My heart was beating as I listened to my grandmother tell me about how for years she was secretly courted by a wealthy young man, despite his family being dead against their relationship.
During all those years that he and I snook away for romantic rendezvous…
We ne’er showed
Our secret code
At his abode
…to any other soul. It was a mysterious unspoken language between he and I. All those years when we were kept apart by the most miserable of circumstances, his rich aunt who detested that my father was a mere tradesman. She announced our union would be a disgrace to the noble bloodline from which she descended, and forbade him to see me.
However, with his encouragement Auntie would go away for the occasional trip to Lyme or the New Forest on one of her little vacations. My beloved would always hasten to give me that sign, so that I knew that apart from the servants, he would be alone at home and could receive me…
I’d see that light
That meant we might
Make love that night
…and I would rush down to the manor house, squeeze through the gap he had created in the perimeter walls and make my way through the pristine gardens. I had to climb the trellis erected for the wisteria, to reach his balcony. He would be there waiting to lift me over the stone balustrade.
It was terribly exciting, terribly romantic. He would kiss each one of the scratches I had incurred in my climb up over the gnarled twigs that scraped against my soft skin. He would hold me in his arms, whispering to me that it was agony not being allowed to see me.
Eventually your Grandfather spurned his rich aunt’s wishes in choosing to elope so he could marry me. In outrage, his aunt cut him out of her will. Your grandfather gave up his inheritance for me.
After his crabby aunt had passed away, he went to visit his second cousin who had received the inheritance and made just one request. Your grandfather asked for the lantern that hung in the porch on the south side of the house. His request was granted, and we fixed it up in the vestibule here at the cottage we raised our children in.
The lantern that for eight years proclaimed the message I was longing for:
“The coast is clear
You need not fear
Come in my dear”
This was my response to FANDANGO’S FLASH FICTION Challenge: