My broken heart cannot see
My way through the halls of time
When I begged to make you mine
And now, my love, alas, alas
I must let this moment pass
In tears I let this moment……..P A S S
~ You Let The Moment Pass by Eileen Manassian Ghali
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the
glory of the LORD is risen upon you
~ Isaiah 60:1 (King James)
|Manchester 2 (by nzo100vin deviantart.com)|
Harry and Peggy
Ordsall, Salford, Greater Manchester
Harry and Peggy Wood had been married for sixty years.
They had lived in the same little terraced house in Salford for much of that time and were a devoted and contented couple.
Harry was a war veteran.
He had not long finished his Royal Navy service when he met Margaret (Peggy) Baker in a cafe.
She was working at the Mcvities biscuit factory and living with her parents in Eccles when they met.
He was twenty-four and she was just shy of twenty.
They were soul mates.
Everything happened very fast and the couple were married at St Clement's Church, Ordsall and honeymooned in Brighton.
A daughter would follow later and they named her Carole.
Carole lived in Australia with her husband Mitchell and they had two grown up daughters, Grace and Emily.
One Week Before Christmas
Harry Wood had settled into his favourite armchair by the large living room window.
The grey winter sky was streaked with red and purple.
Harry sipped his sweet tea as he pondered the empty corner of the living room where the Christmas tree was always placed.
This year was different.
And he just didn't have the heart to do it.
It was Harry's wife who always dressed the Christmas tree.
And she took great delight in doing it.
It was Peggy Wood's favourite time of year and it was her ritual to decorate the Christmas tree and she relished doing it.
She particularly loved to place the Christmas star on top of the tree.
"There we are!" She would pronounce proudly.
It was her favourite time of the year.
But with one week to go before Christmas day, the tree was still residing in the cupboard under the stairs.
Suddenly it felt very cold.
Suddenly Harry Wood felt very alone.
He took another sip of sweet tea and looked across the room.
Peggy was sitting in her favourite armchair; the green velvet one which had taken an entire afternoon to choose in Debenhams thirty years before.
Her face was partially illuminated by the street lamps from outside.
She was knitting a little winter hat for Harry and her gold spectacles were perched on the end of her nose.
Peggy looked up at Harry and smiled.
Then she slowly shook her head.
Harry's heart jumped.
Suddenly she was the pretty auburn haired lass he had met in a cafe.
The green eyed girl who was too shy to look directly in his eyes.
The beguiling auburn haired goddess.
The Deborah Kerr of Salford.
A woman so full of grace that it tore Harry Wood's heart out.
She was the only woman he had ever known and they went on to live a quiet life in their modest terraced house in Greater Manchester.
The years had evaporated.
Now Peggy looked at her husband with a knowing look in her eye.
"Don't you think it's time to put the Christmas tree up?" She said.
Harry almost spilled hot tea into his lap.
All words had suddenly deserted him.
There was a resplendent glow in Peggy's face that seemed to come from somewhere deep within her.
He remembered the day he married her as if it were yesterday.
Peggy was dressed in a Jenny Packham ivory silk wedding dress with a fine tulle veil and she looked like an angel as she walked down the isle on the arm of her father Albert.
"You're so beautiful" Harry Wood whispered to her.
"Everything is going to be alright" she replied.
And he knew it would be.
Peggy had always been a good Irish-Catholic girl.
It was her innate rectitude that often moved Harry Wood and it seemed to shine out of her.
"My angel" Harry declared.
She was too good for this world.
He wasn't sure at what point he had fallen asleep, but Harry awoke with a jolt to find the whole house flooded in darkness.
"Only me!" Came the female voice as the front door closed behind her.
It was Luiza Wozniak, the home help.
She was a slim Polish woman with blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
"What are you doing sitting in the dark?" Luiza gently chided Harry as she flicked on the light.
|The Heart, Salford Quays (by Belafon deviantart.com)|
Then he looked up at the clock on the wall - it was 7:00 pm.
He had been sleeping for over three hours.
Luiza Wozniak was holding a large covered plate in her hand.
"Irish stew!" She exclaimed brightly "Apple crumble for afters. Lucky you!"
Harry liked the woman.
She always seemed to brighten up the place and nothing was ever too hard for her.
Luiza Wozniak had been assisting Harry Wood for three years now and she had acquired a lot of affection for him regarding him as a surrogate grandfather.
"Peggy will like it too" Harry informed her "Irish stew is one of her favourites"
"Of course it is"
"I'm sure you're looking forward to your daughter coming to stay"
Harry Wood nodded enthusiastically.
The weather had changed dramatically the following day with biting winds and frost on the ground.
Harry Wood had put on his woollen coat, Harris Tweed cap and the blue and mauve scarf which Peggy had meticulously knitted for him a couple of years before.
He still had the 32' inch waist that he had had for most of his adult life and he was as nimble and agile as ever taking a brisk every day if he could.
Harry was heading for his favourite place - Ordsall Park.
The park was opened in 1876, and was the second oldest park in Salford.
Harry braced himself against the rising winds as he found a bench and sat down.
The sky had considerably darkened and the park was virtually empty but Harry Wood was already immersed in his own thoughts.
He had sat in exactly the same spot a year before.
Now Harry mused on the dreamlike passing of time.
"Hello Harry!" A female voice hailed him.
It was Julie Chadwick from Lloyd's Pharmacy in town.
She was taking her little Yorkshire Terrier Milo for a walk.
"Hello, love" Harry replied.
"You'll catch your death in the cold!" Julie cried.
Then she realised what she had said and suddenly felt shamefaced.
There was an uneasy couple of moments.
"I'm quite happy here" Harry Wood assured her.
"Why don't you come back to mine for tea? There's plenty to go round"
Julie lived with her husband Gavin and three year old daughter Lisa in a splendid house with a pool and games room.
"Oh my, is that the time!" Harry fretted as he glanced at his watch.
"It's quite alright. You'd be most welcome" Julie insisted.
"I'd better be going love. Peggy will be wondering what happened to me!"
Julie Chadwick smiled.
Then she helped Harry Wood rise from the bench.
"Perhaps another time" She said.
Wood doffed his hat.
"I'll hold you to it!" Julie Chadwick added.
Three Days Before Christmas
The living room had been completely transformed into a festive haven with garlands, candles and strings of cards across the walls.
Now Harry Wood stepped back to look admirably at the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room.
It had been adorned with flashing Christmas lights and gold tinsel, glittering bells and pretty baubles that sparkled when the light caught them.
"Wonderful!" Luiza Wozniak pronounced proudly.
Then she laid a hand gently on Harry's shoulder.
"But there is just one thing ..."
She placed the shimmering Christmas star in his hand.
For a few moments Harry Wood was too overcome with emotion to speak.
Then he saw Peggy standing in the doorway.
She was dressed in a white satin dress and she motioned to him.
Harry took the Christmas star and placed it carefully on top of the tree.
"Perfect!" Luiza Wozniak declared "Let's have some tea!"
The whole living room seemed to be bathed in light.
"Everything is going to be alright" Peggy whispered into Harry's ear.
He could smell her perfume.
Harry Wood closed his eyes.
He remembered walking hand in hand with Peggy across the beach in Blackpool.
They had been married for ten years but had been unable to have children.
The couple had become resigned to it.
They had each other and that was all that mattered.
"I have summat to tell you" Peggy Wood informed her husband.
Her face was glowing and her eyes were shining brightly.
For a few moments Harry was lost for words.
The beach suddenly seemed very quiet with only the sound of lapping waves.
"Aye, four weeks gone. I'm expecting a little one!" Peggy declared proudly.
"Why love, that's amazing!" Harry Wood exclaimed lifting her up and spinning her around until they tumbled into the sand.
They were both giggling and suddenly Harry went quiet.
Peggy knew how conscientious her husband was.
He must be worrying about whether he would be a good dad.
"Are you okay love?" Peggy asked him.
"Everything is going to be alright" Peggy assured him.
The clouds had suddenly disappeared.
Harry Wood felt he was the happiest man alive.
When he opened his eyes again Harry was standing beside Luiza Wozniak in St Joseph Roman Catholic Church.
It was Midnight Mass.
The church was full of people and their faces were illuminated by the candlelight.
