The Kensington Swan
Saturday night saw the rain pouring down loudly and heavily and as the clock ticked on he started to worry that she might not make it for the date. She was already reluctant to begin with, and any excuse especially something like the weather would seem to her as an opportunity to get out of it. He had tried so hard to get her to agree to come, after all Mrs.Barnes the housekeeper had already begun preparing the scrumptious meal and her daughter Amelia had set the table and lit the scented candles in anticipation. They were all excited for him, that he should finally have a date.
And when the time drew near, Mrs.Barnes drew him his warm bath, and put in it the scented lavender oil to calm his dear nerves. She placed the white shirt she had carefully ironed on the corner of his bed next to the wool pants she had just draped along the foot of the bed. She had watched the dear man grow up. Took care of him from when he was a baby, and when Mr and Mrs Kensington, his parents passed away, together in an accident, at quite a young age she took on the responsibility of being housekeeper to their dear son, who was only fresh at 17. She often felt indebted to the Kensingtons, after all they have been the ones who took her and her dear Amelia in after Mr.Barnes disappeared in that expedition. So young Mr.Kensington she carefully and loyally served.
He grew up to be a fine young chap in all ways but his looks. He had been unfortunate to have been born without good looks. He was undashing, ugly if one may dare say. His facial features were so close together that his face looks as if it had collapsed into the middle. And his nose was flat and skewed, with the right nostril bigger than the left. His forehead was sloped upwards to a bump just below his very high hairline. If that were not bad enough he suffered a bad case of psoriasis that caused his skin to scale and flake shedding pieces of dead skin as he walked. Some said he was paying the dues that the generations of Kensingtons owed to the country. The millions that they had swindled, and the good lives of many they had ruined.
He stepped out of his bath and dried himself before slipping on that luscious robe. The sale of the Kensington casino his parents left him had bought him a lifetime of luxury. But the man was far from lazy and he worked day and night on his endless inventions that have earned him his professorship at a young age. He had the intelligence of the Kensingtons, and he put it to good use too. So it was unfortunate that he was ugly. Unfortunate indeed. He dressed himself and combed his hair without looking at his face in the mirror. His own face made him weak in the knees and filled him with a deep sense of knowing that she would not come. She would not and he knew it.
He slipped on his watch and looked at the time. Ten to seven. He unbuttoned his shirt again and slipped it off only to slip it back on again. He felt foolish dressing up and getting all excited for nothing really. Nothing. He slipped it off again and slid his pants off. He slided in between his clean warm sheets and lay there for a while. He closed his eyes and waited for the clock to strike seven. His heart began to beat a million beats a second and he could hear its thumping loud and clear. He hated that he felt weak this way. Foolish, and defeated. He could not help but hope she would come. Hope. He got up at the sound of the chimes and dressed. He re-combed his hair and was a neat sleek man by the time he was ready.
He lit the fire in the lounge and sat on his armchair to read his book, in a half-hearted, excited manner jumping up from his seat at every sound his ears picked up. Mrs.Barnes and Amelia sat in the kitchen and crossed their fingers waiting as the ran continued to pour. Amelia began to pray out loud for her heart went out to dear Mr.Kensington who had always looked out for her. Please do not let him be disappointed, oh will he be disappointed mother? She asked. Mrs.Barnes shook her head, no the good Lord will not let a good man down. She hoped not anyway.
When the clock struck eight their hopes wore thin and he stormed into the kitchen and began blowing out the candles as hot tears welled up in his eyes. Mrs.Barnes urged him to wait a minute or two more but he had already given up hope. He had been waiting his whole life, he said. It was time he moved on. Yes dear Mr.Kensington had been waiting for love the whole 40 years of his life now. 40 whole years. Mrs.Barnes’ heart sank when she heard him say 40 whole years and her heart filled immediately with an intense sort of sadness for the man and she began to clear the table. It was not fair was it now? Did he not deserve to love, or be loved?
The world however was a cruel place indeed, and somebody who was ugly like him, the world would not forgive. If it did not forgive ugliness, how then could he expect it to shower him with love?
He slumped onto his armchair by the fire after blowing out the last candle and opened his book. A sort of limp sadness hung about. The sort that resembles a hurt whimpering puppy that had just been beaten, struck down and abandoned. A whimpering puppy that had just lost all hope in humans. The sadness melted over them three and the mother and daughter began cleaning up in the kitchen ever so quietly. Disappointment in the world need not be articulated, neither was there to articulate that deep sense of disappointment in God.
He slumped deeper and absorbed the words on his book just to get lost in it. He sighed out loud getting ready to admit his defeat to the world. The cruel world. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth as if to surrender and admit his defeat, he should give up hope and let the world win. No ugly man should be loved. He sighed deeply and before he whispered the words that would let the last of his hope slip into thin air, the doorbell rang, a cheerful ring and the limp sadness broke, first in the kitchen. And Mrs.Barnes, who was saying her prayers ever so fervently in the kitchen for her dear master sprung up and ran to the door to open it. And there she was, drenched from the rain chirped. So sorry I am late, I had to trudge through the rain.
And the limp sadness broke in the lounge and he put down his book and smiled a secret victory smile at the cruel cruel world, for he had won. He had won. She who he thought would not come trudged through the rain to meet him.
He got up to greet her and she smiled.
And the limp sadness broke in his heart
Sorry I am late, she said and he smiled back at her, a victorious smile indeed.