The Stranger

The Stranger

A Story by Laura Ann
"

A story I wrote for language arts class. Feel free to tell me what you think.

"

“THE STRANGER”

 

            The minute he stepped inside the boardinghouse, I knew he wasn’t from around here. The strange man, probably attracted to our little facility by the flowers and green curtains by the window, came into Marn and Caleb’s home, clad in a black suit with a black tie and recently-shined dark shoes to match. His long, grey overcoat sheltered him from the pouring rain outside, and the large top hat he was wearing made him look even taller than he already was.

            “Who’s he?” Mary murmured to me as she took a deep drag of her cigarette. “I haven’t seen him ‘round here before.” Nonetheless, she fearlessly stepped forward to greet him.

            The man gazed at Mary, sizing her up. Her lavender low-cut top and clingy dark pants were certainly something to stare at. He examined her high-heeled fashionable boots and then his eyes full upon her face. Mary’s dark brown curls were pulled away from her young, pretty face to reveal a set of sienna eyes that sparkled with anticipation. Her lips, cherry red from her lipstick, rested on the tip of her cigarette. They turned upwards into the inviting smile I knew all too well.

            “Welcome to Marn’s Bed and Breakfast,” Mary said. Smoke puffed out of her mouth. “Let me take your coat and hat, sugar.” She broke the imaginary barrier between the two of them and reached for the stranger’s coat. Balancing her cigar in her mouth, she slid off his jacket, slyly rubbing his back and arms as she did so. Then she stood on the tips of her toes and grabbed his hat.

            In the kitchen behind me, I heard Victoria cursing under her breath in Spanish. She despised what Mary was and always made a big deal out of it every time a new masculine boarder came. I preferred to stand aside and envy how Mary won over the men so easily. The only guy that I’ve ever been able to get is my brother’s best friend, which hardly counts for anything.

            “You came right on time,” Mary continued. “Enna was just about to serve dinner.” She turned to give me a harsh and meaningful look, then looked back at the stranger. He smiled kindly and took a seat at our long, elegant, oak dining table.

            I stepped back into the kitchen and closed the door behind me, allowing Mary and the odd man to have a little privacy. I joined Victoria at the sink as she strained some vegetables.

            “Marn,” I instructed, pointing to the staircase. Victoria set down the food on the stove and left to get Marn, rolling her eyes the whole way.

            I grabbed some spices off of the wooden pantry shelves and quickly sprinkled a few over the chicken that Victoria had been cooking. Then, I pulled five plates out of the cupboard and served everyone a piece of chicken. I took the pot of vegetables and served them on top of the chicken.

            When I came back out of the kitchen to place the food on the table, Victoria was helping Marn and Caleb get into their chairs. Once they were comfortable enough, she went back into the kitchen. Victoria isn’t allowed to eat with us when company is over. Most people don’t take kindly to her race.

            I gave everybody their food, making sure to leave the best for our guest. I brought a bottle of wine out from the cupboard and poured some into everyone’s glass, then sat down across from Mary and the strange man.

            “Tell me your name, son,” Marn requested, looking at him. She smiled her generous wrinkly smile.

            “David,” he replied. His voice was smooth and deep. Illuminated by the flames dancing off the candles on the table, David looked even more mysterious�"and handsome. He had light blond hair that was combed back across his head, and blue eyes so pale that they were almost white.

            “I see you’ve met Mary,” Marn said. Like Victoria, she too knows what Mary does, but she doesn’t complain. It’s the only way she can get money to pay for her boardinghouse. Marn and Caleb are too old to be hired for any jobs, either.

            Mary smiled that smug smile of hers and took a bite of chicken.

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

            Later that night, I had finished bathing and just changed into my nightgown, when Mary burst through my door without warning.

            “Thanks for knocking,” I told her, and couldn’t help but smile.

            She ignored me, instead taking her cigarette out of her mouth and saying, “So, you goin’ to join me tonight?” The orange tip went back between her lips.

            “I’d love to. Just let me change first,” I said. “I’ll be up there in a second.” Mary nodded and walked away, slamming my door behind her.

            I walked over to my wardrobe and pulled out my favorite gown. It was a yellow gown with a slightly low neck and had white lace at the edges. The sleeves stretched down to just below my elbows. I then stood in front of the mirror and put back my honey-colored hair.

            I exited my room and climbed upstairs into the old attic, which had sort of become more of a ballroom than anything else. Mary was leaning over her record player and fiddling around with it. Suddenly, a song with a rather fast beat started playing loudly. Mary walked over to me, grabbed my wrist, and started twirling me every this way and that. I giggled and found myself dancing along with her. We went like this for quite some time before she came to an abrupt stop and stared at the doorway.

            I turned to look, too, and saw David standing there, watching us.

            “Would you like to join us?” Mary asked, breaking away from me and sidling up to him.

            David took in everything: the old, beat-up phonograph; the dusty, cramped attic; Mary in her gorgeous dark blue dress. Slowly, a smile formed on his face.

            “It would be my pleasure,” he said. He and Mary joined me by the record player, just as Arkansas Traveler started playing. We started bouncing around, tapping our feet, and twirling all over the place. David even dipped us a few times.

