Broken Wings
© Black Tangled Heart

Kent, England. 1945.

She always looked good dressed in black.

Veils across her face were always the colour of ink. Gloves and dresses that covered her ethereal skin resembled the darkest night. The colour had been a perpetual source of solace; she always she looked her best wrapped in shadows.

The fire provided little comfort, its orange flames hissing and crackling as dry kindling smouldered red, leaving a pattern of sparks and ashes across the chipped stone floor. She breathed a barely audible sigh as she tried to suppress tears.

Her white hands shook, grasping the torn, stained telegram as though it were her key to freedom. On the contrary, the untidy words on dirty paper shackled her to misery and solitary confinement.

She pulled her shawl further around her thin shoulders, bowing her head, letting her brittle chestnut hair fall around her gaunt cheeks. There was reassurance in the lace-edged dress she wore; it concealed her protruding hipbones and frail arms.

The paper fluttered to the grown like an injured bird. She bent to pick it up, shielding her green eyes and trembling mouth as her lips unconsciously retraced the terrifying words.

He wasn't coming home.

She'd waited in their bed, beneath a thick eiderdown, for his arms to find her waist, for his breath to caress her neck. She'd stood by the window, watching the snow fall, anticipating the crunch his boots made through the sheaths of ice. She'd let the fire turn her cheeks scarlet, much like his kisses had.

The paper in her hand was the dictator of her fate. She was not Mrs. Connor White any longer. She'd adopted a new name upon reading the words. Widow. A title that clenched her stomach with nausea and hindered her breath. Widow White.

The war had raged fiercely for so long, the sky black with smog and anguished cries. A candle burned from sunrise to twilight each day, she'd made it a beacon for his soul since he'd been ripped from her arms. A puddle of mauve wax formed on her windowsill, the tiny flame hushed by the cold breath of winter, just as his heart had been silenced.

Had he been shot? Did the bullet crack his skull, letting haemoglobin clot his sandy hair? Had be been torn apart from the impact of a bomb? Did flesh and blood scatter like rose petals tossed into the wind?

She lifted herself painfully from the chair and crawled beneath the thick blanket on her bed, a bed that had been cold for so many starless nights. His face was etched in her memory, surfacing as she rested her cheek upon her bony hands.

She wanted nothing more than to join him in the weed-choked cemetery, for their bed to be a casket, for the linen to be satin. She wanted their names to be engraved side by side on the marble stones that rose like decaying pewter flowers from the soft earth, saturated with whispers and tears.

She listened to the rush of wind outside, as it screamed, restlessly scouring the sky. A chill danced along her spine, like frigid fingers tracing configurations across her skin. She turned towards the bitter touch, and saw him lying beside her, brown eyes filled with pain.

Shaking, she touched his face. Euphoric terror wound itself around her. Blood matted his hair; dirt smeared his broken nose and the hollows beneath his cheekbones. His cracked palms stroked her collarbones, gently sliding her shawl from her ivory shoulders. Chapped kisses lingered upon her throat.

"Connor…"

"Bella…"

His touch melted like frost beneath the sun; she shivered involuntarily.

She forced herself to open her eyes.

The bed was cold and vacant; denied of warmth from both her and her love. Her neck was riddled with pain from sleeping awkwardly in the chair, beside the dying embers.

She stared forlornly the telegram, and then at her dress, her symbol of grief and misery. When she'd done up the collar at sunrise that morning, she had been unaware of the part the velvet would eventually play in her life.

She always looked good dressed in black.