A Momentary Lapse in Time
The days began to blur as the Ballard house came to life with the breath and heart of Millicent Ballard. No longer was the manor house dim with shadows down the corridors and silence was a little less frequent.
When Millicent found herself in the house, she was sure to play with her brother and sister, and keep the window curtains open to let the light in. The lightness of the air when she was around, was enough to last the rest of the time she spent at the guest house. For the most part, she was able to make excuses going to town to sneak away, but with her mother still believing that the portrait was yet to be finished, that played as a second excuse to go see the man.
William couldn’t help but smile as he took Millicent’s hands in his and twirled her about the empty floor of the drawing room, imagining a ball flourishing around them. Millicent giggled as she turned and stepped, and turned and stepped- all perfectly in time to the violin playing softly just outside the open windows out on the terrace.
William admired the natural beauty in the way her hair cascaded smoothly down over her shoulders, and in her large hazel-green eyes that turned the color of caramel in the golden light of the room. He wasn’t so bad himself. Millicent couldn’t help but stare in wonder at his perfectly symmetrical face, and his powerful blue eyes that spoke to her with life.
This was a momentary lapse in time, where the sheer illusion of the fourth dimension coiled in on itself until it burst into an endless void in which the two forever wished to be entangled. But human existence isn’t solely based upon these dimensions. There are factors within them, the laws that keep everything in order. So when the song stopped playing on the violin, and the bow screeched across the strings, Millicent lost her sense of balance and rhythm, and stumbled over Mr. Atwin’s foot. He was quick to react by grabbing her waist before she could fall to the floor.
“Careful,” he whispered as he helped her back onto her feet.
“I’m sorry,” Millicent apologized in her uncommonly genteel voice. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” William’s laughter echoed throughout the large room, giving life to every sour corner that was, until present, forever untouched.
The man moved away from the young woman to peer out the window to see why the violinist had stopped playing. “Do not apologize for such petty things,” he explained to her from over his shoulder. “Apologies are meant for actions and words that harm one’s self-esteem or heart. If we waste our whole lives apologizing for the small things, we wouldn’t feel any better than an old dog cowering before its master with its tail tucked between its legs.”
“I sure hope you aren’t referring to me as a dog,” Millicent answered seriously.
“Only if you continue in this manner,” replied William honestly. She followed him over to the sofa in front of the fireplace where he stirred the embers before seating himself on the cushion beside her.
“Promise me that you will recognize the power in the beauty that you possess.” William raised a hand to cradle her face in his palm. He smiled, slowly, softly, as he leaned in to give her a kiss he’d waited a lifetime to give her.
Together the two were madly in love, isolated from a reality that neither would accept unless it was thrust upon them like it did in that moment. William had kept from Millicent one last thing, only in the most recent week. For after Millicent had nearly ousted the man for his crimes, Mr. Atwin knew full-well how deeply the secret carved away at Millicent’s soul, and he could not let her turn bitter with a secret that wasn’t hers to keep. That evening, after she had shown more of her body and soul to him than any other being on earth, he sat at his desk scattered with sketches of the woman, and wrote his confession.
“Mr. Atwin,” a man standing in the doorway cleared his throat, immediately followed by the in-sync footfalls of dressed constables who filed through into the room to take Mr. Atwin into custody. “Under the law and King’s orders, you are hereby under arrest for the murder of Robert Yultiere of Herrington Abbey.” Millicent stood still, unable to move as she tried, tried ever-so-hard to process what on earth was happening.
She looked frantically from William to the constables, then back to William who until just now, had been seen with a smile etched beautifully upon his face. When she looked at him now, he was sodden, but by his expression she knew that it was true- as if what she had seen that night needed to somehow be justified to prove to her that it really did happen.
“William,” she barely managed to cry before they started to lead him from the room. “William!” she shouted as she tried to find her voice. “I’ll get you out of this love!”
“How utterly crazy it is to let things be. Don’t fight for me,” he whispered the deadly words detached and untouched by the pleading cries for her fleeting love. As quickly as the soldier entered Millicent’s life, he was swept even faster away.