They were on the beach together, singing their favourite song quietly to themselves:
“Heaven, I'm in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek”
She looked radiant with curls in her hair; he loved how they framed her face. She almost looked as if she was glowing today, a smile stuck to her face as she hummed the backing music for him. He loved times like this with her. It was always so relaxed, as though they were in their own little bubble and nothing else existed except for the sea before them, the wind in their hair, and of course Virginia and Ralph.
“What were you talking to my father about earlier?” she asked out of the blue.
“You took my father aside to speak to him. What was it about?”
Ralph grinned. “Nothing.”
“Tell me, Ralph,” she appeared to whine, though her facial expression remained nonchalant.
“Nothing for you to be worried about, Virginia.”
“I think I’m going to go for a swim.”
“Ralph!” He ignored her. “Ralph Hamilton, you tell me right now, or so help me God, I will-” Her playful threat dissolved on her lips when he knelt on bent knee. “Ralph?” She gasped at the sight of the small diamond ring before her.
“If you hadn’t the habit of being so persistent, you could’ve had a better proposal at my home with our folks present!” Ralph joked.
“I would rather it be just you and me,” she replied simply, “but you will have to do it again for my mother – she loves romance!”
“I can live with that.” He cleared his throat. “Virginia, I love you. I love you more than anything in the world, and I want to stay within your warm embrace forever. Will you marry me?”
That smile had been enough of an answer. “Yes. Yes, I will!”
The visitor at the door wanted to her, her mother informed, and she knew in that moment what it was about. She took a deep breath and stood to straighten her dress before walking to the door. She never really understood why her mother never invited people into the house, nor did she ask. She remembered having to eventually ask if Ralph could come in every time she answered the door when he came around. Maybe something had happened in her past that kept her from inviting people in.
The walk to the door seemed to take much longer than usual. Her heart beat echoed in her ears, and she could feel herself getting more lightheaded with every step. The door was slightly open so as to avoid letting all the cold in, and she had to take another deep breath to even touch the door knob.
“Mary!” She let out a sigh of relief. “How are you? Have you been well? I haven’t seen you in awhile.”
Her friend smiled. “I’ve been busy with the shop and looking after the family since Father was called up. Mae is there now; she’s been a lot of help lately. How are you? Have you heard anything from Ralph?”
“No. I received a letter from him last month, but nothing since.”
“He will be fine. He’s probably not had chance to write.”
It was as though her life was a play in the theatre – his mother’s grief-stricken eyes met hers and she knew her gut had been right. Mary caught her before she fell to the floor with Helen’s tears.
The service was beautiful, though their wedding would have been more so. A happy young couple in love would have stood where the simple wooden casket was, and the people gathered would’ve worn reds, creams, greens and blues with smiles on their faces instead of black with sorrow.