Sophia stared across the desolate French hamlet square. A light rain was falling softly, making the evening bleak and cold. She hugged herself and felt the old soft fur coat letting off a trickle of warmth. Sighing, she looked at the grimy windows of the small café behind her then upwards to the remains of a candy cane stripped cloth veranda.
A cat howled and she jumped. Her breath stuck in her throat and her eyes shot around the square. Sophia saw nothing but the boarded up empty shops and the abandoned carousel. Calming herself, she concentrated on the shadows of the horses lurking under their shelter. She counted to ten then checking the coast was clear, walked quickly over. The sound of her high heels tapping on the cobbles broke the returning silence.
Stopping just before the flat circle steps, she looked up at one of the wooden horses. The paint was badly chipped and peeling, yet some of the once bright whites, reds and gold still clung on. The horse’s face was frozen in terror and Sophia shied away from it.
Slowly walking around, she tried to ignore the other horses that all looked pained and scared. Coming to the back, she spotted what she was looking for. The bottom half of a fairy tale white and yellow carriage which sat in-between four horses. Picking up her coat and long skirt, she stepped up and felt the carousel creak underneath her. She paused to listen then reached out for a golden twisted pole and pulled herself up. She slipped into the carriage and sat down on the worn bench.
She couldn’t see much of the square from this angle, but she did feel safer and hidden. Arranging her dark red curly hair and fur hat, she tried not to think about what time it was. Of course, that question led her to wondering where he was, but she quickly dismissed it. Flatting her hat back on, she listened to the patting of the rain and the cracking of the carousel. Sophia lent back and shut her eyes. The sleepless nights were starting to catch up with her and all this trouble with the riots wasn’t helping.
She heard soft boot steps coming from across the square. Opening her eyes, Sophia froze. She watched a shadow separated itself from the others and dart under the café shop’s veranda where she had stood only minutes before. Was it the policeman doing his nightly rounds or a thief looking for food and things to sell? Maybe it was Sorel? God, please let it be him, Sophia prayed.
The figure began moving towards the carousel and Sophia watched the tall man wearing a trench coat come to a pause before the horses. Without realizing it, she had sunk down and was peering nervously over the edge of the carriage. The footsteps picked up again, making their way around. Sophia pulled down her hat, thoughts zipping through her mind.
A soft voice called out her name and she looked up. Sorel was looking down at her with his fingers touching the lip of his top hat. Sophia sat up, her face blossoming into life.
‘My love!’ Sorel cried and jumped onto the steps.
The carousel rocked and they both grabbed what they could. Then Sorel was stumbling into the carriage and landing heavily on his knees.
A startle of French words tumbled from Sophia’s lips and she hurried to help him up. Her fingers slipped over his leather coat before finding his warm wrist.
‘I’m fine, Angel, fine,’ Sorel’s voice whispered.
He pulled himself up and sat beside her, grabbing Sophia into a damp hug.
‘I was so worried,’ she breathed into his neck.
‘Don’t be. Everything is fine,’ Sorel replied and stroked her hair.
‘I hate meeting here,’ she added.
‘It’s the best place, until the war is over.’
‘I know, but still…’
‘Hush now,’ Sorel breathed and kissed her gently on the lips.
Sophia let out a shaky gasp then pressed her face into his.
‘Let’s forget about everything and just be in this moment, Angel,’ Sorel uttered against her lips.
‘Yes, my love,’ Sophia replied and kissed him again.
The night rolled silently in, cocooning the lovers as they held each other tightly in the carousel carriage.