St Joseph's had become an otherworldly place inhabited by celestial beings.
"Angels" Harry Wood declared.
An ethereal peace had descended upon St Joseph's.
Peggy stood beside him in her white satin dress.
Her whole face glowed in the candlelight.
"Everything is going to be alright" she whispered.
It was 3pm when Harry Wood opened the front door to his daughter.
Carole was so overcome with emotion that she hugged her father and would not let him go.
"Steady, girl" Harry cried.
Her husband appeared at the door laden with presents.
Mitchell Jones was an architect by trade and had made a good life for himself and his family in Australia.
They were able to live comfortably in semi-retirement in the Sydney suburb of Rydalmere.
"Crumbs!" Harry exclaimed at the sight of all the gifts.
"The girls send their love" Mitchell informed his father-in-law, enthusiastically patting his arm.
As soon as he was alone with his daughter in the hall, Carole looked deeply into her fathers eyes.
She was small and blonde with engaging blue eyes.
"Are you alright daddy?" Carole asked with concern.
"Aye, love" Harry assured her as he gripped her hand.
"Why don't you come and live with us in Australia?" Carole asserted "We have plenty of room and the weather will do you good. Sydney is stunning and there is so much to see and do"
"I'm quite okay here, my dear" Harry Wood replied firmly.
Carole kissed her father on the cheek.
"Besides, your mother told me everything is going to be alright"
Carole Jones smiled.
It was a frosty morning with a clear sky.
Carole arose with a jolt.
Leaving her slumbering husband behind she left the guest room and noticed that her parents door was ajar.
The big bed had not been slept in.
Carole smiled to herself.
Her father must have fallen asleep watching TV.
She quietly made her way downstairs expecting to find her father quietly snoring in his favourite armchair.
The curtains were still drawn in the living room and an ethereal peace seemed to permeate everything.
Harry Wood was sitting in his favourite armchair and appeared to be sleeping.
As Carole Jones approached her father, she realised his chest wasn't moving.
He looked very peaceful.
She knew her father had gone.
Carole Jones noticed he seemed to be smiling.
She gently kissed her father's hand and then dissolved into sobs.
Crowds lined the streets of Ordsall as the funeral car passed slowly by.
A great hush had descended upon them.
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was full that morning with many residents of Ordsall attending the funeral service.
Life would never be the same for the people of Ordsall who could not remember a time when Harry Wood was not around.
The quiet man had at last quietly left them.
A large crowd of mourners gathered at the interment to stand in solidarity with the family of Harry Wood.
Mitchel and Carole Jones with their daughters Grace and Emily and their own families were surrounded by a tidal wave of love.
Harry Wood was buried beside his wife in All Hallows Graveyard.
Just as he wished.
Carole remained at the graveside beside her husband.
He put his arm around her.
"You okay?" He whispered.
"Yes" she replied.
She turned to look earnestly into her husbands eyes.
"Everything is going to be alright. Just like my mom said"
Stretford, Trafford, Greater Manchester
One Week Before Christmas
Katie Paige hadn't seen the car.
She was so immersed in her own thoughts that she stepped out into the road without looking.
Katie worked at the Town Hall and she left early that afternoon pleading sickness.
She just couldn't face the Christmas party.
Feeling lost and cast down, she drove into town and stopped at the Trafford Centre.
But it was one week before Christmas and every shop seemed to be packed with shoppers.
Katie Paige had never felt more alone as she walked around the centre.
She kept picturing him in her mind.
|Manchester - Trafford Park 2 (by eemmzzz deviantart.com)|
He had broken the spell with a shock announcement on the last day before the festive break.
Fraser Douglas had just announced his engagement to the attractive woman clinging to his side.
She was fawning and grinning contentedly.
A striking blue eyed blonde.
She was the Manhattan sweetheart who had only been at the Town Hall a year.
Daniella Davis exuded self confidence and self assurance.
Katie Paige hated her.
She hated her for stealing her man.
Daniella Davis batted her eyelashes and Fraser Douglas fell at her feet.
Now she watched as the dazzling couple kissed each other
The entire office broke into applause and terms of endearment.
Katie's world imploded.
Everything seemed to have happened so fast that it made her head spin.
