Fosca strides, purpose in every step, through the marketplace the only thought on her mind was her husband Count Ludwick of Austria. Dinner had to be cooked, fire’s had to be stoked, rooms cleaned all before he returned from his very necessary trip. One item was left on her list, Veal; Ludwick's favorite. As she approached the stall of the butcher she guards her heart. ‘A woman is a flower…’
“Hello, Good sir.” She greets a smile on her lips. She watches as he rears slightly back something she thought she would be used to by now. “I would like some of your best veal, please.” She requests her smile wavers as she watches his assistants staring at her face.After a moment she reaches into her purse removing a small amount of money she moves to hand it to him.
“O-oh of course signore, of course.” The butcher finally answers. He turns and shouts at the young boys to get the veal cut and wrapped for her. “I-It will be ready, soon.”
“Thank ...you.” Fosca watches as he quickly turned towards the next customers. Noticing the whispers from behind her she moved to the side not wanting to get in the way of the next customer. She stares ahead at a tree, not looking to her sides or even at the ground, the whispers continuing behind her their eyes burning into her back, their whispers getting louder as she stares harder at the tree taking in the branches and the leaves, she sees a bird sitting on one of the branches. She watches as it cleans it beak and ruffles its feathers and suddenly it takes flight soaring through the air till it disappears.
“Signore?” Small voice calls.
Fosca looks down to see a small child holding a white package towards her. Her thoughts go back to the bird how it seemed so free of restrictions. So alive so free to change as it leaped to new heights. As she watches the child standing before staring into her face the whispers seem to rise in volume as the stares seem to grow in strength as she looks into his face.
‘A woman is a flower…’
“Thank you,” Fosca whispers to the child a smile crossed her face as the boy blushed. She reaches into her purse pulling out a small coin she hands it to him. “Have a lovely evening.” She turns towards her carriage. She hears the boy yelp of excitement and the rise of the whispers again, this time uncaring as she remembers why she ventured out today to make her handsome, loving husband’s favorite meal.
Once home she hurries about making the preparations for dinner. Memories of her parents floating through her mind, her father's indulgent smile, her mother’s loving gaze as she helped the cook make supper. With a smile she made the broth for the soup, thinking back to Ludwick’s reaction when he was told she had made the broth herself. He's sweet compliments raining down over her as he held her hand. She watched the veal roast in the oven thinking about Ludwick’s multiple trips none of which had been successful in earning him any money, yet. With a sigh she thought of their coiffures running low worried she would have to ask her father for another loan. As she continued to ponder about their funds a knock was heard from the servant door. With a deep breath and growing fear approaches it not sure who it could be, she opens it to see her cousin Frederick standing in the entryway.
“Frederick!” she gasps “What are you doing here? I thought you were off training with your battalion.”
“We stopped in town for a few days!” He informs pulling her in for a hug. “I wanted to check on you and Ludwick to see how he has been treating you.”
“Why use the servant entrance?”
“To give you a fright, why else!?”
“Oh, Frederick!” She exclaims slapping his shoulder. The worries of the day seem to fade in the light of her cousin who feels more like a brother since her parents took him in.
“Where is he? I want to surprise him as well.” He questions.
“Oh...Well, Ludwick had to leave on urgent business, he will be returning today. I’m cooking one of his favorite meal to welcome him.”
“Ah, so he is neglecting you,” Fredricks states grabbing one of the buns as he takes a seat.
“No!” Fosca yelps startling both herself and her cousin. “I mean that he has very urgent business he needs to attend to so he needs to leave... weekly. For long periods of time and without a word because he’s busy.”
“So’s he’s not neglecting you?”
“No, He loves me.”
“Yet, He’s never home.”
“What is your Battalion doing?” She asks switching topics as she slides into the seat opposite him with a bright smile not reaching her eyes.
With a sigh, Frederick goes into a colorful recount of his battalion duties and functions describing his sergeants and generals in tasteful yet humorous manner. Fosca listens in a riveted fashion following his tale as though he was telling her the secret to life. Perhaps he was.
“Oh my, look at the time! You should head back wouldn’t want your general coming after you.” Fosca chides.
“Ha, like he would take the time. I must come to you again! I’ll bring some of my friends and we will regale you with stories!”
“Oh, come tomorrow evening by than Ludwick would be rested and he will want to see you again,” Fosca suggest.
