It was a rather active morning that Saturday in the well to do London neighborhood of Spitalfields. The sun finally peeked through the clouds for what seemed like the first time that year and thawed the last of the winter's snow. Many residents emerged from their homes to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin. Children were running through the streets playing, filling the alleys with laughter and heavy footsteps clamoring against the cobblestone streets as they chased footballs, skipped rope, and played hopscotch. The older residents were perfectly content to enjoy the weather in less active ways, many choosing to go for a stroll and smell the flowers that we're already blooming.
This, unfortunately all went unappreciated to one Patience Mount who was in severe danger of missing her train, the woman looking out at the world through the back of a taxi window while she anxiously chewed on her nails.
Patsy felt delicate fingers on her wrist push her hand away from her mouth, and she looked over to see her dear friend, the ever so beautifully blonde haired blue eyed Trixie Franklin, shaking her head and tutting disapprovingly.
'None of that now,’ she scolded, 'you'll ruin the varnish. Such a lovely color on you, too.’
Patsy had recruited Trixie to accompany her to the station, thinking of no one better to see her off than her longest and dearest friend of nearly a decade. This turned out to be a ghastly mistake as the chatty woman had only belabored her departure, insisting on throwing her a going away party until all hours of the morning and then staying in for brunch and making an absolute fuss that she was even leaving for the entire season in the first place!
But it was too late. Everything was booked and the money was spent and above all, Patsy was actually looking forward to going to where she was going. Springtime in the quiet countryside was exactly what she needed after all she had been through the past few months.
Patsy let out a sigh of relief as the cab came to a screeching halt in front of the station, and she practically jumped out before the driver could even put the car in park.
She hitched her purse over her shoulder and situated her floppy hat firm on her head, rounding the cab and impatiently banging on the boot so the driver would pop it open, and when he did she reached in and grabbed her own luggage while Trixie paid the man.
Patsy handed Trixie a smaller suitcase with her clothing and makeup while she pulled out a second, particularly large and heavy suitcase from the boot before closing the thing shut, using all her might and effort to heave the larger suitcase off the ground and carry it up the steps and into the station as the taxi they came in speed off.
Trixie sighed despondently as she walked quickly alongside Patsy. The heels worn by the two women clacked noisily under their feet, the acoustics of the vast train station only amplifying the echo of their footsteps as they made a beeline for the ticket counter.
'Are you sure you need to leave so soon?’ Trixie pleaded, ignoring the look she was getting from her redheaded companion, ‘You've only just returned from Hong Kong and I feel like I've barely been able to spend any time with you at all since you've been back.’
Patsy approached the counter and placed the cumbersome suitcase down at her feet, shuffling through her pocketbook as she addressed the gentleman at the ticket counter.
‘Picking up for Patience Mount to Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, please. First class.’
'Pats…’ Trixie pleaded with a sad sigh.
'Trixie,’ Patsy turned to her friend with a stern tone to her voice, fluffing out her dress around her knees. It had become little disheveled by their jaunt from the cab, 'you very well know that my father's dying wish was for me to review and publish his memoirs,’ she sighed a little disappointedly, ‘While it isn't the most exciting thing, it's something to do while I'm having a bit of lag of creativity in my own work’.
Patsy was a writer by trade, having made her living writing a series of fictional novels for adults called Spitfires of Spitalfields. It was a dramatic reflection of her own experiences as a lesbian socialite in London, her characters loosely based on her past loves and relationships, with the names and appearances changed of course. Her novels were well reviewed but chalked up to nothing more than trashy beach reads in her mind, and she was disappointed in herself for being almost 30 years of age and not achieving the literary fame of Austen or Bronte or Wolf.
As of late, something recently had been calling to her to try her hand at writing something else, for another audience, another genre possibly, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what that might be. It was all very well and good as the motivation nor the inspiration to write anything had come to her for several months. She had been busy traveling to Hong Kong and seeing her father out of this world, her last blood relation gone forever. While the thought of being the last Mount left alive weighed heavily in her heart, she didn't let it get in the way of her moving on and living her life. She had vowed to pour her heart and soul into seeing out his last wish and she was determined to get it done by the end of this summer.
'Not to worry Pats,’ Trixie said sympathetically, 'you're always so clever with your stories. I'm sure lightning will strike!’
Patsy merely grunted disapprovingly.
'I still don't understand why you have to go off to Pembrokeshire,’ Trixie complained.
'Why ever not?’ Patsy asked as she handed over some money to pay for her ticket, 'this inn was recommended to me by Barbara you know. She gave it a grand review!’
'Oh,’ Trixie bristled, ‘Silly Barbara,’ she said under her breath before she looked to Patsy once more, 'Why not just stay in London, Pats? Or go where other artists go? Paris? New York?’
'Oh, you only want me to go to one of those cities so you have an excuse to come and visit,’ Patsy chided, giving her friend a playful side eye.
'So?’ Trixie exclaimed, 'Wouldn't it be marvelous to spend the spring and summer in New York?’ Trixie sighed dreamily, ‘living in an open studio somewhere trendy like Soho, drinking coffee all day, writing, discussing art and politics and literature with other artists and and listening to poetry and music all night…,’ she trailed off wistfully.
'As wonderful as that sounds Trixie, if that were the case then I would never get any work done! Too tempting to goof off,’ she huffed, tapping her fingers on the counter impatiently while the man took his sweet time getting her change and putting the necessary stamps on her ticket.
Trixie grunted and shuffled one of Patsy's bags she was holding from one hand to the other, 'Why Wales? There's nothing out there!’
‘Precisely!’ Patsy exclaimed.ed with a knowing smile, 'I don't want any distractions. Besides, all this traveling will give me time to think anyway.’
'You just spent six whole weeks on a boat back from Hong Kong! That wasn't enough time to think?’
