Life With Mabel: Part Four

This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 745 words.

On Mabel’s sixteenth birthday, Reginald proposed officially. Unable to afford a new engagement ring he used his grandmother’s, with the blessing of his mum. He waited until they were alone in the parlour, and showed her the ring in its ancient box. No getting down on one knee, no talk of undying love, just a simple, “It’s my nan’s old ring. Will it do?”

It would do for Mabel, and she dragged him excitedly into the kitchen to show her mum and dad, and break the news. Dad shook his hand and said, “Welcome to the family, Reg”. Mum examined the ring in the box and was more practical. “It will need to be made bigger to fit your ring finger, love. I will take it to Jenkins’ in the High Street and get him to sort it”.

Further discussion settled on a decision to wait until she was eighteen. Reg had finished his apprenticeship and would be twenty. He would be earning good money by then, and had been excused National Service as he worked on the railways. Mum allowed herself to get excited.

“Just imagine, getting married in nineteen-fifty. A new decade with no war, and everything to look forward to. You are lucky young people, you really are”.

Then they went to see Reg’s parents, to make it offcial with them. Henry and Edna Price really liked Mabel, and both embraced her warmly. Edna nudged her, and winked. “Won’t be long before we hear the patter of tiny feet, eh? I’m so glad I survived the war to live to see grandchildren”. Mabel was nodding excitedly, but Reg had gone all red-faced.

Once Mister Jenkins had altered the ring, Mabel showed it off to her colleagues at Woolworth’s. The diamonds surrounding the central Ruby were only like sparkling dust, but the Ruby was a decent size. They said all the usual things.

“Ooh, so he’s making an honest woman of you”.

“Make sure you don’t get up the stick before the big day”.

“Now he will expect you to go all the way, mark my words”.

“Don’t rush into anything. You’ve got two years to change your mind”.

She happily ignored all that. She had Reg now, and her future was secure. No having to go to dances or hanging around the park at weekends to see if anyone chatted her up. No explaining why she didn’t have a boyfriend. Mabel had gone straight to the next stage. She had a fiancΓ©. Now she had to get him into shape.

On the next trip to the cinema, she suggested they sit in the back row of the stalls. Reg was surprised. “You don’t get a very good view from there, and we always go in the circle”. She stuck to her guns. “Back row tonight, Reggie. It’s what I want”.

They were soon settled, along with all the other couples who claimed the back row for the same purpose. As soon as the lights went off and the film started, Mabel reached over and lifted Reg’s hand onto her leg. When he looked round at her, she kissed him passionately, almost climbing over the armrest as she did so. That seemed to work, and he didn’t push her away. So she moved his hand further up under her skirt, until she could feel it touching the top of her stocking. That was far enough for now.

Reg just left his hand there, so she kissed him again. Suddenly he stood up, whispering “I need the toilet”. While he was gone, Mabel looked along the row at the other couples. Most of the boys had their arms around the girl, and all were so close together, you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them. When he came back, he sat with his arms folded, staring at the screen. She put her head on his soulder, but he made no effort to put his arm around her.

Walking back from the cinema later, she decided to ask him the question.

“What’s the matter, Reggie? Don’t you fancy me?” He looked angry, and stopped walking. “Course I do, I’m getting married to you, ain’t I? Just don’t see the need for all that other stuff yet. There will be time enough for that once we’re married. You’re not one of those easy girls, after all”.

It wasn’t really the answer she had hoped to hear, but she held his hand as they started walking again.

30 thoughts on “Life With Mabel: Part Four

  1. (1) “I’d get down on one knee, love, but I have a torn meniscus in one, and arthritis in the other.”
    (2) Reg should have hobbled over to the jewelry store to buy the one ring to rule them all.
    (3) I was going to say something about working the railways, but I lost my train of thought.
    (4) Mabel was born in 1932 during the Great Depression. But that era wasn’t nearly as depressing as Reginald’s sense of romance.
    (5) Henry and Edna were born Henrietta and Edward. They both paid a hefty Price to undergo a surgical procedure to change their gender.
    (6) “The diamonds surrounding the central Ruby were only like sparkling dust, but the Ruby was a decent size. They said all the usual things.” And what are the usual things that talking gemstones say?
    (7) Bad citation: “No having to go to dances or hanging around the park at weekends to see if anyone chatted her up. And no walking the wharfs in hopes of getting swept off her feet by a drunken sailor.”
    (8) Overheard:
    Reg: “You’re not one of those easy girls.”
    Mabel: “Don’t you know? All Earth girls are easy!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Reg is so like my friend’s first husband. She even took him camping before they were married, but he kept to his own sleeping bag. It’s just like their own story, but circa 1979 instead of 1949. Luckily she found happiness third time around.

    Liked by 1 person

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