The sun was hot, but the breeze chill, as Kate stood beneath the shade, her Parasol tilted slightly behind her. Around her, couples and families were picnicking, enjoying this pleasant day by the river. Screams of mirth and bits of conversation surrounded Kate as she looked out across the river, from where she stood in her blue and gray dress. Her eyes scanned the happy faces as she subconsciously reached up for her cap. Halfway there, she dropped her arm sighing.
“Where is John? We were supposed to meet today. Why isn’t he here?”
She scanned the surrounding grounds. No one noticed she spoke out loud. She sighed; no one was looking her way. Oh, the horror if word got out she talked to herself! Wherever she went, people would point and whisper as she passed, “There’s the woman who has conversations with herself. What a peculiar thing to do.” Or even worse, “Shouldn’t she be put into an asylum? There must be something wrong with her.”
On the river, boats glided by. Some had sails, lazily drifting with the gentle wind. A few had stacks billowing out black, ugly smoke. Coal, that was how those boats got their power. The corner of Kate’s mouth curled upward as she remembered the new invention. Men spoke of it around the house. The power source to conquer the world, they liked to say.
“I don’t see what makes coal so great. I think it looks ugly.”
She did it again, talked aloud.
“My dear who looks so lovely in your dress, may I ask who you are talking to?”
Kate wheeled around to face the male speaker. Dressed to the tees stood John, smirking in his usual way. Her face lit up as she wrapped her arms around John’s muscular neck. Large reassuring hands locked fingers behind her back. Hugging John released the weight off Kate’s shoulders. Her body sagged slightly. “Coal is such an amazing power source because more energy is harnessed from less. It is like wood except better as a result.”
Kate loosened her grip, straightening as she looked directly at John. “Is that so?” She turned her head back toward the river. A different coal powered boat was making its way upstream. Several long canoes were also now visible. Just above the din onshore, Kate could her the men rowing urging each other on. She turned back to John. His eyes were on her.
“So, why did you want to meet with me?”
John’s smirk became a smile as he continued to look at her. “There’s something I have been working these last couple months I would like to show you.”
Kate eyed him, her head tilted back. “What is this thing you want to show me?”
“You will like it when you see it.”
“But, what is it?”
“That is for me to know and you to find out.”
Kate frowned as John’s grin grew. He reach his hand up to stifle his laughter. With a single shake of her head, Kate craned her head, her focus shifted behind John. Arching its body in an attempt to catch a stick was a Dalmatian. She smiled as it caught the stick and ran back toward a waiting girl.
“Can we see it now?”
“Why rush it? Let’s go to a cafe and you can come to my place later where it is waiting.”
“Stalling as usual. Is it really that amazing?”
“Of course it is.”
Kate’s shoulders dropped as she looked into John’s hopeful eyes. She spun around to face the river, her dress a rippling wave flowing shifting around her. Her eyes sparkled as she took in the soft palette of the river with flashes of brilliance and its passengers. She turned back to face those enjoying their afternoon in the sun. It amazed her how the contrasting spectrums of color between the shore and the river complimented each other the way a painter constructed a Rococo painting. She reached out and grabbed John’s hand. He squeezed her hand as he closed the gap between them.
Walking hand in hand, the Kate and John walked out of the park and its inhabitants