Blast

What a beautiful Saturday in Northallerton. The sun was shining so bright that you could hardly believe this was an English town and not some seaside resort somewhere in the south of Spain. It was around 5 o'clock and the weather was surprisingly hot with over 30 degrees, which was very uncommon for this small town of only about 7,000 inhabitants. The atmosphere was also very calm without any raindrop or blast of wind to spoil this perfect day. The sky had an electric blue tint that offered a pleasant contrast with the dark grey colour of Northallerton High Street's roofs. The usually calm street was filled with the blasting sound of the new musical genre en vogue, the famous rockabilly. About thirty people, dressed in the most elegant way these middle-class families could offer, were thronging over the small square of the village for the annual ball.

Elizabeth was dancing to the sound of "Jailhouse Rock" with John. She knew he was about to finally ask her hand after three month of an exquisite and somewhat clumsy courting and she was going to accept without a single doubt. Even if he was a bit shy and kind of withdrawn, she couldn't deny that it was the reason she was attracted to him. She knew at the minute their eyes had met that they were made for each other. Anyone who didn't think that way would be blind or seriously dumb. He was the perfect husband for her. His soul was only tenderness and kindness. Furthermore, he was a truly gifted dancer and she was having a real blast with him tonight. Her heart was pounding with an exquisite rush of blood to her legs and her head was spinning from all the turns. The lights and the faces around her were mixing and she could only see John's eyes, full of undying love, and feel his hands wrapped around hers and the air moving around them. They were the center of everyone's attention and admiration. Nothing could disturb the perfection of this day.

Even her grandmother, who absolutely hated Elvis because she thought he was outrageously provocative and a really ill-bred young man with such an insolent appearance, had to admit that this song really suited Elizabeth and John's choreography. She thought Elizabeth looked truly beautiful in her red dress as the couple swung across her way. She hoped that John would finally ask her hand tonight because, even if he wasn't very rich or handsome, he was a true gentleman who cared about her and wanted to make her happy and that was enough for the old Mrs. Blaster. To her mind, it was a real progress that a girl could choose the man she wanted to marry without much pressure from her family. She hadn't had that chance back in her days. But then again, it was in the 1890's years and times had changed a lot since then. As she was getting lost, once again, in her memories of the beginning of the century by that blast from the past her musing had created, Elizabeth's sister, Jane, was trying to put on a happy and genuinely entertained face but she couldn't wait to get out of this place.

The thought of her sister marrying the only man she ever had feelings for was for her a source of sharp pain and sadness and the music blasting out in her mind only made her headache stronger. She couldn't look at Elizabeth without feeling an irrepressible rush of jealousy and anger. Ever since they had met, John seemed to only have eyes for her. Why was it always her ? She was sick of being everyone's second choice. Even her mother would approve something Elizabeth would do and then reproach her little sister for that exact same thing. And the worst was that Eliza didn't seem to realize the obviousness of their parents' preference. Thus, Jane couldn't even blame her or feel the slightest resentment that would be justified toward her. She didn't try to attract everyone's attention, it seemed to be in her innate self to do so. That very morning, after both the young women had finished getting dressed for the ball, their father had complimented Eliza about her dress but hadn't even acknowledged Jane. She could have been a part of the antique tapestry that covered their living room, it would have been just the same. Determined not to let her feelings get the best of her on such a public circumstance, she locked those thoughts away and tried to watch the other couples while purposely avoiding Eliza.

Mr. Brocklehurst, on the other hand, wasn't looking at anyone else but his daughter. She was, in his mind, the most beautiful young lady in the Kingdom and his greatest pride. He was very satisfied with the arrangement he had made with Mr. Lockwood to ensure her happiness by guaranteeing that John would marry his dear Lizzy. Even if it had been a real difficulty to convince Mr. Lockwood's son, because the young ditsy only had his other daughter, and worst disappointment, Jane, in mind; and it had taken quite the money, it was definitely worth it. He had noticed from the very beginning the attraction that both his daughters felt toward the young Mr. Lockwood and he was delighted to grant Elizabeth's dearest wish even if it meant putting his other daughter in a painful situation. Jane was a blasted, silly child who always had her mind on trivialities, never took any part in conversations in the society and was unable to act like a good lady of the house. He despaired of ever finding a man lenient, or utterly foolish, enough to marry her. She was the exact opposite of what you could desire to find in a woman's mind. But he didn't want to think about her today. This was Lizzy's day and she was the only one who mattered now. As the music kept going, he began counting the seconds until John's declaration.

On his left side, Mrs. Brocklehurst was swaying unconsciously her hips along with the rhythm while she daydreamed of her daughter's future life with her soon-to-be fiancé. She was glad that Liza had found a man who truly loved her. It was absolutely wonderful how two young people could be so perfect for each other, they were true soul mates ! Her sole aim was to give her elder daughter a better marital life than she had with her own husband who had been chosen by her parents and whom she, without despising him, saw as a silly and arrogant man and for whom she only felt a deep indifference. She couldn't say that she had been sad or miserable with him, but she couldn't say that she was happy either. Thankfully, nowadays marriage seemed to have become only a matter of feelings and mutual affection between the two persons. It was undoubtedly the start of a beautiful marital life that would be full of happiness. Smiling to herself with an expression of naive self-contentment, she kept staring at the obviously happy couple. As the song got closer to its end, she got more and more eager for the moment when John would ask Liza's hand to come and she almost believed her head would blast from all the impatience.

John pretended to have a really good time with Elizabeth but all he could think about was Jane who looked miserable at the other side of the place. Elizabeth was a nice girl but he thought she was too cheery and restless and he preferred Jane's calm and soothing company. He had tried to change Mr. Lockwood's mind, what's the difference between marrying one sister or the other ? But it seemed that Mr. Brocklehurst was determined to marry Elizabeth and not Jane. Apparently, he despised the youngest of his children so much and loved his eldest with such passion that he refused to sacrifice Elizabeth's happiness for Jane's. Besides, he had assured both men that the young woman wasn't interested in him and that he would soon forget his weakness once he'll know properly his future wife. He added that the ten thousand pounds he had promised only stood if John married Elizabeth. Thus, his father had been unbendable: he had to marry her so that her father's money would cover their debts. This was for the sake of the family. So he had agreed, unwillingly, to marry the eldest daughter. Besides, he was absolutely sure that Jane had no feelings for him and that she had her eyes on someone else. The Mayor's son seemed really interested in her. At least, he would get to have her as a sister-in-law. It was better than nothing at all. Still, he felt a twinge to his heart when their eyes met across the place. Her apparent, and enigmatic, look of sadness gave him such pain that he thought for a moment that his chest would blast.

It was right when the song was reaching its term, John was gathering all his courage to utter the long-awaited words and Jane was discreetly leaving the place while no one was looking, that it happened. Mr. and Mrs. Brocklehurst seemed to be on the edge of losing patience and Mrs. Blaster had finally shaken her memories away. Everyone seemed to be hanging on every word they would say and every move they would make. Elizabeth and John were sharing a last twirl and, at the second they had stopped spinning and John had finally opened his mouth, it all went down. Neatly, with much composure and confidence, you had pushed the red button from the terrace of the Golden Lion Hotel and everything disappeared in a deafening blast.