Okay, hello. So, a preface before you’re allowed to read this: it was assigned in English after we’d read selections from The Canterbury Tales, and the assignment was to write a short story based around a principle/moral/you know what I mean. And I happen to have a very large weak spot for sappy romance. So, yes, I am aware that this is very sappy and also cliche.
I did draw inspiration for it from the poem “And Ask Ye Why These Sad Tears Stream?” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which you can read here if you want.
Anyway, knock yourselves out:
Loved and Lost
Edward and Elizabeth lived in Edinborough, England for the entirety of both their lives, so it is rather surprising that it took them so long to meet. They had seen each other in the course of their lives, of course: passed by each other at the market, sat in the same section at church, attended some of the same plays. It wasn’t until Elizabeth’s eighteenth birthday, however, that they began to know each other.
Edward would never forget their meeting. Elizabeth’s family was not wealthy, nor were they impoverished, but they lived free of want, and spared no love in the celebration of their daughter’s birthday. Her friends and family all gathered in the town square for the festivities, amid food and laughter and music and gifts, not only between themselves and Elizabeth, but among all of them. The anniversary of Elizabeth’s birth was an occasion for celebration by all.
On an errand to the market, Edward found himself among the joyful throng. He grabbed the arm of a passing man. “What is the meaning of this festival?” he asked.
The man smiled. “It’s a party, lad!”
“Yes, but a party for what?” insisted Edward curiously.
“Elizabeth’s birthday. All are invited, sir – grab a drink, have a dance!”
The man retreated into the frenzied crow, even as Edward called after him, “Who’s Elizabeth?”
“Why, that’s me,” a voice to his right answered.
Edward turned, and was met by the most beautiful face he had ever seen. Her golden hair flowed over her shoulders, and warmth and love seemed to radiate from her. She had a wreath of wildflowers woven into her hair, and her eyes sparkled with mirth. For a moment, any speech was caught dead in Edward’s throat.
When he could finally speak, he managed to choke out, “All the best wishes of the day to you, miss,” with a smile for good measure.
“Thank you,” beamed Elizabeth. “Would you like to join the party? There’s plenty of food and drink, and I challenge you not to dance to the music.”
And so Edward found himself caught up in the party, but mostly in Elizabeth, his errand forgotten as he danced and ate and sang and laughed. Soon the sun set and the moon rose, and the revelry began to draw to a close.
As the partygoers wandered home, last laughs chortled and food gone, goodbyes uttered and sleeping children carried in parents’ arms, Edward stayed. He bid his adieus and helped clear away the debris that must always follow a good time, but he did not leave until Elizabeth bid him a good night.
He did not make it more than a few steps, however, before he abruptly turned around. “Elizabeth!” he called. She turned to meet his gaze. “I would very much like to see you again.”
Even in the darkness, her eyes shone. “Tomorrow, I am going to pick apples from the Worthington’s orchard. If you were to be there, too, I cannot say I’d be disappointed.”
Edward smiled. “I believe I may find myself in need of some apples.”
Thus began the tale of Edward and Elizabeth. From the day of the party, they were very nearly inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone in the village when they were married. Theirs was a marriage full of love and joy, though they had trials like everyone else. They never had children, a grief for them both, but nothing could match Edward’s grief when Elizabeth fell ill.
Nine years into their marriage, Elizabeth contracted a serious fever, and despite the stalwart efforts of Edward and the best doctors he could afford, Elizabeth died. Edward’s grief was unequaled, and he lived many years in its shadow.
When asked, however, Edward never condemned the love he and Elizabeth had; he lived in pain, he said, but he still saw his beloved wife in his dreams, and the time they had together in life could never be unwritten by the grief he felt in her absence.
“It is better to have loved and lost,” he would say with a faint smile, “than to never have loved at all.”