In church, George was surprised when Reverend Wyeth mentioned him by name in prayer over the bowed heads of the congregation. "...and Lord, please watch over our sons and brothers and loved ones who are fighting in the war. And please watch over our brave friend, George VanArsdale, as he goes to join them this week..." A loud gasp was heard in the church; Clarissa Fallon's surprise was evident.
When the service let out, Clarissa encountered George out front. "You must call on me today, George."
"Eleven o'clock." George nodded.
* * *
Even in the shade of the Fallons' porch, George sweated rivulets in his Sunday suit. Clarissa was angry. "Why didn't you tell me, George? Why did I first learn it in church, the same as everyone else?" George didn't know what to say. His lips moved but no words formed.
Clarissa dabbed at her eyes with her embroidered handkerchief. "Oh, George! I shall miss you! I shall write you! And I shall pray for your safe return. When do you leave?"
"So soon? Oh, dear! So little time! Not enough to..." Clarissa's voice drifted off for a moment. "Do you remember the story, George, the one I told you about the girl who refused her beau's advances?"
George nodded, puzzled.
"He died without ever knowing a woman." Clarissa's eyes were wide, filling with tears. "Now she has to live with regret the rest of her life." She took George's hands in hers. "I don't want that to happen to us, George." She lifted George's hands and brought them to her breast.
George said, flustered, "We can't possibly be married before Tuesday, Clarissa." He wasn't sure he wanted to marry her in the first place, but he did not say that.
Clarissa lowered her voice. "I was not talking about marriage." She gave him a smoldering look, and held his hands tightly to her breast.
George pulled his hands back and sat up stiff and straight. "I think I should go now."
* * *
© 2019 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.