They both rise and head for the servant's entrance with a nod Fredrick’s agrees, stopping before the door he hugs her once more whispering into her hair. “No matter what I will be here for you, Cousin.”
“Thank you, Frederick, I will see you tomorrow.” As she shuts the door behind him she looks again at the clock two hours till he gets here. Two hours….
She goes about cleaning the house. There isn’t much to clean since it’s only her, mostly. She let the servants go months ago. No point in paying them to serve one and it saved her a great amount of money. She set the table, brought out the wine, set the food out and fussed over the candles. Looking at the clock again she notes the time. One hour till he arrives. One hour…..
She heads upstairs to get dressed she chooses her gold dress the one she wore the first time they meet. Fixed her hair in a simple braid with a gold ribbon on the end. Looking into the mirror she tried not to stare she knew she wasn't beautiful but...she was loved. Lightly powdering her cheeks and biting her lips she looks towards the clock. Twenty minutes till he returns. Twenty minutes….
She heads to the foyer fussing around the room while anxiously watching the street through the window. Wondering how her husband would greet her how he would rush in tired and sleepy till he looked into her eyes, then quickly sweeping her up into his arms promising to stay and finally...kiss her. He would tell her about his day talk about how he misses her and he’ll finally get a job close to home because he can’t bear to be away from her. Then they will eat he’ll praise her cooking and take her hand and lead her to the bedroom and..and….from the street she hears a carriage stop in front of her house she watches as her husband climbs down a smile grew on her face. She rushes towards the entryway fixing her hair in what she hoped would be seductive. The door opens and in he walks carrying a small bag he shuts the door behind him.
“Welcome home, husband.” She greets walking forward she helped him remove his coat and hold his bag. “The parlor is ready if you want to rest before supper.” She informs putting his jacket into the closet she notices a paper sticking out of the inner pocket. She takes it out and looks it over; it’s a gambling card stating that someone named Raphael was in debt by thousands of pounds. She smiled thinking how kind her husband was to take on a friend’s problem. When a thought floats into her mind and takes root; ‘He never introduced any of his friends to me’ . She shoved the note into his coat turning she followed him into the parlor.
“How was your trip?” She questions taking a seat to his side. Picking up her unfinished needlework she went to work waiting for him to answer.
“It was...Business. Not much to talk about I’m afraid.” He answers puffing on his pipe. His eyes focusing on the wall ahead of him. Silence fell over them Fosca wondered what was going through his mind as they sat together.
“It would be nice to have something to tell my parents.” She reasons continuing her needlework.
“Father keeps asking if you would like to work in the factory-” She stops as Ludwick stands.
“I’m tried, Fosca, Can we...Not tonight, my dear?” He throws over his shoulder heading towards the doors.
“What about dinner!?” Fosca calls after him. Worried she had offended him with talk of work, again. While her family paid her dowry and helped them get their home he had yet to return any of it.Why did he marry her if he didn’t plan to grow with her!? Why?! ‘ Don’t asks questions...He chose you.’
“Save my plate, I’ll eat later.” He answers she knows that means that she would eat alone, if at all. His footsteps could be heard going up the stairs signaling to Fosca, again, that their talk was over. Fosca swallows her tears thinking that again she would spend the night with only her tears and a good romance novella. She puts her needlework away as she moves to blow out the candles and close the curtains. She silently moves to the kitchen each step resounding in her heart highlighting her loneliness, her pain. ‘He chooses you! Love will come, eventually….’ Her mantra playing on repeat in her head as she cleared the dinner room and put out the lights, placing the salvageable food in the ice box. Her mind unable to come to terms with her life’s currents path. Thinking back to the many romances she had read the multiple tropes and tragedies the numerous endings she had memorized she thought she had it figured out that she had found a loophole for someone ugly, someone who was less fortunate, someone who didn’t deserve love. She ascends the stairs carrying a small lantern a small sliver of hope still floating in her mind. ‘Love will come, eventually….’ She comes to his room staring at it she wondered why it felt like more than this wood door that separated them. She touches the cold wood remembering their wedding night, his warm touch, A fire in her belly, a moment where everything was bright and colorful when she swore he loved her.
“I forgot to tell you my cousin is in town, visiting, he will be here tomorrow evening to see you.” She calls hoping that her words would reach him.
“I will be here.” His answer muffled by the door. She smiles he stills cares she thinks he will be here for me.