Copyright Mark Christopher Garrett 2022
Sitting alone in a small bistro in New Orleans a young soldier sits and ponders the
Rest of his life. . . the bell on the shoppe door chimes it’s tune and in steps the most beautiful young lady that he has ever set eyes upon.
As she walks past him holding a basket she nods and smiles on her way to a table in the corner, Upon taking her seat her friend turns and asks why such a long face soldier? We just received orders for deployment and everyone was exchanging addresses with their friends and families when I realized I had no one to write home to, no one here to care. With that thought he fell into his contemplative silence once again. . .
After a peaceful respit of coffee and scones they realize how late it is and get up to continue with their morning, as they go to pass the lieutenant once again he stands and politely asks permission to write while he is overseas at war? It was agreed that it would be an honor to correspond with him while he is away. . .
To whom may I address the letter?
The name is Florentine. . .
As they were leaving, they hear a voice asking them to wait a moment
Ma’am, You forgot your basket, he said as he handed over the basket. Time stood still in that brief second of time as they stood there locked in the depths of each others eyes.
With a twinkle in her step she checked the mail and as she turned onto the path leading up to the house, the maid was opening the door for the other three sisters and as they met them on the steps. . .
they said “Oh there you both are, we were going to do some shopping”
as all four sisters headed out she heard, “You won’t believe what happened today, I just have to tell you about my morning”. . . While walking along they were told all about the soldier. I don’t think he will ever really write, but he looked so sad that I couldn’t say no!
We have news as well. . . we received an invitation from the Art Society for their annual ball where I am sure I will meet the man of my dreams. . . so will you, not some fictitious Soldier.
He won’t write anyway, and I plan on enjoying my life, here and now! . . . Shall we. . .
Six Months Later -
On Ava’s way home from the local bistro she stops and checks the mail as per usual, but today as she goes to hand it off she notices a letter Addressed to Miss Florentine. . .
She stops picks it out and hands the rest to the maid telling her to deliver the rest of the mail.
Then she goes to find Miss Florentine. . .as she holds the letter in her hands she remembers the sad face on that soldier and how alone he is in this world and how he made her twinkle inside and out everytime she allowed herself a moment and saw once again the smile, and the laughter that showed in his kind and gentle eyes as he had handed her the basket.
Mistress Florentine a letter has come for you.
Who is it from
The soldier we met in the bistro, she replied as she handed over the letter and walks away dreaming of the what if. What if it had been addressed to her Ava instead of the beautiful mistress Florentine
Ava pauses behind the doorway as Miss Florentine opens the letter from her soldier and reads about his hopes for a future and dreams of a small house on a river bank, then she gets to the line where he asks if she will write him back and she calls her sisters in the room for a conference. . . all standing around laughing at her, asking what did she plan on doing now. . . she had only just started to be courted regularly by an unnamed beau they reminded her. . . and what would he think if he found out she was corresponding with another man? So with that she decided to toss the letter in the waste basket. . . Ava stood frozen in place! Oh how could they be so careless with a young mans life? Ava went to the basket and retrieved the letter, after she finished reading knew she at least had to respond and let him know that someone somewhere did care. . . . so she wrote back and told him he was not alone, for she was here.
They wrote each other often, he of what he was doing each day and signing each letter Your Lieutenant, she of her dreams and how she had always wanted to see the mountains, because she did not wish to deceive him she left all her letters unsigned. . .
After a few years of telling each other all their darkest deepest wishes and dreams Ava suddenly stopped receiving letters from her Lieutenant. . . Months went by and having fallen into a deep depression, contemplating the worst had befallen her lieutenant she was taken to bed with an unknown ailment, as fear and devastation cloud the heart up stairs, a storm is brewing down stairs in the study. . .
Now see hear youngman, you say you are here to ask me for my daughter’s hand in marriage!
But you cant tell me her name and your description does not match any of my four lovely daughters. . .
Ahh, here is one of my daughters now mayhap she can help clear up this matter.
Darling Daughter of mine come here please, tell me, do you know this young man?
No Papa, may I ask what all this is about?
When the Lieutenant finishes his story once again he assures the father that this daughter was not the daughter he had met that day. . .
Before he had a chance to say more two more of the daughters came into the room. You wished to see us Papa! Yes come girls have a seat, this gentleman here is under the impression that he has been writing to one of you and is going to marry you.
