just no way I could face him again, let alone ask for a favor.

Seriously, he had a girl and he led me on and I, ashamedly, fell for his charm. And if that wasn't bad enough, I draped myself all over him! I shook my head, chiding myself for the millionth time.

When the water was hot enough, I poured two teaspoons into my cup and beat the mixture into a creamy paste. All of my doubts, my anger, and my frustration was being directed at my coffee. My mind, of course, cannot stay blank for more than a minute. I had to re-analyze the dream I just woke up from. I just had to figure out what it meant!

I laughed uncomfortably at the direction my thoughts were taking. I had had a dream about god only knows who and it featured JT. It was that simple. There was nothing supernatural there. I was introducing the paranormal to give the dream more meaning than necessary. What was it that dream decoders often said? Ah yes, the distress a person feels in life is often projected in their dreams.

It had been two days since my last encounter with JT, the one you know… where I made an utter fool of myself by giving in so easily to a man whom I practically knew nothing about. Since then he had called numerous times, texted and even dropped by. I refused to speak with him, read his messages or meet with him.

Still embarrassed and bitter and yes, heartbroken – all those feelings were coming out in the dream. My dreams were related to my feelings, the events, however, were unreal. Yes, that had to be it!

For a moment I wondered if I would ever get over my embarrassment. Would I ever forgive myself or even JT for that matter? I groaned. Round and round and back to square one! There is no more JT. That chapter in my life is closed. He's spoken for, and I'm not a side chick. That's it! There will be no more reminiscing on what was or could have been. It was time for me to scold my mind into behaving!

It's just a dream, only a dream. I repeated in my head.

"Are you certain, my dear?"

The voice caught me by surprise, and I whirled around, dropping my mug and shattering it beyond repair.

There, standing in the doorway, was a person I had never seen before. But her voice was so familiar!

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