*The fourth and final story in the EDNA DOTT series. Extract from my Photography blog, Through Frog Eyes. Each month a guest photographer is featured and a short story is woven around a set of photographs. This is where photography and creative writing find a common platform. Please click on the link to read the complete story below with the full set of photographs.

Marianne opened her eyes slowly, savoring the warmth of the his breath on her shoulder, and the tightness of his embrace around her waist, even though he continued to sleep soundly. Dawn was just breaking over the ocean’s horizon and she could see the crack of light hesitantly peeking through the darkness. The lace curtains swayed gently to the morning breeze, nudging the rose petals aside. The movement reminded her of scarlet sighs somehow, a symbol of both her youth and passion, something that dissipated with each broken heart, every failed relationship, and the sound of broken dreams within her soul.

It was March 20,1944, the world was at war, and for Marianne and Jerome it had been a night full of emotions that carried them from one extreme to another, beginning with a romantic picnic on the beach at sunset. Jerome had stretched out his hand towards her hair after pouring the wine, caressing her earlobe as she served the food onto the plates. They had set aside time for each other for this weekend date weeks ago, knowing that the days and months ahead would be turbulent. The beach had always been a special place where they felt at home, a source of strength and peace, and the one spot their souls always knew the waters would lead the way for the hopes and dreams of a world without war. Somewhere between the friend chicken and apple pie Jerome broached the subject of commitment and building a future together. Not wanting to choke on her food, Marianne put the plate down gently, wiped her mouth slowly, and faced him.

the wanderers two
The Wanderers Two ©Edna Dott 

“Jerome, we have been over this before. You know what we are both up against here. Between your departure for Europe with the army and my father’s insistence that I marry someone of my own faith, we don’t stand a chance until I am over 21, and even then there are no guarantees.” 

“OK, I accept the point about the army, and that is indeed a huge point against our relationship, but I cannot accept the fact that you will not stand up to your father and fight for us.” 

“Even if I did stand up to him, I face expulsion from the home, with the likelihood of never being allowed near my family ever again, just like my sister. My mother barely survived the first time, she would crumble if she lost me as well, her last remaining anchor. I can live without ever speaking to my father again, you know that, but my mother is something else. I will not give her up.” 

“So what you are telling me is that it is your mother or me…” 

“Don’t over-simplify things Jerome. It is anything but a simple choice for me, for us. No matter which way I go I remain a prisoner of circumstance and stand to lose someone I cannot live without. We are the wanderers two, you and I, the proverbial star crossed lovers that were never meant to me but are.” 

“If only you hand’t been so nice to me at the hospital…”  

“Would you have preferred that I left you alone to rot in a corner with your misery and drown in depression?” 

“Considering that you are not willing to commit to me or our love, yes.” and he dropped his hand sorrowfully to the side, turned away, and buried his head in the palms of his hands. Only the shaking of his shoulders betrayed his emotions, and Marianne felt like the ultimate traitor, and was scare to even touch the one man she loved more than anyone else.

The temperature outside dropped significantly but the cabin was on fire indoors. The window fogged up and by the time they caught their breath again, Jerome grinned , took Marianne’s hand in his, and with her index finger drew on the pane. She looked up at him with the languid smile that only comes with afterglow and nodded, “Yes indeed, we heart the rain.” 

“To hell with the war and the family!” he shouted and picked her and carried her over to the sofa.

Marianne opened her eyes and allowed the tears to flow freely. Every year on March 20th for the last 71 years she returned to the cabin to celebrate that moment with Jerome. It was the last time she ever saw him. The shores of Normandy claimed his life on June 6th later that year and instead of a June bride, she became a summer loner with birds.

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