By Tracy Ward
She told me she loved me. Leaning in to me, crinoline to crinoline, Violetta stroked the small of my back flashing that mischievous smile. I suppose she wished me to say that I loved her and perhaps I did though I'd never admit as much. Her lips were so close to mine as we huddled amidst the throng of people gathered in Mr. Taylor's dance hall. The music played ferociously while I scanned the room for a suitable dance partner. When she leaned in I expected her to tell me some devilish tidbit about someone else close by. The way her eyes widened at the sight of me I thought for sure she had been itching to let me in on a scandalous secret.
We were close friends, her and I. Though we had just become acquainted, we'd spent much of the previous weeks together strolling the park and giggling like unmarried women do when there is nothing else to fill their days. She knew I had my cap set on Mr. Tydesdale and so why she wished to complicate matters thus was beyond comprehension.
“Do you think he'll come?” I asked, pushing her recent confession from my mind.
Her smile slipped away somewhat and she hesitated. I pressed on, not willing to show my distaste for her, at least not in a public house.
She avoided me for a few days following that incident. I can not say I was upset. It was better that she stayed away. Mr. Tydsdale had called at the house once and, as it was, I was free to accept his invite for a stroll. Four days after the dance, she sent me flowers. Red Tulips they were, arranged in a glass vase. There was a card with nothing but a V scrolled on it in what was clearly created by a feminine hand. I hid the card from Mother and pretended they came from Mr. Tydsdale, hoping their existence would never come up in a conversation with him present.
I wanted, with all my heart, to shred those blossoms to pieces and shove them down the privy but Mother watched me, waiting for me to dote upon them exclaiming how lovely they were. They lived for six days in their prominent spot on the mantle, a constant reminder that another woman was pining for me.
I accepted a invitation to Maybelle's house for a garden party. Maybelle and I are not good friends, though she has a lovely garden and some delicious brothers. Imagine my shock when I found Violetta there, looking like the cat who eat a canary. I tried to avoid her but couldn't. She watched me, rather openly I might add, as the afternoon progressed. Finally I resolved to speak to her.
With lemonade in hand, I cornered her in the farthest section of the yard near the potting shed. Making sure we were not seen, I dropped my placid smile. She reached for my hand but I slapped hers away, nearly spilling the lemonade in my other hand. “Stop it!” I yelled. “You can not continue doing this.”
“I can't help it,” she said, with a girlish laugh. “You are all I can think about—”
“No, you can not. I forbid it!”
She bit her lower lip then, and sent her gaze to the ground between us. I thought she would cry then, the reality of what I had said hitting her like a runaway horse and carriage. She didn't though. I saw her let out a breath and raise her eyes to meet mine. “You love me too,” she said, “I know you do.”
She kissed me then. As her lips pressed into mine, I dropped the crystal glass holding my lemonade and tried to push her away. I touched her shoulders with my gloved hands to push her from me, but found her too intent and demanding. Her tongue teased mine and I relented for the briefest of moments. I did not want her kiss, you understand, nor did I encourage it. She held me close and wrapped her arms around me just like a man would.
When she finally pulled away, that devilish smile shining brightly, I slapped her. My gloved hand did little to send the point home and when I tried to slap her with my other hand she grabbed it and we struggled. She was at an advantage and I found myself falling backwards into the bushes. She fell on top of me then and in between my kicks and attempts at pushing her away, I saw that amazingly decadent smile.
It all happened so fast. We were kissing and touching each other all over, enjoying that moment when nothing else mattered. She said she loved me again, whispering it in my ear as we fooled around.
“I love you too,” I answered softly, brushing the tendrils of hair from her face. For however long we were there, hidden amongst the bushes, Maybelle's garden party taking place all around us, we were together, in love and not caring.
After a length, my senses returned. My giddy smile faded and I sat up. I was adjusting my hat, repositioning it's pin when Violetta reached out to me, tracing the form of my waist and hips with her pointed finger. “What's the matter?” she asked, a drunk laugh accenting her lust.
“Do not touch me!” I commanded. I pulled myself up, aware that my white dress looked a wreck. She was the devil I decided. That day, I knew, she would never let me go with another. Shakily, I made my way back to the party, plastering a forced smile to my face as I mingled, all the while wishing for the end to the wretched day. I had been seduced, I decided. Seduced and wooed by the devil intent on securing my soul.
Shortly after I invited her for tea. While we engaged in small talk, I expected her to tell me her tea tasted bitter but she didn't. She accepted two cupfuls from me, never suspecting a thing. I had never done anything like that before and I wasn't sure what to expect. We parted merrily. She kissed my cheek in the standard fashion before wiggling her fingers in goodbye. As she walked down the steps toward the street I almost regretted doing what I did. It was too late then.
Mother told me the next morning at breakfast that Violetta was dead.
“Positively dreadful,” she said, “She fell ill so suddenly. How did she seem when she was here yesterday?”
I shrugged. “Right as rain.”
I knew I had done the right thing. She would have ruined everything. She was going to ruin us all.
So you see, Detective, I simply had no choice because I am suppose to marry Mr. Tydsdale.
Please note this is a work of fiction and in no way does it depict my opinions or feelings regarding same sex relationships or people who partake in them. This is more of a commentary on how society can box us into expected roles