What started as a simple Microfiction Challenge became a story that had more layers to tell. Thank you to everyone who has followed me from the beginning as well as those who discovered it midway through. There is one more chapter to tell. I give you Seasoning, the Epilogue. Read the rest of the story HERE.
It had been months since Helen boarded a train leaving Hannah and Henry with her blessing. Seeing her brother so happy made her happy. “What a lovely young woman she is,” Helen had thought as she waved goodbye through her cabin window. “They will be fine,” she smiled contentedly.
As the train pulled away from the depot, Hannah had slipped her hand into Henry’s. “This is really happening, isn’t it?”
Henry squeezed her hand and smiled, “Yes it is Hannah. Is it too soon to tell you that I love you?”
Hannah blushed, “No Henry. I love you too. What do we do now?”
“We live Hannah. We get to know one another. We embrace each day and we care for each other. Does that sound alright to you?”
“Yes Henry. It sounds wonderful to me.
Winter seasoned into spring. Hannah spent every free moment in the garden. She hired carpenters to build several arbors, one at the entrance and a bench arbor in the middle of the garden. A slate stone walkway meandered throughout bordered by herbs; sweet basil, parsley, dill, anise and lavender. Beds of fragrant plumeria, freesia, lilacs and lilies, and amaranth, sweet peas and zinnias dotted the space. Climbing rose bushes clung to the arbors and wisteria hung gracefully from the iron fence that surrounded the garden. Trees flanked the far edge; apple, pear and dogwood. As a final touch Hannah added several bird baths and decorative pottery.
Spring crept toward summer. The garden erupted into beautiful blooms. Hannah and Henry’s love for each other blossomed as well. They spent hours together. Henry’s heart, once shut down and broken, opened in ways he never imagined possible. Laughter and life had returned to the once dusty dark halls of Chamber House.
Hannah’s parents George and Elizabeth came to town to meet this man who had captured their daughter’s heart. Like Helen, they recognized the bond between the two immediately. They loved seeing her daughter so happy. George was especially impressed with Henry and the way he treated his only daughter. They had concerns though. It was not proper for them to be living in the same house feeling as they did for one another.
After lunch, Henry asked George if he could have a private word.
“I am so happy to finally meet you and your lovely wife, sir,” Henry smiled, “I believe Hannah has told you about us.”
“She mentioned it,” George nodded skeptically. “Tell me young man, what are your intentions?”
Henry sat up straight, “Sir, I love Hannah very much. I would like to ask you for her hand in marriage. I promise I will care for her for as long as I live. She will never want for anything, sir.”
George sensed that Henry was sincere. With a tear in his eye he spoke softly, “Son, I’ve never seen my Hannah so happy. I do believe you love her. Of course you have my blessing. Take care of her.”
“I will sir. Thank you sir!”
They rejoined Hannah and Elizabeth in the parlor. George winked at his wife and smiled. Immediately she understood.
With her parents as his witnesses, Henry bent down on one knee in front of Hannah, “I can think of no better time than while your parents are here…Hannah, I have a question to ask you.”
Hannah shot a glance at her parents who were sitting nearby, tears in their eyes, holding each other’s hands. “What is this about?” She asked, looking at them, then back at Henry, who had reached for her hand.
“Let Henry finish,” Elizabeth said, smiling assuredly at her daughter.
Henry continued, “Hannah, I feel as though I have been searching for you for an eternity. When you came here I was a broken man. I still can’t believe you stayed after those first days. I was such a beast. Eventually though, I came to see you for the beautiful woman that you are. Now I can’t imagine life without you. I love you Hannah. Be my wife and make me the happiest man in the world.”
Hannah’s eyes narrowed mischievously, “You were a beast! Absolutely incorrigible!” she frowned.
Henry blinked, holding his breath, hoping.
Hannah grinned, “Of course I will marry you!” she gushed, “I love you Henry, with all my heart and soul. Nothing would make me happier than to be your wife!”
They embraced, completely oblivious that Hannah’s parents were still in the room. George conspicuously cleared his throat reminding them. The four broke into happy laughter.
“Well, it looks as though we have a wedding to plan,” Elizabeth announced.
And what a wedding it was! Set in the garden while it was still in bloom, Henry and Hannah vowed their love and devotion to one another in the presence of family and friends.
Theirs was a love that had spanned lifetimes. They had suffered a bitter ending once, a lifetime ago, that had left them with unfinished hopes and dreams. But this day the fates had smiled upon them. This day, they embarked on the next chapter of their lives, together at last.