Why can't I think of more original titles? Ah well. Here we go!
The gangplank would be lowered soon. Excitement tingled Barbara to her very toes. In just a few minutes, the moment she had been awaiting for four long, dreadful years would happen; Greg would step off the ship.
She had imagined this romantic moment for months. Her first sighting of Greg, standing on the deck of the ship, still in his uniform, a proud, handsome look on his face. The exhilarating thrill of enraptured, passionate longing for his strong arms around her once more that would course through her body. And best of all, the moment when she would throw herself into Greg’s arms, and they would be evolved in one of the most romantic expressions of love in history.
|This is sort of what Barbara is imagining.|
It was a wonderfully sentimental, flowery, and giddy dream, and Barbara loved it. Brushing a strand of hair from her eyes, she strained to discern Greg from the crowd of happy, laughing men on the deck of the ship. She hoped she wouldn't miss him entirely when he finally reached the dock.
The men were coming off! Barbara let herself be carried forward by the excited crowd around her, and felt tears prick her eyes at the cries of wild joy as husbands and wives, sons and parents, and boyfriends and girlfriends were reunited at last.
Greg, darling, where are you? Barbara almost started biting her lips, then stopped herself. She didn’t want them getting all broken and bloody. Clasping her purse tightly, her eyes roved over the many faces, until at long last they landed on the one she sought.
“Greg!” The name burst from her mouth without reserve and Barbara hurled herself through the crowd, shoving aside men and women as she covered the last few feet toward her fiance. “Oh Greg!” These words were sobbed out as she landed against him, and his arms went around her, holding her up. Whatever she wanted to say was stuck in her throat and for a moment she pressed her face against his chest, then lifted it towards his.
“Barb?” The words were spoken gruffly and Greg held her away from him, looking at her keenly, his eyes dark.
“Greg, I missed you so....” The words died on her lips and Barbara stared up at him in confusion. “Darling, is something wrong?”
“Don’t jump all over me like that and cry; you’re making people look.” Greg spoke bluntly, almost harshly, and let go of her so suddenly that she almost fell.
“Greg...” Barbara trailed off in bewilderment, suddenly feeling cold. “Darling, what is it?”
“Would you quit calling me that in public? No, actually, don’t call me that at all, okay? ‘Greg’ will do.” He bent and picked up his bags. “Do you have a taxi or something waiting? I could fall asleep on my feet. And where’re my folks?”
Barbara swallowed her disappointment. Dear Greg. He was probably just tired, that was all. “Your mom is sick, and your dad’s leg is acting up again so he couldn’t walk. But they’re both anxious to see you,” she added hastily. “Come on, I have a cab waiting right over here. Let me help you those bags--”
“I got them,” Greg interrupted her gruffly, jerking the luggage away from her eager hands. “Let’s go then. I’m about ready to drop.”
Trying to smile away the curious and sympathetic stares of others, Barbara followed Greg to the street. The crowd had dispersed a little by now, and it was easier to walk. Their path to the cab took them by a newly united couple kissing rapturously, and Barbara felt tears come to her eyes. What was wrong with Greg? He had never acted this way before.
Greg handed the cabman his bags and eased himself inside the taxi. The trunk slammed and his head came up. “Get down! It’s...oh.” Barbara almost gasped at the look in his eyes. She sat down hurriedly beside him.
“Dar-- Greg, it’s all right. It was just the trunk.”
He jerked his hand from hers. “Great. Get moving, driver.” His face closed up and he looked out the window.
Barbara nodded to the dubious taxi driver and they moved off down the street. Confusion and worry filled her mind, and she didn’t know what to say. The taxi became very quiet, uncomfortably so. What do I say? I feel as if there’s a giant wall between us.
The driver cleared his throat. “Did you just get back from overseas?” He addressed the question casually at Greg and Barbara waited for the answer, hoping for the old Greg to reply instead of this stranger.
“Yes.” A one word answer, nothing more. Greg drummed his fingers on his leg. “Can’t you go any faster? I want to get home.”
“Sorry, buddy,” the driver said slowly, not sounding sorry at all. “Can’t go above the speed limit. I’m not hankering for a ticket right now.”
Greg leaned his head against the window. “Barbara.”
She jumped a little. “Yes, Greg?”
“Do you have to wear that perfume?”
Barbara blinked in startled surprise. “Do I... why, no. Does the smell bother you?”
Again, the one word answer. Barbara said no more, but in her heart was growing a steady confusion and hurt. What was going on with Greg? Desperately, she clung to the hope that he was just tired, and perhaps hungry as well.
The taxi pulled up in front of Greg’s house. Greg immediately got out and pulled his bags from the trunk, while Barbara hastily paid the driver. “Thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome, miss. I would watch that one if I were you,” the driver grunted. He raised his eyebrows in Greg’s direction, and pulled away.
“Umm, Barbara?” Barbara turned to find Greg staring at her. “Why did you send the taxi away? How’re you going to get home?”
“Well, I wasn’t planning on going home just yet,” Barbara smiled, taking his arm. He stiffened. “I’ll go inside with you, and while you and your folks talk, I’ll cook up a celebration supper and then--”
“Why don’t you just go home, Barb?”
Now it was Barbara’s turn to stare at him. “Go... home?”
“Yeah. I just want to go in, say hi, and get to bed. I’m pooped.”
“Oh, I can see that you're tired,” Barbara amended hastily. “But I thought that you would enjoy a homecoming meal, and then we could sit on the porch and talk and... doesn’t it sound nice?” She couldn’t keep the puppy-dog hope out of her voice, not on the verge of tears like this.
“No, it doesn’t,” Greg said bluntly, pulling his arm from her grasp. “Goodnight, Barbara.” Abruptly, he turned and walked up the path to the house. The door opened, there were cries of glad joy, and Greg disappeared from her view.
Barbara stood staring at the house, her purse hanging limply on her arm. Her happy, romantic dreams of his homecoming were crashing down in a loud roar around her. The tears would not be held back any longer, and she turned down the sidewalk, trying to let the hurt out. At the end of the street, she looked back. The house remained quiet and blank, with no sign of Greg.
“Goodnight, Greg,” Barbara whispered. Her feet moved forward, she turned the corner, and the house vanished out of sight.
That was my first scene for the first plot bunny for the June Crusade!