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Window Dreams
by Margaret Helmstetter

Catherine sat gazing out the window with a desperate longing that gripped her very soul. Her heart was breaking. The papers on her desk sat piled high while she waited and wondered. How much longer would she sit, waiting for him to keep the promise he made to her years ago?

Her tattered yellow dress rustled lightly as she leaned forward. Was that movement upon the road leading to her house? No - just a deer crossing, so graceful, delicate. Oh, how she longed to be able to join the deer as it flitted across the road. Free to look for him. Free of a promise to wait forever if need be.

Sighing, she forced her eyes away from the beauty outside her window. Her desk piled high with half-written dreams called to her. Sifting through the papers, she slowly sorted them, as she had sorted through them for years. Catherine never left the window, peering out frequently for that shadowy figure to come.

"Portrait Of Brian"
by Paul Regan

A shadow at her window caused her to look up. He had promised to come for her as soon as he could. He swore she would be with him. How many years would she have to wait for him to keep his promise?

Catherine sighed and picked up her pen. Life went on, promises kept or not. She held her pen over the inkpot, a gift from him. She could hear his voice as he told her that before the ink ran out he would be back. The ink was almost gone. The pen in her hand rested back on the table, unused. He still had not returned. Oh, how lonely the days were, sitting and waiting, not daring to leave for fear he would return.

There was one old woman that continued to come, after attempts by others to take her away from her window stopped, bringing Catherine meals and covering her with a blanket as she slept in the wingback chair by the window, understanding her need to wait for the man who could never come.

Taking care of Catherine, as she had taken care of her when she was an infant.

Catherine woke frequently to look for a lone rider. She had been like this since the misty morning a letter arrived, five long and lonely years ago. The letter that told of his death during the Battle of Gettysburg was lying dusty upon her desk.

She had tossed it there, refusing to accept the truth. He had promised to return and she knew he would.

A noise outside, could that be him? The hope that lit her face was sad to see. No, it was just a pair of birds fighting. He had left to fight and he would return soon. The war was over and the South had lost. She really should get the weeds cut; otherwise, he wouldn't be able to find the door. She couldn't risk leaving to find a boy to do the job. He might come while she was gone. Catherine had made a promise to him and she would keep it.

Her thoughts drifted back to the day when he left, so tall and handsome in his gray uniform. She tucked a blue jay feather in his cap, teasing him about plumes for his helmet. Telling him that he should have a white horse, as he mounted the nondescript brown mare.

He had teased her about the yellow dress, telling her it was like a yellow ribbon, a reminder to come back. She could still recall the feel of his lips on hers as he kissed her, a seal upon the promise he made, before he rode off with the promising to return soon.

A book in her lap sat unread, as her gaze drifted time and time again out the window. Catherine could not see the words, could not comprehend anything except the need to wait for him. His promise to return was foremost in her mind. There was sadness and longing written upon her face, etching away at her beauty.

A white horse and rider, coming up the road. Oh, could it be? The rider's gray clothing shone in the bright sunlight, like polished steel. The blue feathers on his hat, fluttering behind like a banner proclaiming his knighthood.

Yes, it was her lover, he had returned. Catherine had waited faithfully and he had come for her. He had kept his promise. She smiled and it was her first genuine smile in five years. Her knight on a white horse had come at last.

With the last of the ink from the inkwell, she penned a note; "He has come for me, at last, my knight..."

When the old woman found Catherine's lifeless body, she wept a tear at the sweet smile of serenity left upon Catherine's face, erasing the years of loneliness. The footprints of a horse tattered the ground outside the window and a single bedraggled blue jay feather left upon the windowsill.

Margaret is a mother, grandmother, and a lover of words. She writes about things that affect her life, and that she feels strongly about. Her writing can be found in many places on the internet, and shortly will be available in print. She is currently working on a children's book series that will be e-published.

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