Allison walked quickly so as not to be seen by her friends, for her skirts were becoming more sullied by the minute. A pair of matronly women walked by her with a disapproving eye. She could feel their whispered rumors about her as she passed. Now the entire town will think I can’t comprehend how to keep myself properly presentable.Blast these incredulous skirts! She thought. It hadn’t been but two years ago that she had been permitted to wear whatever suited her, not that anyone much cared what she wore back then. What is it about these brainless, wealthy society types that make it pertinent for a girl to wear six-foot trains everywhere she goes? At this, the fair, blonde haired girl hiked up her skirts well above the accepted hemline as people began circulating around her about their business. The street only continued to become more polluted with her every step, as did many expressions of the male populace around her. Allison’s face reddened. Why do men gawk so when they see a pair of women’s shoes? This is perfectly ridiculous. A voice called her back to reality.
“Allie, darling, you must hurry up. Uncle James is still waiting for us in the office. The latest post from your mother will be there, and I suspect that this letter shall contain her approval for us!” called a familiar voice. A tall man with short black curls and black skin came into her view. Their faces both filled with excitement while a look of disgusted bewilderment appeared on the face of nearly all the surrounding humanity. Allison’s expression changed from excitement to embarrassment as soon as she realized the endearing term was generally reserved for courtships.
“Luke, do you know what a scene you have just created for me? Are you trying to make everyone hate us by calling me by my nickname? It isn’t as if mother just approved our marriage though you couldn’t tell based on the expression of nearly every woman around. And take your hand off of my waist!” she said with an offended whisper. Every word was said with the perfect eloquence and the charm of an offended southern bell.
“Well, I – ”
“You know that nearly half the town thinks we are in conspiracy together,” Luke moved his hand from her waist and offered his arm instead. She accepted it then continued, “And quite possibly we are, but I don’t want to be thought of as unseemly. It took us long enough to be understood as business partners before this current spectacle. You really oughtn’t –”
“Allie, just shush up and hurry now,” Luke said as he pulled her arm hard in exasperation. Allison blushed a bit at her unusual attitude and smiled up at him with an apologetic eye and was greeted by an understanding smile. What a dear, forgiving soul he is. “Well, come now!” he said with an air of pressing excitement.
By the time they arrived at the office, they were in great spirits, telling each other of the new gossip surrounding their relationship. As they entered the grandly decorated room, a rather rotund, pale man with a gray beard stood up beside a desk.
“Uncle James, how are you?” inquired Allison in a perfect manner.
“Hello, Luke. My dear, Allie!” His response was slow and studied. What an inconveniently perfect couple they could be. He thought. The younger two before him were still glowing with excitement. “And how are you, Luke? You look fine today as well.”
“I am well, sir,” he said in a decidedly deep and respectful way, “Thank you. I hear you have new interests about the business.”
“Oh, yes. There are…” James said in an introverted, disturbed manner. Those fools in the city have bungled up again! Allison thought with rage.
“Uncle James, is anything wrong at home?”
“Yes, if there is anything wrong, she should know of it!” Luke demanded protectively.
“Luke, my boy, there is no matter to raise your voice about.” James’ brow wrinkled in distress. “The fact of the matter is that Allie’s brother has been sick since last spring with the fever. Allie's mother has neglected to note it since she didn’t think it would amount to much but, just very recently, he had complications. He passed the night before, Allie. I’m sorry.”
Allison sat down, shocked. “No. No, he isn’t dead. He can’t be. He wouldn’t do that.” She swallowed hard. Luke sat beside her, as she tried to push him away unsuccessfully.
“He can’t be gone,” she hoarsely whispered.
Nobody moved for a long while, with only the sounds of her quiet sighs and sniffles composing a small tune. She gave up and leaned into Luke’s chest. The short rhythm soon turned into a heightening symphony that was ever growing.
“Allie girl, I’m going to take you back to the hotel now,” Luke said as the sobbing quelled. Placing one arm about her waist, he helped her to her feet. She felt smaller and weaker to him than ever before. All the passion of fighting for propriety left her. Luke bid farewell to James as he held Allison and walked out into the settling dusk of the sky.
Up the stairs of the hotel, he carried her, and to her room where he unlocked her door. By now, her body was limp. Placing her as comfortably as he could, he laid her on her bed with blankets pulled around her. Her eyes were still open but glazed over. He began toward the door when she whispered quietly, “Don’t leave, Luke. Please- say you won’t leave.”
He turned to see her face.
“No, I won’t leave you,” he whispered tenderly back. Then, going to the corner, he grasped a red velvet chair that appeared purple in the blue moonlight through the window. Setting it at her bedside, he sat down and started to undo her hairpins carefully.
“I’ll stay just as long as you need me.”
In my piece, I tried to accomplish showing the many aspects of being a friend. In Luke's case, he ultimately loves Allison even though she tries to push him away due to the impropriety of a black being frinds with a white in the late 1800's. He teases her and brings her joy but more importantly will always forgive her and be there to help her with her struggles. While she is grieving, she is provided with a shoulder to cry on. Allison, on the other hand, is learning to become less superficial. She learns that Luke will be trustworthy and honest with her always. She also learns that true friends don't need to be impressed with the way you look, they should always accept you, whether you wear a designer look or PJ's.