Fraser Douglas and Daniella Davis had been conducting an affair under everyone's nose and they were so discreet that nobody had any inkling about it.
He explained how it was "love at first sight".
The words felt like a dagger to Katie's heart.
Men and women had gathered around the strapping Glaswegian and his pretty fiancée as he spoke and Katie listened with tears in her eyes at the back.
Fraser Douglas was the handsome action man who loved trekking through the Chilterns and climbing mountains ranges.
He was 6ft tall with red hair and piercing green eyes and a sonorous voice which sent shivers down Katie Paige's spine.
Fraser was polite and well mannered and Katie had been secretly in love with him since he arrived at the Town Hall, but she had never been able to pluck up the courage to approach him.
They shared surface conversations during lunch break or on the odd occasions co-workers went out to a bar or for a meal together.
Katie was always subtle but meaningful yet it always seemed that Fraser Douglas looked right through her with his glittering green eyes.
She wasn't sophisticated or assertive; she was just an unpretentious young woman who had fallen in love with a man who didn't seem to notice her.
Fraser was gregarious and athletic and Katie was the shy little girl who listened more than she spoke.
Katie Paige was a reserved and quietly spoken young woman.
She was a pretty brunette with indigo eyes and a winsome smile.
Katie lived in a modest little flat with her co-worker and friend Jenny Clay in Stretford.
She was a die-hard romantic who had never really been in love before and now she had lost the man of her dreams.
Fraser Douglas had been her Mr Darcy.
She fantasised about running away with him to a place where the sky was always blue and nothing bad ever happened.
But it was all just a dream.
Now Fraser Douglas was standing beside the woman who would one day be his wife.
Although she was surrounded by people, Katie Paige had never felt so alone before.
She retreated to the staff kitchen and splashed cold water on her face.
"Coming to the party?"
It was Jenny Clay.
She playfully nudged Paige with her elbow.
"No, I don't feel very well ..."
"Are you okay?"
"Aye ... of course I am"
Katie was fighting back tears.
Jenny Clay smiled knowingly.
She knew full well her friend wasn't okay.
They had been friends since their college days.
Jenny Clay was an engaging brunette with hazel eyes and a jocular personality.
She knew her friend was in love with Fraser Douglas but had been too shy to let him know.
Now he had met somebody and the chance had gone.
Jenny Clay felt incredibly sad for her friend.
"You'll be alright, babe" She assured her.
Katie managed to smile.
But all she wanted to do right now was hide.
She re-entered the office and quietly gathered her things together.
Then she paused at the door.
Fraser Douglas was showing everyone the diamond and sapphire engagement ring on Daniella's finger.
Katie Paige closed the door quietly behind her.
As she walked around the busy centre she heard Fraser's voice in her head.
"She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen!" He declared.
Tears were streaming down Katie's face.
She decided to go home to nurse her broken heart.
A long hot bath beckoned to her.
Suddenly Katie felt glad she lit a candle in St Ann's church.
It was such a peaceful place and she had paused at the altar.
Katie Paige wasn't looking when she stepped into the road and although the red hatchback swerved to avoid her, it drove into her from the right side and sent her tumbling across the bonnet onto the ground.
People quickly gathered around her but she couldn't make them out.
Her whole body hurt.
Everything seemed to go into slow motion as street lights got brighter and brighter before Paige lost consciousness.
Katie Paige had lost track of time.
It had become obsolete in her no-man's-land.
When she eventually came to, it was as if she had risen from the dead and was surrounded by shining faces in an unfamiliar place.
Katie had been in a dreamless deep slumber and as she slowly opened her eyes she could just make out the faces looking down upon her.
She squinted as her eyes adjusted to the bright room.
"Where am I?" Katie asked weakly.
"Stretford Memorial Hospital" a female voice informed her.
"You've had an accident" another female voice added
Katie noticed that she was attached to an intravenous drip.
Her whole body felt numb and she was completely disorientated.
Her head felt groggy and her limbs heavy.
Katie squinted at the name tag on the nurses uniform.
Ayanda Adunola, RN
The Nigerian nurse was sturdily built with a round face, onyx eyes and a big smile.
"What happened to me?" Katie asked.
