This piece is a flash fiction piece for the Dark Fairy Queen Bridal Shower Anthology. A writerly friend of mine is getting married and a bunch of us are showering her with fiction pieces about love and marriage Enjoy
Title: Reginald is Surprised
Author: A.E. Howard
Marriage is an estate generally considered desirable, or so I am told. I personally never understood what would motivate one to give up so much in terms of freedom and privacy for the addition of companionship, and, what is it they say? Oh yes, love.
This was my unswerving opinion as I dedicated myself solely to my studies in magic, leaving no one surprised that I arrived in my middle years still unattached to any female.
One spring Thursday, I was caught away from home when the skies opened up and drenched me. Despite the warmer weather, I was quite grouchy climbing the tree to my home.
One may imagine my disgruntlement when I found not only Rowan, my assistant, among my books, but also a female Opossum I had never met. They looked up when I shut the door none too gently behind me.
“Reginald!” Rowan hopped up, shoving his round glasses up his nose. They promptly slid down again as he dodged around some books. “Let me take your coat.”
The female Opossum moved to the stove and put on the kettle. “You’re soaked, poor thing! What sort of tea would warm you up?”
Surprised, I grunted, “Ginger,” and went to change clothes.
When I came out, the female interloper handed me a mug of steaming tea.
“I’m Cordelia.” She held out her right forepaw.
“I am Reginald.” I sat and sipped the tea. “Will you not sit?” I gestured at the other chair.
She warmed both forepaws around a mug of tea, studying me with bright eyes. “I know who you are. Rowan has told me so much about you.”
“Ah he has, has he? Where did he go, anyway?”
“He said he had to go collect some things.”
“In this rain?” I realized later of course, that the rascal had done it on purpose.
Cordelia and I talked for hours that afternoon, something that had never happened with anyone outside of my academic circles. She loved learning, and while her primary occupation was overseeing the work in the fields and greenhouses, she was able to add great insight on a topic that was currently causing me much distress. Rowan contrived to not come back at all, something I normally would have scolded him for, but at the time, I never noticed.
We continued meeting each afternoon for tea for several days until the rain let up and she had to get back to the spring planting. When she left for the fields, I found myself feeling lonely and distracted, thinking of conversations and laughter we had shared, or of the way she tilted her head when she was thinking about something.
Two days passed and I strolled out to the fields to see how she was faring. I had never enjoyed the company of another Opossum, or any other being for that matter, quite as much as I enjoyed hers.
I was quite satisfied with Cordelia’s company and our pleasant visits for a matter of months. I knew some were whispering about our relationship, butI considered myself above caring what anyone thought of us. Cordelia was too good a conversationalist to give up because of rumors.
Then one day, Cordelia called on me.
It was not our usual day to meet, but I invited her in and put on the kettle for tea. She was wearing a blue blouse that set off her cream colored fur to a great advantage. I could not help but notice the front of her shirt was wrinkled from her wringing her hands in it as she was doing even then as she took her usual chair.
I have not made much study of emotions, but even I could tell something was bothering her and I was surprised at how concerned I was that something upset someone as lovely as Cordelia.
I served her tea and waited, not sure how to ask what was bothering her.
She ignored the tea and looked me in the eye. “Reginald, in the past few months I’ve become very aware of two things. First, I am very fond of you. Second, you are dense as a brick.”
I found myself thrilling at the first statement, a sensation I never expected to personally feel, and it confounded me so much I barely heard her second statement.
“And so after much thought, I’ve determined that if we are to move forward, then I’m going to have to be very direct.”
I was still focused on the fact she liked me, so I was unprepared for what she said next.
“Reginald, I find that I am in love with you and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way if you’ll give yourself time for it to occur to you. And so, I think we should get married.”
No one was more surprised than I when I realized—in that moment—there was nothing I wanted more.
Want to read more stories for this collection as they’re posted? Follow the links to the other writers blogs below…