I promise to love you tomorrow

Sally loves her husband Michael. At least, she tries. But nothing could ever make her forgive him. Michael loves Sally, and their daughter Amy. At least, he tries. But noting will ever make up for what he did to Amy. Not for Sally, for whom Jack is the only person who can still touch her heart. (13+)

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4. The Dinner Party

 

While Sally was getting a drink Mrs. Moor appeared in the doorway. Sally was more relieved than happy to see her. When she heard her ring the doorbell, she let Michael answer it, as he was in the hallway. She completely forgot about the flowers she was still holding in her hand. She quickly pulled out a vase and poured water into it with an expert’s hand, so that it didn’t splash her dress at all. She then arranged the flowers, and placed them at the dining room table. Yellow chrysanthemums. Sally’s heart fluttered. Did Jack pick them by random or did he really know what they meant? She secretly knew it was the latter. Secret admirer.   She breathed out, straightened her skirt out and went to greet Mrs. Moor.

“Hello Mrs. Moor! It’s good to see you” she smiled as she turned her cheek to accept a kiss from the old lady. “You’ve met Mr. Jack Cranford?

“It’s good to see you too dearest. Yes, Yes, Your dear husband told me all about him. No doubt he’ll have no trouble with the ladies, will you Mr. Jack?” Mrs. Moor winked at Jack as she let Sally put her big fur coat in the closet, revealing Mrs. Moor’s dashing, sparkling black dress. Mrs. Moor was a woman who certainly didn’t dress like a 70 year old. “I’ll tell you what though! These curtains... you really must get those French ones from Tiffany’s. So shiny, and elegant, and not at all see through from the outside.”

“Alright Ma’am. Shall we come through for drinks?” Sally suggested, interrupting Mrs. Moor.

“Sounds like a fine idea. Call me Dorothy, I tell you so many times” Mrs. Moor said, stepping through the hall and then the sitting room as if it was her second home. The old lady stepped with a dance-like grace in her soft sparkly slippers, that matched her dress. Once they entered the spacious living room, she settled herself against the fireplace, which was lit with a small fire sparkling at her feet. She pulled out a cigarette holder, complete with a cigarette and lighter, from an unknown place.  Sally busied herself pouring the drinks. Jack, smiled shyly at Mrs. Moor, and seeing her approving gaze propped up the courage to converse with her.

“Did you enjoy the service this morning Mrs.Moor? I saw you in St. John’s.”

“Dear boy...it took me all my strength to just keep my eyes open. Bless your little soul”  She took a drag of her cigarette and weaved her hand through the smoke as she spoke. “Unfortunately, dear boy, I am one of those old codgers that the Lord’s voice just can’t reach no more. While I am most familiar with his Amazing Grace and Mighty Fortress, I am not in the slightest bit familiar nor interested in what the Good Lord has to say to Revered Dane. Now, back in my day we had a certain  Reverend Stone. He sure knew how to show us ladies a good time. Preached like a saint though. When he spoke it was truly a heavenly sound.”

By now Sally had poured out drinks. Mrs. Moor was already taking a big swig of the white wine, when Jack stopped her.

“Wait! Shouldn’t we toast?” Mrs. Moor looked at the boy with a queer expression.

“Alright. What shall we toast to?”  At this Jack thought for a moment. He was just about to mumble Sally White’s name when Mrs. Moor frowned and said,

 “Why Michael, where’s your drink?” 

Michael looked meaningfully into Sally’s eyes. Her whole body tensed, anticipating the moment he might look away. She looked up at him, focusing on maintaining a neutral expression.

“I decided to quit it for a while. Not good for me, really.” He tried out a smile on Sally.  Any other day, when she might have not cheated on her husband, she might have looked at him unimpressed. But today... Today Sally did cheat on her husband, so the best she could do was pull up the corners of her mouth into a  not even half-hearted, smile.

“All the more for us” Mrs. Moor shrugged. “To a lovely evening!”

“A lovely evening!” the others replied, raising their glasses.

 

The dinner went smoothly, as it always did when Sally was cooking. Hot duck that melted in your mouth, creamy potatoes, vegetable full of flavour, and gravy to die for, made their way into the guests’ stomachs. Simple, yet perfected to the last pea to achieve a contempt feeling of blissful homey cooking.

Sally smiled down the table, looking at the guests. Mrs. Moor, who “in all her years of life never tasted such good potatoes” talked contently among the men, telling them of her younger years, the depression, and how she met Franklin D. Roosevelt. Michael, who nodded, “ooh-ed and “ahh-ed” in time with Mrs. Moor’s story, ate his food as he always did, with a nasty habit of letting his cheeks flab around in all directions as he chewed. Jack, amazed by the texture of the duck, was helping himself to some more. He looked so much younger when eating. Eager eyes, which followed his fork. A silently smiling, full mouth. Energetic hands that scooped, cut, and plunged into the duck with the cutlery. Jack was a pleasure to watch eating.

Sally listened to the conversation, but didn’t register any information. She was too busy looking. She took her eyes off Jack. Michael could notice. She looked around the warm room.

The dining room was Sally’s favourite place. Smiles were always guaranteed here. The golden chandelier and yellowy wallpaper reflected her mood. Perhaps the most beautiful object in the room was the table. Covered by a crystal white cloth, its age remained a mystery to the guests. Even to Sally. She only knew that this table was the only table she ate at throughout her life. When Sally married Michael it was handed down to her. It was her private pride and joy. A mirror ran the length of the room, reflecting the good atmosphere.

 

Sally eyes found the chrysanthemums once more. Joy ran through her veins. Jack, Jack, Jack. She noticed each petal, every shade of gold. A square flash of white disturbed the pattern. A note? It took all of Sally’s strength to withhold herself, and not let curiosity get the better of her. She glanced around the room. Mrs Moor kept the men in a heated discussion, from what Sally could tell about sofas. Had she been paying attention, it would probably have made her laugh. None of them noticed the note. Sally sighed and let herself slip into a cosy, safe cocoon of housekeeping and hosting.    

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