The salon was genteelly alive with an undercurrent of whispered conversations and the swish of butterfly-bright dresses as I entered the room a little after four in the afternoon. With a smile and a cordial how-do-you-do to my old friends, I threaded my way to the center of the room.
“Jane,” I said as I sat down, “I think I may have a problem.”
“Have some tea,” Jane said with her classic composure. “It will give you time to think it over.”
Katniss snorted. “Fat lot of good that’s going to do.”
Jane delicately ignored her, even as she ignored the crumbs Katniss deliberately shed upon the faded rose carpet as she ate the tiny, crumbling lemon scones without a plate.
“He called me last night,” I said, and all conversation within that discreet drawing room suddenly stopped. Alice even had her cup poised halfway to her mouth, riveted with shock, while Lizzy Bennet had dropped her book into her lap.
“Ahem,” murmured Jane, ever genteel. She handed me a cup of fragrant Darjeeling Black. “Milk? Sugar?”
“Yes, please,” I responded automatically. Around the room, murmurs of conversation began to ebb and swell once again, but all eyes remained pinned upon me.
I think I knew what they were talking about.
Properly prepared with tea and petit fours, Jane settled into the settee and trained her calm green eyes upon my face, waiting for me to tell the whole story.
“It has been a while, months, perhaps even a year, since we talked,” I began. “But, you know, he is always there, somewhere. I keep him in my heart, and his memory is never very far from me. Then, last night, he called.”
I sipped my tea, looking into its depths for answers to the meaning of life.
A swish of rich damask fabric rustled by, swirling around a tiny pair of feet as Juliet joined our party.
“Might I help?” she asked politely as Jane smiled, nodding and pouring more tea. Juliet was always a favorite in every circle.
“I am not sure,” I replied. “I have already run away with him, once, maybe twice. And then I ran away from him, and that is where all the heartache really began.”
Juliet pursed her beautiful rose-bud lips in a concentrated frown. Katniss absentmindedly scratched the knee of her brown pants, one leg casually crossed over the other. Jane simply watched me.
“We have all waited, at one time in our lives, for love to find us,” our hostess said at last. “I suppose the question is, are you done waiting?”
“I am always waiting,” I sighed. “I waited for the right time, for the right person, for the right reasons. Now I am simply waiting for Saturdays, waiting for a few hours to feel wanted again.”
“We’re no longer talking about the same person,” interjected Juliet. Of all the women here, she and Jane have known me the longest, but it was still Juliet with whom I had become friends with first, so many long years ago when we were both children at the age of thirteen.
Katniss, ever alert to trouble with true love, perked up. “Wait, there’s someone else?”
“Is there?” Jane asked. “Is there really someone else?”
I stared into my tea and did not know the answer.
When I woke up, the answer still eluded me.
Is there ever truly someone else, after your first love?
And what happens when he comes calling, and your heart whispers, Yes, I remember you.