Eleanor walked into the library in a daze. There was nothing, and I repeat nothing worse than being stuck in a dingy room filled with musty books. She took in a deep breath and started coughing through all the dust floating around in the air.
“Better get used to it,” a voice snickered. “Or you won’t last long here.”
Eleanor whipped her head around, coming face to face with someone familiar. Oh dear. That mess of brown hair and haunting green eyes was recognizable everywhere. The most annoying kid at her University. William.
A smirk played across the boy’s face. “No need to get so excited over me,” indicating the dismayed expression on her face.
Eleanor rolled her eyes. “Where’s Amanda? She didn’t mention YOU were in our group, or I would have taken it up with the professor.”
“Well that just wouldn’t do! Quoting Amanda, she ‘didn’t want to be caught in the fire.’”
“Well, no thank you! I’m perfectly capable of doing this project on my own then.”
“Come on buttercup. We both know you suck at English. My grade depends on this project, too.”
Eleanor opened her mouth to retort, but clamped her mouth shut after realizing she had nothing to say.
Clapping his hands together, William grinned. “Oh this is gonna be fun.”
This is NOT gonna be fun, Eleanor sighed.
They went to check some of the older books that were available. The assignment was just to pick a random piece of literature that we haven’t read and talk about how it affected us. Ugh, liberal arts classes are the worst. “You’d think being an engineering major would get me out of them, but oh well. I hate literature.”
This caught William’s attention, who looked slightly offended. Eleanor chuckled. “Oops, forgot you were an English Major.”
William rolled his eyes, stopping Eleanor. “You haven’t found a book that’s made you feel yet.”
“Oh, what book would you recommend to make me FEEL THINGS, oh wise one?” Eleanor replied, her voice dripping with mock sincerity.
“You know, you remind me of a character from Pride and Prejudice. You are like Elizabeth in the sense that you are too proud. Or was she too prejudiced? Maybe you would enjoy that. Or wait, no you wouldn’t like that book, the characters actually grow and change.”
Eleanor felt the color rising in her cheeks. She didn’t always hate William. They used to be friends, until he asked her out one day. Eleanor freaked out and stopped hanging out with him. She didn’t know what else she could do.
After a couple of seconds of awkward silence, Eleanor began looking at the shelves again, her finger tracing the dust casked to the shelves. Every book they found, William already read, so looking for one that they both did not read was a challenge. That was until Eleanor found a book, almost falling apart about to fall off the shelf. She gently took it out and blew the dust in William’s face, giggling.
“Real nice,” William spurted, coughing all over the place.
“Eternity?” Eleanor repeated the cover’s title.
William glanced over her shoulder, looking at the title. “Hm, I’ve never read that one.”
“It looks like a bunch of letters, written from this one guy named Stuart.”
They quickly headed back to the table and William started reading the first letter.
To my dearest Janine,
The day I met you, my life had changed in the most unexpected way.
Eleanor rolled her eyes. How cheesy. William smiled like it was the most romantic thing he had ever heard.
The day I met you at the ball, my heart was forever taken from me. You took my breath away upon first glance. The minute I saw you, I felt as though we were meant to be together and every moment I spent with you has ever proved it to be true. Please hurry back from London as soon as possible so I can see your beautiful smile again. I just want to be by your side always. I have a surprise for you once you return here. I will be patiently awaiting your return, my love.
William breathed. “That was so sweet.”
Eleanor shook her head. “‘Took my breath away with your beautiful gown.’ Like how cheesy and awkward can you get?” She started smiling at how cheesy and innocent it was. Must have been a young lover.
William saw her smile to herself. He read the second letter. And the third and fourth. Finally, another one caught their eye.
My dearest Janine,
I heard around town that you are coming to visit here again. With your husband. Is this true? Did you meet someone new in London and fall in love? Janine, I must know. I have loved none other than you. But it seems you do not feel the same way. This could all be gossip, but I must know. If I don’t know.. I will be driven to madness. If this all does turn to be a rumor, will you be mine? Since that ball, you have been on my mind day and night. We are meant to be together? If you cannot see that, then I will just have to show you when you visit.
William was stunned. “Whoa,” was all that he managed to get out.
Eleanor got upset. “I cannot believe this Janine chick! Like she has this great guy who has loved her since the moment he met her, and yet she basically spends all her time in London, basically ignoring the guy! She probably got married behind his back, too! Most likely with someone who doesn’t love her as much as Stuart.
“Are you...feeling something?” William asked slyly. “Do I sense emotion from you?”
“Not a chance,” Eleanor bluffed.
William smiled. “Ok, next letter.”
I have met him. He seems like he is a wonderful person. But I wish you would have told me that you two were married. No, you SHOULD have told me. You have broken my heart Janine, but I suppose it makes no difference. In all my rage towards you and him, one thing still remains: my love for you. I have told you once before, and I will tell you again, I have loved none other than you. An overwhelming sadness consumes me as I imagine my life without you. You had my heart when you married that man and I will never get it back. Even after an eternity has passed, my feelings will not change. For you have and will always be my dearest Janine.
Eleanor was shaking slightly. This was all just so sad. “Stuart still loved her in the end.”
William gazed at her for a while and simply responded, “He did.”
The letters seemed to stop after that one, the rest of the book was empty, but it was not hard to imagine what happened next. Stuart was probably consumed with sadness and ended up alone, Eleanor reasoned. Once she came to that bitter conclusion, William and her started the report.
“It’s just that it seemed as though he loved her way more than she ever did. He deserved so much better.”
William was getting slightly frustrated, furiously scribbling away as Eleanor continued talking.
“Like who just ignores someone who loved them so deeply? It’s uncalled for.”
William snapped. “Oh I don’t know Eleanor. How about you?”
Eleanor fell silent. William? He used to be her friend. She never even tried to imagine being with him. She obviously thought he was extremely handsome and great in every possible way...wait. No, she hates William. She looked around, panicking. DId he really love her that deeply?
“I have loved you since the day I have known you, too. I had my heart ripped out by you. And you know what the worst part of it was? I lost a friend.”
She felt the color rising in her cheeks when he said that. She started blushing furiously. “I might like you too, but I need time to think about this. Can we just mend our friendship first?”
William nodded, and smiled weakly. “I’d like that.”