            I was startled and saddened when the song ended and a slow one came on. Unsure of what to do, I glanced over at the others and noticed something odd.

            David reached down, took Mary’s delicate hand in his, and laced their fingers together. His arm slipped behind her back, and her other hand rested on his waist. She pressed her head against his chest, and his chin rested on the top of her hair. Slowly, very slowly, they started to circle around the ballroom.

            I felt a smile form on my face as I watched them, but then quickly realized that I should go. Without saying goodbye, I made my way downstairs and under my cozy covers.

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

            David didn’t understand the concept of “Bed and Breakfast.” He stayed for lunch, and dinner, then for the night. The night turned into another night, then one more night, and another. A week soon passed, and he had no intention of leaving.

            It was probably because of Mary. Each night, I heard their soft footsteps above me, as they danced over and over to the same slow song. Eventually I got so tired of listening that I fell asleep to their constant pattern: One, two, three. One, two, three, four. I became used to the rhythm lulling me to sleep every night.

            One morning, Mary came into my room with her signature cigarette in hand. Her pale cheeks were flushed, and her chocolate eyes gleamed more than usual. With no warning whatsoever, she threw her arms around my neck.

            “Enna, I have the best news!” she gushed, breathing smoke into my ear.

            I stared at her in bewilderment as she pulled away and stuck the stog back in her mouth. “Yes?”

            “David and I are engaged!” Mary hugged me again.

            I was slightly taken aback. Mary was only fifteen, and David was at least twenty. Still, I couldn’t help but ignore this and feel happy for her. I knew that she loved David more than anyone else. I also knew that David was special, very special.

            I hugged Mary in return, not caring if her cigar burned a hole through my back.

            “That’s great. Congratulations!”

            “You’re invited to the wedding, of course,” Mary said, smiling wildly. “So are Marn, Caleb, and Victoria.”

           I laughed and the two of us sat on my bed, talking excitedly of wedding plans and everything else.

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

            Six days before the wedding, David was required to go to Europe. He was supposed to dress in a uniform, carry around a gun, and shoot people. Neither Mary nor I saw the point in this, but the country had passed a drafting law, and we had no choice but to obey it.

            “He’ll be back in a few weeks, when they’re done with everything,” Mary assured me, and herself. “They can’t go around killing everybody for very long. Otherwise they’d have no one left.” She forced a laugh and pulled out a new cigarette.

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

            Every day, at six o’clock in the morning, Mary would go and sit by the windowsill and watch the people pass by. She was waiting for David to come home; eager to have the wedding. She would stare out the window and smoke all she wanted until it was midnight and I came down to get her.

            After the first two weeks, I could tell that the lack of sleep and chain-smoking was really starting to take its toll on Mary. Her eyes lost their merry sparkle and had bags beneath them, and she developed a horrible cough. Victoria had to constantly fill up glasses of water for her. Still, Mary refused to leave her spot next to the window. She looked forward to each day, hoping that David would come home and take her in his arms once more.

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

            The next two months went by, and there was still no sign of David. I think both Mary and I (and everybody else, for that matter) knew that he wasn’t coming back. I confronted Mary about it one day.

            “Um, Mary?” I asked sweetly, as I joined her on the window seat. My hand brushed against her arm. There was a long period of silence. Then I said, “I don’t think he’s going to come back.”

            “Of course he is!” Mary said harshly. Her voice raised. “HE HAS TO!” she screamed. “HE HAS TO! DON’T LIE TO ME, ENNA!” She breathed in and out quickly and glared at me. “HE’S GOING TO COME BACK! HE’S! GOING! TO! COME! BACK!!! HE’S…He’s…” Her eyes softened and she buried her head in my shoulder, sobbing violently. I rubbed her back, not knowing what else to do.

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

            From then on, Mary kept smoking more and more. She hoped that it would kill her.

           And, eventually, it did. When David came home on December 20th, 1918, just in time for Christmas, it was too late. She was already gone.

© 2010 Laura Ann


Author's Note

Laura Ann
I'm a real sucker for unhappy/unpredictable endings. I wonder if my teacher has noticed by now :P

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I just now fully read this.


Me gusta

Posted 8 Years Ago


Amazing. I usually can't stand stories with sad/unhappy endings, but this is very well written:)

Posted 9 Years Ago


This was good...it had me hooked wanting to find out what actually happened in the end......what a sad ending. I wonder how many stories like that happened in reality back then? Your use of dialogue is very smooth and flows well.....good description of characters too without it being overkill.

Posted 9 Years Ago


I will show you my story. I'll try to finish it in an hour or 2.

Posted 9 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on December 8, 2010
Last Updated on December 8, 2010
Tags: the, stranger, landylady, prompt, world, war, one, 1, story, laura

Author

Laura Ann
Laura Ann

InAGalaxyFarFarAway, IL



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Hopefully a better person than I used to be. I don't write nearly as often as I should, but I'll try to post when I can. UPDATE: A lot of this writing is now outdated. Proceed at your own risk.. more..

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