Elizabeth Sophia Masen has everything a woman of her time could want; A loving husband, a son she adores and a easy lifestyle in Chicago. Yet the Fall of 1918 threatens what she holds most dear: Her son Edward The Last few days of Edwards life through the eyes of his mother. "Sequel" to 1918 Now UP! For More of Elizabeth and a vampire Edward turn into "Returning to Chicago" ASAP!
2. Morning, 26th September
Rating 3.9/5 Word Count 1621 Review this Chapter
“Mrs. Masen I presume,” the solider said, giving a half bow which I attempted to return. I was shaking to horribly, or at least I felt like I was. “Yes, I’m Mrs. Masen," I replied, trying to see if that would gather some confidence, "please have a seat,” I said gesturing to one of the two chairs that sat on a Persian rug.
“Would you care for some tea?” I asked, gesturing towards the buzzer that would call one of the kitchen hands to bring some.
“No thank you Mrs. Masen, I’ll be brief, I have several other appointments today,” he said briskly, removing his hat and sitting down in the chair beside me.
“What can I do for you sir,” I asked wanting this to be over as soon as possible.
“I wanted to talk to you about your son, Edward is it?”
“Y-Yes.” I trembled and my heart skipped a beat. Oh the cost of being patriotic, I thought, for love of country and love of child, what do you do when they conflict?
He continued on as though nothing was wrong, trying to be polite and at ease, to make this as easy as it would be for me. The poor solider was oblivious to the fact he was doing a horrid job. “The United States Army is going to need men to fight in Europe as I’m sure you know.”
“I’m sorry you must have my son mistaken for my husband; my son Edward is still but a boy,” I replied coolly, trying to remain calm as my heart raced in my chest faster the Model T’s in the streets outside.
“With all respect Mrs. Masen, Edward Jr. is a Young man, and his country is calling for him,” he handed me the telegram which I opened quickly staring at in disbelief.
I skimmed the words picking out the words I was dreading. Edward Anthony Masen.... United States Army....Sail on the Olympic from New York to Paris....November 1st 1918.
“He is to report November 1st? He doesn’t graduate till a month later!” I said stammering. I had hit my brick wall. My son would be fighting in France in less then three months. My Nephew Alex, just a year older then Edward had enlisted last year and all Eliza had of him was an empty room and personal effects that had been sent home. I had nightmares of young men laying in foxholes and now my dear Edward would be one of them.
Suddenly the door opened and my deliverance was nigh, my husband was home.
Never was I happier to see my husband as I was now. He was a rather tall man, his hair a dark chestnut was once thick but had thinned out over the course of his marriage to my nerves. He must have just returned from the office, his briefcase still in hand and his suit still commanding authority. His dark blue eyes surveyed the room behind his oval glasses, glancing from the officer standing attention and then to me, who I’m sure looked in a state of distress.
“Elizabeth, you can leave now,” he said briskly as I nodded and headed out of the room, a sense of relief rushing through my body. Mr. Masen, would be able to solve this, or at least I prayed he could do so.
I walked calmly out of the room, but began Running through the house and up the stairs to our bedroom. Closing the door, I flung myself on the bed, putting my face in my pillow, allowing quiet, miniscule wails to be heard as I crumbled the telegram in my fist.
I don’t know how long I laid there, but I heard the door creek open as my husband entered.
“Lizzie are you awake love?”
Lizzie. He had called me that ever since we met that first summer. I had been sitting on my sister’s porch at her town house reading Pride and Prejudice and we had struck up conversation of it. Upon learning my name was Elizabeth, Lizzie became my pet name, the name he would call me when I was at my highest point of joy and now to comfort me in my hour of dread.
“Lizzie darling,” he called out again, seeing if I was awake.
“Is he gone?” I asked my voice still shaken.
“Yes Lizzie, he’s gone,” he said in a sigh walking to kneel at my side of the bed, gently stroking my hair. I turned to face him with what I know had to be a tear strained face.
