Here is the second runner up story from the story competition. Congratulations, Ashley! Well done!
By Ashley M.
“It’s a shame you have to stand here alone like this.”
The young woman did not turn to see who was addressing her, but kept her eyes on her sister as she spun gracefully.
“It would truly be a shame if I were to embarrass myself by doing anything else.”
“Then I suppose you would turn me down if I were to ask you to dance with me.”
At this she turned, one eyebrow raised. “Well you’re certainly not shy. And why, might I ask, would I accept such an offer from a perfect stranger?”
He laughed. “That I cannot answer.”
She smiled slightly as she turned her attention to her sister once more. “Sarah would be disappointed if she learned I've stood watching all evening.” She studied her sister’s joyous expression for a moment before turning back to the young man beside her.
“I suppose I couldn’t turn you down if you were to ask.”
His blue eyes twinkled as he bowed slightly, smiling. “May I?”
She nodded, and they walked out into the room.
The young woman found herself dancing not nearly as badly as she had feared. She stumbled once or twice, but the tall, smiling stranger before her didn't seem to mind.
“So what brings you here? I can’t say that I have seen you before.”
“An old friend,” the man replied. “I don’t think you would know him. I haven’t seen him in years, but he invited me here for a visit. Unfortunately I must depart tomorrow.”
“A friend you say? But I know nearly everyone around. I would have thought we would have been properly introduced.”
“He’s not one for introductions. I don’t think you’d like him very well anyway.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Most people don’t really want him around. I must admit, I wasn’t sure how to handle him at first. I thought he would drive me mad. But you learn to see the good in people. In fact, he has taught me to enjoy life.”
“Sounds like an interesting person.”
With the conversation, she had nearly forgotten her dancing, but the temptation to feel self-conscious nagged at her as she saw her sister, beautiful as always.
“Is there a problem?”
“Not really. Only that I’m afraid I may be wasting your time.”
“Quite the opposite. I have enjoyed myself very much this evening. Thank you.”
The music came to an end, and he bowed, then turned to leave.
“You must at least tell me your name before you go.”
He smiled sadly, looking distantly at the night that had fallen. “It matters not. In a week’s time you will have forgotten.” He looked her in the eye as he continued. “You have my gratitude, however little it is worth, Elizabeth. I had hoped this evening would help me to forget, at least for a time, all that is to befall me. Indeed, my last day here has been hard. I am pleased that someone has given out of their time to help a poor soul such as mine.”
She would have questioned his words, had he not bowed again and left before she could make sense of any of it.
“Who was that, Liz?” Sarah stood nearby her younger sister, watching the young man leave.
“That is a very good question.”