Chapter 1 - Ellen
Ellen Mackenzie Fraser had always been an artist. As far back as she could remember her head was in the clouds creating new colors, mentally mixing paint. Long walks across the MacKenzie lands filled her imagination with landscapes seen and unseen that she would rediscover on the canvas.
When she told her Mam that she wanted to be an artist, she was met with resistance. It was not a respectable job for a woman and how would she support herself? her mother had said. Her mother told her it would be best to find a suitable husband and keep her hobby quiet, not wanting anyone to think she was “weird.” Trusting that her mother had her best interest at heart and respecting her as an authority figure, she painted in secret. Ellen scraped together money from doing chores and odd jobs around the town to get money for paints. Her works were hidden away along with a major part of herself for most of her young life.
When she began to date, her secret stayed in the back of that dark closet of self that she dared not show anyone. Until, one day, her dear friend Murtagh brought his cousin to town for the summer. He was a Fraser from several hours away. Dark haired with a kind face, she trusted him instantly. A group of them hung around together all summer. It wasn’t long before Brian and Ellen had splintered off to spend more time together, alone, realizing that they were silently smitten with each other.
Walking in the hills towards the end of the summer, Ellen gained the courage to share her secret with the man she was now clearly in love with. Naught but 20 years old, she was already determined to marry Brian. She wanted to share all of her secrets with him. She felt deeply that her secrets would be safe with him and she was right.
“I ken yer leaving at the end of the summer, but I trust ye and I have to share with ye my secret,” Ellen whispered to him walking through the hills.
He grabbed her hand, one of the few times he had in their short acquaintance, and chills danced through her blood vessels.
“I’d be honored to ken yer secret,” he said drawing their joined hands to his heart.
Ellen almost lost her nerve at the tenderness he displayed towards her. Overwhelmed, her words danced on the recesses of her tongue, deciding whether or not to come out.
“I’m an artist and I want to continue to be an artist. My Mam said that I shouldna ever tell anyone...that being an artist isn’t respectable. She said that I’d never find a husband, but I don’t care. It’s who I am, ye ken, and I needed ye to know.”
“Oh Elle, that is no a bother to me. I ken how ye look at the world and describe it, it makes sense to me. Can I see yer work?” Brian said encouraging her and supporting her with his gentle tone.
A smile of a thousand suns of the universe spread across her face. She pulled him along to a secret cave at the edge of the property where she spent hours painting. Sometimes she would paint by the light of day when the weather was good, using the natural light to inform the color. Other times she would create by candlelight inside the cave when the rain was fierce.
Brian’s mouth hung agape looking around the cave filled with varying sized canvases. Each canvas colored with shapes, designs, still life, portraits and abstractions. So many questions hung in his mind as he slowly walked around the space. Ellen stood at the entrance, nervously watching the first person to ever see her art (besides her). That particular moment in time would be etched into the deepest caverns of her mind for the duration of her life. It was simply beautiful.
“Ellen...t’is incredible, how...when...I am overwhelmed by yer talent,” he barely got out.
“Truly, ye think so?” she responded in disbelief.
“Oh aye! Ye need to sell these! Or show them, or whatever ye ken it is artists do to get their work out into the world. These works should no be in a cave in the Highlands all alone with no one to look at them,” he said with the seriousness of someone who supported her and wanted to champion her.
Not giving it a second thought, she ran to him and threw her arms around him in a bear hug. His breath hitched and his arms came to surround her, his head resting into the crook of her neck. He tried not to be too obvious, but he couldn’t resist inhaling her scent.
“Are ye sniffing me?” she asked still locked in his embrace. Feeling him shift and tense, she thought for the first time that maybe his feelings for her were in fact mirrored by her own.
He pulled back from her and shrugged his shoulders, why lie, he had been inhaling her.
“Maaaaybe...Elle...what ye said about no caring about a husband...do ye no want to get married or do ye just want to be an artist more?”
“I want to be an artist more. I dinna want to have to ignore that part of myself anymore. I canna and if that means my Mam is right, then so be it.”
“Can I share a secret with ye now?” He asked as a rising blush found it’s way to Ellen’s face while she nodded her head yes.
“I dinna want to be parted from ye...ever...maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but I want ye to be my wife. I want to support ye, and yer art and whatever we can make together.”
Speechless at first, breath coming short, a realization settled over Ellen.
“Are ye...are ye proposing to me?”
“Um...weell...I guess I am, but more like a pre-proposal. I’ve still two years of university but I want a life with ye, I’m sure of that.”
A single tear fell down Ellen’s cheek as she joined their hands and brought her lips to his for the first time, sealing their fate together.
Thanks for reading!
(Chapter 2 will be out in a bout 10 minutes)