"You were hit by a car. The owner called the ambulance and stayed with you" Nurse Ayanda informed her.
The other nurse smiled.
"You are a very lucky lady"
Katie read her name tag.
Lucy Reeves RN
She was small and blonde with light blue eyes.
Nurse Lucy checked the drip and made some notes.
Both nurses were selfless.
Their faces seemed to glow.
"Angels" Katie Paige muttered.
Then her eyes became heavy again and she began to drift off.
Everything slowly receded.
"Katie! Katie! Katie"
She could hear her mother's voice calling to her from somewhere outside herself.
Katie ran towards the partially open door.
The dream began to fade.
It was the familiar voice of Nurse Ayanda calling her out of her slumber.
"The doctor will see you now"
|Town Hall (by belafon deviantart.com)|
Katie was still coming to, and she struggled to make out the blurred face.
Then she thought her heart had stopped.
Katie was immediately struck by how handsome the doctor was.
He was tall and imposing with wavy black hair, olive skin and sharp green eyes.
"My name is Dr Michael Kasabian" he informed her in a resonant voice "and I am going to be looking after you"
Katie noticed that he had full lips and a beauty spot on his right cheek.
He smelled of freshly cut flowers, goodness and hope.
Katie Paige's heart had somersaulted.
"You're beautiful" Katie told him.
Dr Kasabian smiled.
"Rest for now. You've been through a lot today"
He paused at the door.
"I'll check in on you later"
And then he was gone and the world suddenly felt very ordinary.
Katie Paige was unable to suppress a smile.
She had narrowly escaped death and the bizarre night was taking an unexpected turn.
Hope had entered the frame.
And Katie Paige was profoundly grateful for all the calamities that had befallen her.
"You're lucky your injuries were not life threatening" Nurse Ayanda informed her at the door.
Later she called Jenny Clay.
"My God, are you okay?" Clay cried.
"It could have been worse ..."
"I'll be there in twenty minutes!"
Jenny Clay was still wearing her Christmas hat when she arrived and she listened in shocked silence as her friend told her what had happened.
Clay clutched Katie's hand and fought back the tears.
"You've been through it!" She cried.
She was still struggling to comprehend what Katie was telling her as she sat on the side of the hospital bed.
She looked so small and fragile - like a wounded sparrow.
There was a vivid blue and purple bruise across the left side of her face but she still looked pretty.
"Your friend is a very lucky young lady" Nurse Ayanda informed Jenny Clay.
When Katie had finished. Clay had something to tell her.
"Everyone is concerned about you, particularly -"
Fraser Douglas suddenly bounded into the hospital room with a concerned look upon his face.
"Katie!" He exclaimed "Thank God you are okay!"
Katie Paige looked up at the man she had secretly longed for for three years.
"I heard what happened and I had to come!" Douglas added earnestly.
She could tell he was slightly out of breath from exertion and that his sentiments were heartfelt.
He must have been running to get to the hospital.
How long had Katie yearned for Fraser to come running to her.
And now he had and she felt oddly hollow.
Fraser sat on the side of the bed beside Jenny Clay and his piercing green eyes looked longingly into Katie's haunted face.
It was the familiar handsome face.
But something had happened.
Katie Paige was no longer in love with Fraser Douglas.
The fairy dust had evaporated.
Fraser Douglas was just a man.
"Thank you, Fraser" Katie said "But I really am quite okay"
"I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost you" Douglas cried.
Once upon a time she would have given anything to have him so close to her and to listen to his dulcet tones.
But it was just a voice.
Jenny Clay knew instantly that something had changed in her friend.
Katie had let Fraser go.
Dr Kasabian had re-entered the room again.
Katie looked to him.
He had totally eclipsed Fraser Douglas.
"Everything is going to be alright now" Paige declared.
The handsome doctor smiled at her.
"I have angels to look after me"
Fraser Douglas looked at Jenny Clay.
Katie was able to spend Christmas with her father and mother in Bolton.
She was just putting the dishes away on Boxing Day evening when her phone rang.
Katie's heart jumped.
She knew exactly who it was.
"I am your angel" Dr Michael Kasabian declared.
|christmas (by garfieldgreen deviiantart.com)|