Patsy grumbled, 'Trixie, you should very well know by now that the creative mind is a fickle thing.’
'Besides, I was rather distracted as I was in mourning,’ Patsy raised an eyebrow to her friend and watched as Trixie's mouth clamped shut, an apologetic look crossing her features.
Their conversation was interrupted by the shrill cry of the train whistle blowing steam high into the air, the booming voice of a guard shouting 'All aboard!’ carrying through the station.
‘Oh dear,’ Patsy said as she turned back to the counter.
'You better get a move on, miss,’ the gentleman behind the counter said as he handed over Patsy's ticket, 'that's the last one out to where you're going today.’
'Yes, I've gathered,’ Patsy replied smartly as she snatched her ticket away from him. She was in such a rush that she began to run out to the platform leaving all her things and Trixie behind.
'Hey, you numpty!’
‘Oh!’ Patsy halted in her tracks, her skirt fluttering around her knees. She turned around to see Trixie struggling to pick up her rather large and bulky suitcase.
'Good grief, Pat's!’ Trixie groaned through clenched teeth, 'what on Earth do you have in there? Lead?’
Patsy laughed, 'My typewriter of course, silly!’
Patsy huffed slightly as she heaved the heavy suitcase up off the ground and trotted as quickly as she could out to the platform where the train was slowly starting to roll forward. Trixie was hot on her heels flowing close behind with Patsy's other, much lighter suitcase.
Patsy heaved her typewriter onto the step of one of the doorways, a coach hand appearing to take it to the back carriage for her.
She turned back to Trixie, pausing momentarily to give her a kiss on both cheeks.
'So long, darling,’ she said giving the blondes arm a reassuring squeeze.
'You better write to me, Patience Mount,’ Trixie said sternly as she pulled away, and Patsy smiled.
'Of course! It's what I do!’
Patsy turned and trotted slightly along with the rolling train as it was picking up speed. She grasped onto the railing and stepped up, turning back to Trixie who was close behind. Patsy reached for her as Trixie handed her the rest of her things.
'Send Barbara my love!’ Patsy called out to her hanging out the door of the carriage and waiving.
'I will… Oh! Pats! What should I say to Missy?’ Trixie asked, shouting over the sound of the gears clacking noisily as the train picked up speed.
'Oh, is that woman still calling on me?’ Patsy rolled her eyes as her mind flashed back momentarily to the brief two week fling she had with a particularly attractive woman she ran into at The Gateways but realized they were much too I'll suited for anything more than a good romp in the sheets every so often.
She reached up to place her hand on her floppy hat to keep it from flying away, 'I ended things with her ages ago!’
'She doesn't think so!’ Trixie exclaimed.
‘Well make something up!’ she shouted, unable to keep the smile from appearing on her face as her skirt flitted around her knees and her hair tickled her cheeks from the wind.
'Like what!’ Trixie asked, coming to a halt as she finally reached the end of the platform.
Patsy shrugged, ‘Tell her I've launched myself out of a rocket to the Moon, never to return!’
'You can't just run away from your problems, you know!’ Trixie exclaimed exasperated at the antics of her friend, placing her hands on her hips.
‘Sure I can! Look at me go!’ Patsy shouted and grinned as Trixie grew smaller and smaller, happy to see she finally managed to get the blonde to crack a smile.
She blew her friend a kiss and watched as Trixie pulled out a lace handkerchief and waved it in return, the blaring of the trains whistle billowing through the station once more, ceasing any further conversation.
Patsy smiled as she finally tucked into her carriage, thinking that for once she was looking forward to spending a quiet spring and summer gone and away from the nuances of life among the other upper class socialites of London, finally being able to focus solely for once on her writing and not worry about who was throwing what party and what to wear and how to speak and to whom. Rubbing elbows with the right people was all well and good when you needed something but after the winter she had had, Patsy was exhausted and just wanted to be away from it all.
Yes, a nice quiet season in the country was what she needed. No worries. No distractions.
More importantly no girls like Missy calling after her either.
Patsy shook her head, musing to herself that she narrowly avoided a disaster with that one.
She sighed and leaned back in her seat, her eyes growing heavy as the buildings of the city turned to the charming brick row homes of the outskirts and then to the hills and trees of the country. The rocking of the carriage and rhythmic thrum of the wheels on the track churning along began to lure Patsy to sleep.
Before she let herself drift off, she grazed a finger along a gold chain that hung around her neck. She pulled out the ring that hung from it, immediately missing the weight against her chest. It was a new sensation for Patsy as she typically never wore something so precious for such a long period of time, but she couldn't bring herself to take it off. It was a simple golden band, and one of the few items in her father's possession that she took back from Hong Kong with her when he passed, as this was her mother's wedding ring. It was the one piece of evidence she had of her parents love for one another, other than her very existence, of course.
When she found the ring, Patsy remembered the disappointment she felt when she tried it on, as it was much too small for her long fingers. Her mother had been a smaller women, though Patsy had a hard time imagining it since she died when Patsy was merely a child, so the woman always seemed so much taller in Patsy's mind.
Patsy let the ring dangle in front of her, the gold catching the sunlight beautifully and brightly reflecting it as it swayed in front of her in time with the carriage rocking. She brought the ring to her mouth and kissed it, tucking it back under her collar and pressing it gently against her heart.
Deep down she knew it was just a bit of metal, but Patsy pressed it against her heart anyway, thinking that this was really all she had. The mere thought of her mother having once worn this, carried it around with her for so many years, a symbol of her father's love for her when, to her knowledge, when he couldn't convey it otherwise, it all made Patsy feel like she was close to the woman for the first time since she last saw her alive almost 20 years ago.
Patsy sighed and closed her eyes, feeling calm and a little less alone, and finally drifted off to sleep.