A Love Story for Valentine’s

D.C. van Ruijtenbeek found himself muted, paralyzed almost, by the extent of her beauty, as well as somewhat offended by her poise as she walked right past him without so much as a nod of her head. That same day, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek made inquiries as to who this stranger was who had left him with this longing in his heart. That same day, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek was standing before the doorway of Elaine Nesbit’s modest little house by the Great Salt Pond on the rear end of Philipsburg. This was in the summer of 1931. Twenty-five years later, on his deathbed, he would still describe it as the happiest day of his life, while she held his hand to ease his negotiation with Death.

He wrote to her every week for the following three years, without fail. But three years later, Elaine Nesbit still lived in her small, modest house by the marshlands, toward the Great Salt Pond in Philipsburg. One night, D.C. jumped on his sailboat and cut across the two-mile channel onto the bay of Cul-de-Sac. He had been drinking copiously at his farm, perhaps to forget the extent of his solitude, and he had taken a demijohn of rum along with him for the evening. Once at Lover’s Leap, he procured himself a horse and made his way from Dutch Cul-de-Sac to Philipsburg. He reached Elaine Nisbet’s house right at the stroke of midnight, amidst the darkest dark of night. Elaine could hear him coming long before he reached the steps that led him to her untidy veranda. When he saw her on the threshold of her doorway, barely covered in the thin nightgown she used more to protect herself from the mosquitoes than from anyone’s sight, he felt an intense anger grow inside his chest. He garnered the last bit of sobriety he could find in his consciousness and breathed in with intent, meaning to strike Elaine with a thunderous roar that could, perhaps, express the extent of his frustration. She stopped him in the middle of his gesture, grabbing the collar of his shirt with both hands and shoving him inside her house with more violence than he could have mustered.

The following morning, hungover and disoriented, D.C. van Ruijtenbeek understood there was nothing he could do to break this woman’s will. What do you want me to do? he asked more himself than her.

I wasn’t born to be no queen. The silence that ensued might have lasted a few centuries.

Fine–you win. But tonight you’ll leave this house for the last time: from now on we’ll live together in Lover’s Leap.

Elaine Nesbit and Degendarus Clement van Ruijtenbeek lived in his estate for over twenty years…

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