“Dearest, what are we going to do?” I watched my husband take a deep breath that looked as painful as I felt. “He’s going to have to go to France, Lizzie.” I knew each time he said my name, he was trying to add hidden comfort, but it wasn't enough for what my mind was going through.
“No,” I whispered, my heart pranging. “Didn’t you tell them I’ve already lost two children? Our family already gave a nephew, Don’t they know Edward is all we have?”
“Do you remember my Uncle Martin when he came to the wedding?” he asked looking at me with blue eyes. “He served in the Civil War, in the Battle of Crooked River he fought ...who was it, Major Whitlock, I think---anyway,. Edward’s has been hearing stories from him ever since he was a little boy. Not to mention his grandfathers, Edward will be alright dearest. . . He’ll be alright.” I though he said the second one for himself instead of me, but it still helped a bit until...
“But what if he isn’t?” I whispered again. My husband looked into my eyes, his hands cupping my face as he spoke smoothly, his eyes never leaving mine. “I can’t promise you that he’ll return healthy Lizzie, but I can promise you that he’ll be taking the best care he can so you hold him again.”
“He’s too young Eddie, he's too young,” I repeated, tears coming back to my face stinging as I bowed my head on his shoulder, choking sobs.
“Dearest,” he sighed opening his arms to where I fit in his embrace perfectly; “ Lizzie , you need to lie down and get some rest, you look pale, your hairs a mess, you need some sleep. I’ll tell Edward for you—“
Tell him what? That his childhood is over and he won’t be able to finish school? That we’ll be separated? Tell him that his mother is too weak to see him leave her and can’t bear the thought of seeing his face when he learns?
“No.” I said, shocked how quickly it came, looking up at my husband with alarm flashing through my eyes.“Can we not tell him, not right now anyway,” I asked, gripping my husband’s shoulders looking him straight in the eye.
“He has a right to know,” he said gently, putting his hand under my chin perking it up to my face “I know, but he has a right to be a child for a few evenings more.”
My husband smiled at me, bending down and tenderly kissing my nose. “Alright my dear one,” he whispered, “We can do that.”
A wave of peace similar to the one I felt when I was excused from the meeting hours before swept through me again. “Thank you Eddie, I love you,” I whispered, leaning into his loving arms, whisphering my little nickname for him. “ I Love you my Lizzie,” he said rocking me tenderly. I smiled amist the tears, hoping that someday Edward would find someone who he could hold like this.
26th September 1918
254 Cherry Lane
Despite my beliefs, the sun rose this morning, proof that life can go on when everything you think can never change is threatened. Mr. Masen still woke up at five to read in his study before leaving to the office. Edward has left for school and I am alone writing to you, a evil piece of technology the least of my woes.
Yesterday the worst news came my typewriter nemeses, Edward received his papers and it had to be the worst experience I have ever had. Mr. Masen and I have not yet told him so last night at dinner we where forced to behave as though everything was normal the rest of the evening. Dinner was silent and as hard as Mr. Masen and I tried to act normal, I think that Edward knows something is going on that is occupying our thoughts. Edward is very pensive, I’m confident he’s aware something is horribly wrong.
I hate lying to my son. He repeatedly asked if everything was all right, and when we repeatedly replied that everything was perfectly all right it was horrible. Even the soothing sounds of his piano didn’t calm my troubled heart; he has to know that there is something horribly wrong. But I can’t tell him. Each time he asks us, in a way it is similar of having a prang hammered deeper and deeper into your heart. Mr. Masen and I have decided that we need to tell him sooner then later. Honestly more Mr. Masen then I. If I had it my way, we’d never tell him anything and he could stay oblivious to these surrounding storms that are closing in on him.
We’re going to the opera tomorrow for a special treat, and my dear husband thinks the following day we will tell him. I don’t know how I can take it. What do you say, little typewriter, at a moment like this, when you can’t find the words to tell it like it is? What do you say?
- Kait Hobbit
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