Branscombe Hall: Part Five

This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 850 words.
My thanks to Sue Judd for the use of her photo.

Engrossed as I was in my daily visits to the Hall, I had almost forgotten about Gregg coming up that Saturday. He made the long drive in his dad’s car, and his hotel was a modest place on the edge of Gloucester. It was lucky that he rang me on the Friday evening to remind me of the address of his hotel, or I might not have shown up at all.

There is a lot of truth in the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. He looked lovely when I met him in the city. Smartly dressed in a nice suit, fit and happy, full of smiles. I had packed an overnight bag, telling my dad not to expect me home until Sunday. I hadn’t told him I was meeting Gregg, and he didn’t ask where I was going.

Although I was not going to initiate taking our relationship to the next level, I was ready to do so if that was what what Gregg wanted. But when we went up to his room late that afternoon, he wanted to talk, not make love.

“Something is happening that I can’t tell you about, ‘Licia. Army stuff, and you will know about it soon anyway. But it has made me think seriously about us”. He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a ring box. Dropping his accent to speak strangely formally, I was gobsmacked by what he said.

“Alicia, I think you are fantastic. I am completely in love with you, and I would be the happiest man in the world if you would agree to be my wife”.

I let him slip the ring onto my finger. A tiny diamond in the centre, sapphires either side. It felt a bit loose, but sparkled nicely. I realised later that I didn’t actually say anything in reply, but I remembered nodding my head eagerly. The next hour was a blur. He wrapped his arms around me, said how much he loved me, and then we made love on top of the bed, still half-dressed. He hadn’t even asked if I was on the pill, but luckily I was.

When we were getting ready to go out to dinner, he hit me with another surprise.

“The thing is, I might be going away soon. A long way away. So it would be great if we could get married now. No fuss, just some witnesses, and maybe have a proper celebration when I get back. I can stay on here, and we can enquire about a special licence for a Registry Office wedding in Gloucester next week. That okay with you”.

All these years later, I still have no idea why I agreed. No idea why I didn’t remind him of the distance we lived from each other, and that I would never want to work in an Essex auctioneers. I should have said so much, but I said nothing. Just more stupid nodding. Did I really want to get married that badly? I suppose I must have. He insisted on driving to my home on the Sunday, to talk to dad.

That was a difficult conversation.

Not strictly true, as there was very little conversation. Dad looked at me, then looked at Gregg. Turning to me he quietly said, “You are a grown woman, and if that is what you want, then I will support you completely”. Then he reached over and shook Gregg’s hand. I almost wished he had lost his temper instead, as my dad seemed to age ten years in five seconds. “Shall we have a drink, Gregory? Just a small one to celebrate, as you are driving?” Gregg grinned, and visibly relaxed.

“It’s just Gregg, actually. My mum tells the story that when she was pregnant with me, she had a craving for Gregg’s sausage rolls, couldn’t get enough of them. She tells my dad that if it’s a boy, she’s gonna call him Gregg”. My dad had almost certainly never heard of the bakery chain, but he smiled kindly anyway.

As it turned out, it wasn’t that easy to circumvent the twenty-eight days notice to get married in time. Gregg had to involve his commanding officer in the process, using the reasoning that he was being posted somewhere for an indeterminate time. We spent hours in the city trying to arrange it, and I missed two full days at Branscombe hall, plus the Friday when we actually got married. There was a cancellation on the Friday morning. Just as well, as Gregg had to go back to barracks that night.

Dad came, Norma was a witness for me, and John Alwright witnessed for Gregg. John was our company handyman, and the only one doing nothing that morning. I walked out onto the street as Mrs White, and had to say goodbye to my husband there and then. He was getting a taxi back to the hotel before driving back to Essex.

While I was in the city, I had my engagement ring altered.

42 thoughts on “Branscombe Hall: Part Five

      1. In India, marriages are arranged by the family. Which means that moms make sure of everything. There is no such a thing as popping the question suddenly 🤣 Every step is planned meticulously, whether bride and groom like it or not 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It seems as if they hardly know each other or themselves for that matter. I wonder why the push to marry so quickly? And what mysterious mission is Gregg going on? So many questions…hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) There is a lot of truth in the saying that absinthe makes the heart grow fonder of Bohemian culture.
    (2) Gregg: “I just want to talk about not making love with you. That is, until we do make love, at which time I’ll stop talking about it.”
    (3) Gregg dropped his accent, but not the ring box.
    (4) Bad citation: “Alicia, I think you are far from being the most grotesque excuse for a woman that I’ve ever seen. Sure, I find your appearance and manners totally disgusting, but I would still be the happiest man in the world if you would agree to clean my toilet bowl once a week.”
    (5) Bad citation: “He wrapped his arms around me, said how much he loved me, and then we made wild and passionate love under the bed. So when you hear things that go bump, bump, bumping in the night, don’t be afraid. It’s just the two of us amorous ghosts hump, hump, humping on the bedroom floor.”
    (6) Alicia’s dad seemed to age ten years in just five seconds. But you should have seen him a minute later. He looked like someone ready to share creepy tales from the crypt.
    (7) Overheard:
    Alicia: “How about a roll in the hay?”
    Gregg: “I’d prefer a roll in the sausage.”
    (8) Alwright was known to be an agreeable chap.

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