The day drags on in Aldeburgh; Minister Blakeley’s afternoon service ended about half an hour ago. Chores must be done, and not a soul abides along the stoney roads, for everything is closed on the Sabbath in the parish. Nothing is of interest, and there is really no news as of late. The world spins at a leisurely pace. Mrs. William Blakeley dashes about her home, working on the upkeep of the home and her two infants, yet her eldest is nowhere to be found; she thinks not of it, for perhaps she meets with a gentleman who wishes to court her, or she takes an afternoon stroll. The Sabbath is for rest after all, and Jane Blakeley seems to be doing quite a bit of that in the exposition of her womanhood.
“Well, well, well,” a familiar song hums its enchanting tune to Jane as she steps through a quaint neighbourhood. A tall, untamed girl steps to her side, and begins to stroll at Jane’s pace. Jane scoffs sarcastically at the remark; her gaze and manner softens like a vulnerable, fingered clay as she walks alongside the girl.
“Well, ‘tis Lizabette Finney once again, if it is no one else. What thought you of the service?” Jane crooks her neck to look up, a shimmer of naivete glimmering within almond eyes. Lizabette shrugs, pursing her lips as she analyses the same trees she walks past every day.
“Er, ‘twas a service, I suppose. Nothing all too fascinating, but ‘tis critical to learn and eagerly take in what you must.” Jane nods silently in agreement at the complexity; this is precisely the reason why her mother frowns upon the Finney family, for their peculiarity speaks louder than their subdued nature, or lack thereof. Jane recalls how her mother forbade her perambulate through that neighbourhood anymore, or as her father limns it, a “slum”. Yet some secretive predestination consistently seems to steer a godly and respectable woman such as Jane Blakeley back to the slum of the parish, and back to Lizabette Finney's familiar "well, well, well".
Jane and Lizabette come to the conclusion that on this Sabbath they should sit silently at a distance along the mucky shore which oversees the humble parish church. Clouds lay a holey blanket the sky, their irises of blue poking through hesitant fingers; Lizabette picks at the overgrown sedges in front of the blanket of linen dampened by grey, despondent waves, quietly enticing the girls toward the currents of the world unsung with foamy palms. Jane peers through her lashes at her acquaintance with an ardent eye, clandestinely admiring how Lizabette’s brows insignificantly crinkle when she’s concentrated on an activity.
“May I ask, what think you of Matthew Hollow?” Lizabette bunglingly wavers before throwing the hallowed name out into the open, her eyes darting around in hopes that he is not near. Jane draws in a sharp breath, which she feels dizzy her faintly as she sucks the crisp air through her teeth and swirls her tongue to encompass the idea briefly. Lizabette wipes her hands along her apron, and scans her peer’s microexpressions meticulously.
“Well, I shall be honest, I think not of him,” Jane whispers, glueing her eyes to the dirt. She spies an ant hiking the surface of her skirt, to which she cradles it, grimacing slightly as it tickles coming up toward the stay. Lizabette’s shoulders heighten as she sits to attention.
“Why, your candour speaks before your rehearsals can even get a chance,” Lizabette smirks, taking in the florid aura of the girl sitting beside her. The corners of Jane’s lips curl lightly upward, as she breathes in the compliment. A swift, brisk breeze releases Jane’s demeanour as she concocts how to move forward; her face contorts in all sorts of shapes before she can settle upon an expression that is as candid as her words.
“I thank you for your flattery, but truthfully I cannot say whether or not I corroborate my father’s, well, the town’s sentiment. I shan’t admit such a thing as long as I live, but that is my truth.” A pit settles in both their stomachs as a dismal, forbidding cloud seems to approach them from the ostensibly infinite horizon. The ant has crawled back down the stay, over the skirt, and back to its home within the dirt at the heightened whoosh of the wind.
“Well, why do you not wish to be resounding?” Lizabette proclaims casually, leaping onto her feet. She takes her hand within Jane’s, pulling her up and peering through her apprehensive, quick eyes. “‘Tis all from within, Jane. Do not displace yourself over such a silly matter as Matthew Hollow!”
“‘Tis not from within, and ‘tis everything but a silly matter, Lizabette. I find that I anxiously attempt to predict a life I cannot foresee, and while I sustain that it is an illogical activity I simply cannot cease it.” Jane’s tone becomes grave and edging toward a crackling whisper. Lizabette takes both of Jane’s hands into her own, and strokes the porcelain knuckles with her thumbs. A quiet gasp spreads its wings as Jane registers the visceral touch, before a wave of tranquillity and a flock of butterflies rushes without hindrance through the pure woman’s entire being.
“You shan’t describe your thoughts as iniquitous, Jane.” Lizabette’s voice seems to shatter a glass pane of fretfulness within her friend’s mind, and Jane clings restlessly onto every word. “Look, you have declared the truth to the whole ocean, and it has been freed to fly through the world like a bird!” Lizabette yells, dashing out suddenly toward the tide. She flings her arms out wide as she spins and bellows out to nothingness, forgetting how her petticoats become soaked by droplets of salty water. Perhaps it is not that she just forgets, but that Lizabette is footloose from the neatness of her appearance and the austerity in which she is expected. Jane sighs with the weight of the world upon her young, broad shoulders, yet her lips cannot resist upturning as she studies Lizabette wading in the water so buoyantly; it is something merely out of a painting. Her feet move prior to her brain, and before she can say a sentence five times fast she deserts the weight and launches herself into the painting of cool waves with Lizabette. The water tickles and stimulates Jane Blakeley's skin in a way the Bible never did; she wiggles her toes gleefully as she feels the sand fleeting from between them, propelling her forward without even taking a step. Jane typically dislikes the beach and the sea, but something about seeing Lizabette sloshing about makes it just a bit more sufferable. Their feet are quickly submerged within the water and evanescing into the sand; the girls canter freely and saunter out towards the expanse. They hop the waves, waltz, and simply apostatise the minute world of Aldeburgh which sombrely lies beyond the sedges and brownish pondweeds. The malignant clouds dissipate when Lizabette glances upward, thus revealing a bright sun which glimmers over the waves and reflects from the glass of her eyes, seducing Jane to stay just a moment longer with Lizabette in the painting. Jane Blakeley thinks not of Matthew Hollow, this is true. She thinks not of Matthew Hollow for the sole reason that she is enamoured only with Lizabette Finney in this moment which seems to last an eternity.