With a startled look on both of their faces they both looked at their papa and said Not I, or I. Now tell us from the start what is going on and why would you think it was one of us?
Again the lieutenant tells his tail of the fateful day in the little bistro, and all the letters to and from ever since. The two sisters look at each other and then look at the lieutenant and state they are not the correct sister but she would be here shortly. They then proceed to tell their father about the day she came home and told them all about it and how she had received a letter but they knew nothing had come of it or so they had believed.
The father was quite distressed by this time for the only daughter that remained unaccounted for was also his only daughter who was betrothed to be married already and he could not fathom that she would be so deceitful and cruel as to pledge her love and life to one man while leading on another. . .
Just when he can no longer bear the thought of his beloved child’s disgrace she come gliding into the study a bright smile upon her shining face, as she turns to her father she notices a soldier in the room staring at her as if she has horns or some such monstrocity. The soldier turns to he father and asks where the fifth daughter is if she is his fourth because this is not the young lady of his memories nor of his dreams. . .
The father starts to get irate with the young man when his fourth daughter speaks up and asks the soldier to tell her what he means. . . and as the soldier once again tells his story she realizes what had happened. . .
He’d had eyes only for the young lady carrying the basket, the fact that everytime he had spoken the daughter had had to answer had been over looked as he was spellbound, he never noticed that she was as spell bound as he and had not spoke a single word.
In the daughters arrogance she assumed that he had spoken to her when in fact it had been Ava to whom he had spoken to. I think I know who you are looking for. I know you have been waiting a while but I know this will all be worth it.
Sisters of mine come with me. . .
They met at the top of the stairs where she let them in on her plans. . .
She went and knocked on Ava’s door,
Heah sleepy head how are you feeling? Get up and take a stroll with me through the gardens it is beautiful outside to day come you must I am dying to tell you something and I can not divulge of such information in such a dreary room so come lets go outside. . .as she was sitting up in bed another knock on the door . . .
Oh Good Morning your up! Lets all go out side for a picnic and a stroll through the fresh air I’ll go get the picnic put together. . .see you down stairs!
She had just sat down to brush out her hair when knock knock knock at the door. . . Oh marvelous said the two youngest sisters I can help you get dressed and she can dress your hair, I heard you agreed to have a picnic with us out side i am so glad it is such a beautiful day for it and you have been in this room for way to long.
I know, I feel rather lost and I am unsure what to do about it!
Well come along with us today I am sure you are going to find enough answers to last a life time.
As they strolled the gardens basket in hand she couldn’t help but remember telling her lieutenant about the gardens and the different flowers in bloom through out the many times of year sometimes pressing them so he could smell them too where ever he may be. . . . her favorite spot in the whole garden was an alcove of trees near a lake edge that had grass all the way to rock rim of the lake where a single rock formed a very large round stone seat. One would have thought it was man made instead of happenstance.
As she made her way down the path, she suddenly found herself asking how today had come to pass. . . last she remembered she was laying in bed not feeling well when four sisters had joyously invited her to join them for a picnic in the garden on the stone and as she doesn’t remember agreeing she knows she must have for why else would she be leading the pack down the single file footpath to the Stone Seat and how had she ended up being the one toating the basket of picnic supplies? She always ended up toating their baskets. She was going to be asking as soon as they cleared the path and they couldn’t escape. As she rounded the last tree and the great stone seat opened up before her she froze.
He saw his dream of dreams coming down the stone path from the house fully lit by the most radiant sun, making her hair glow as if she were an angel. Yes it was indeed her, more beautiful than he remembered carrying a picnic basket.
As she noticed a soldier standing ramrod straight in the center of the stone holding a bouquet of wild roses,
Realizing she had frozen in place set the basket on the ground and walked up to the soldier and and looked into his eyes once again as tears rolled unabashed down both of their cheeks she smiles and asked shyly Are you My Lieutenant?
And in reply he answered Yes I am Your Lieutenant, I came to ask your father er Uncle for permission to marry you and after hearing our story he said the choice shall be entirely yours and that I have his full blessing.
May I ask my love What your name is
My name is Ava Terra
Miss Ava Terra will you be my wife, I got us a real nice home on a river where you can see the mountains
And we can start our own life with all the gardens you’ll ever want!