Heidi from ON, Canada
An original hardcover copy of my short novel will be on its way to Heidi from My Hiding Place in Cyberspace (picked by random number generator #20). Thank you to all who left comments and some excellent reading suggestions. To Heidi, I look forward to reading Suzanne's Diary. Other than Jane Austen, my favorite romance novel writer is Catherine Cookson. If you get a chance, pick up one of her books; especially The Wingless Bird, The Black Velvet Gown and The Gilyvors.
A big THANK YOU to Lisa at the Whimsical Bohemian for hosting an even bigger One World One Heart event.
And without further delay, here is the fourth and final part of my short story, Susan's Flight.
At exactly a quarter past midnight that night, Susan tiptoed through the front doors of the barn. She was so anxious all day that she didn’t even think to change her outfit from earlier that day.
“De Rozier?... De Rozier?” But there was no reply. She looked around the barn which was only lit by the moonlight coming through the cracks of the wood. There was no sign of De Rozier – or the balloon. Disappointed and somewhat afraid of being alone, Susan started to make her way out of the barn.
“Psst!...Susan!” She heard De Rozier call her. He was standing in the back doorway of the barn as he was motioning for her to come to him. She ran over to him delighted that she was not abandoned. As she exited the door she gasped at what she saw before her. The Aerostat Reveillon!
There it was right before her eyes! It was slowly rising as it was being inflated by several men. Before she knew it the balloon was quietly floating above her, fully expanded! There were six men each holding ropes down preventing it from lifting it off.
“Hurry, there’s not much time!” exclaimed De Rozier “Get in the basket!”.
“Pardon me?!!” cried Susan. “What was it that you said Mr. De Rozier?!”
“My dear Susan, please, call me Pilatre. My love; I give you the gift of being the first woman in flight. It’s okay; I have tested it out myself. It is quite safe, trust me. Such a beautiful and wonderful creature as you is deserving of no less honor. Please, my dear, join me in the basket whilst we explore the skies if for just a few moments. Alone. Together.”
Susan couldn’t move. She was in shock. Not only by the thought of going into the sky in the contraption but also by De Rozier’s expression of love. She felt as if she were to faint. She quickly took her smelling salts out of her green purse to prevent such from happening.
She looked at the balloon, then at De Rozier, then back at the balloon.
De Rozier gently held Susan’s face in both hands and said, “My love, will you join me?”
Susan began to melt at his gaze and said, “My love, Pilatre, I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful in the world.”
Pilatre helped Susan into the basket and then climbed in himself. Four of the six men let go of their ropes and they gently lifted off. To make sure they stayed over the general expanse of her father’s acreage, the two remaining men strongly held onto their ropes.
Susan and Pilatre floated up to about 100 feet in the air. It wasn’t as high as the balloon was capable of going but it was more than high enough for Susan. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Everything below her kept getting smaller and smaller. It seemed to get colder the higher they went and she was glad she had her shawl with her. Pilatre also noticed the drop in temperature and draped his jacket around Susan’s shoulders.
“My love, Susan. I opened my own physics museum several years ago and I provide demonstrations to nobles. I am successful in my field and the Montgolfier’s have asked for my further participation with their invention. They have even given me the Aerostat Reveillon for further studies! Perhaps I will improve on their design and invent my own flying envelope one day! What I’m trying to say, my dear, is that I can promise that you will live in comfort and want for absolutely nothing the day you become my wife.”
Susan couldn’t breath. Was it a combination of being so high in the air and of shock? Susan almost collapsed. Pilatre held Susan tight in his arms as they retreated to the floor of the basket where they sat and stretched out their legs in each other’s embrace. Before they knew it, the flight was over and they felt the basket lightly hit ground.
“It is time to go my love.” With the help of his men, Pilatre climbed out of the basket.
Once safely out, Pilatre held out his hands to help Susan and then quickly took his hands back. “Wait,” Pilatre said teasingly. “You never gave me an answer. Will you marry me?”
“Yes.” Susan laughed. “With all my heart.” “Yes”.
Susan and Pilatre walked away hand in hand with the balloon behind them glowing in the midnight sky.