May I have this Dance, the End of the Chase
Sweeney's eyes shot open as he discovered he was in a mysterious place. He searched around for anything that seemed familiar while his brain scrambled to remember what happened. He tried to sit up and there was a terrible shooting, aching pain in his chest. He lifted up the blanket of the bed he was in. His chest was purple, blue, and red. Seeing the horrid bruises and adding the pain he felt when he breathed; he was sure of it, his ribs were broken, and possibly, in multiple places.
There was movement next to him, footsteps coming closer. Once he saw the red curls, he relaxed. He held his hand out to her. "Nellie?" he sighed, relieved.
She grasped onto his hand. "Oh, my love," she mused, gently running her fingers through his hair. "How bad does it hurt?"
He swallowed and tried to explain the pain to her but just talking alone hurt. There were voices and shuffling coming from outside the room. He pieces together that he's in a hospital of sorts. A man's voice spoke from outside the room. Sweeney's eyes narrowed; he could barely understand what the doctor was saying. Nellie's head spun around as if she was being called. He squeezed her hand, not wanting her to go. "I'll be back in a jiff, dear." He opened his mouth to object as she pecked his cheek. She was out of the room, vanished from his side as if in a puff of smoke.
The doctor must have injected him with narcotics, as soon as Nellie vanished from his fingertips, his head hit the pillow. He woke up to the room being dark, except for a few lit candles, and Nellie sitting next to him with her head down, asleep. She had her arm draped over his, hand stretching towards his chest as if nothing would ever hurt him while she was there.
"Mrs. Lovett?" he asked gently. She rolled her head, moaning a bit.
Her eyes grew wide once more and a smile formed her lips as she saw him. "Love? How are you feeling?"
"What exactly happened?" his voice was hoarse.
"You got hit by a bloody carriage." She said almost laughing. "Apologies dear, it's not funny. We just can't catch a break, can we?"
"Do you know where we are?" Sweeney asked trying to sit up. The pain was killing him.
"No idea." She pressed a hand to his shoulder, "Easy dear, no need to strain yourself. I was thinking, no need for us to hurry. Take time to heal your bones."
"No need to hurry, eh?" He reaches his hand out for the glass of water on the nightstand. Nellie hands to him, and helps him ease himself up. "Been using our new names. No one suspects a thing."
He would've smiled if his chest wasn't in such excruciating pain every time he breathed in and breathed out. "What does the doctor say? About my condition?"
"You have three broken ribs and terrible bruising. You're lucky dear, it could've been worse."
He grunted as a response. "I want you to find out exactly where we are." he said after a long pause. He sunk back down on the bed to get more rest.
"Yes dear," she muttered, he was already asleep.
As much as she didn't want to leave his side, she needed to find out their location and how to plan their next move. She stood up on her boots and existed the room, closing the door gently behind her. The doctor looked up as she stepped into the hall.
"How's your husband fairing?" he asked.
Nellie almost fainted from hearing the phrase "your husband". She shook the sweet thoughts from her head. Remembering they had aliases to follow now. He isn't her husband, he's Margery's husband. And his name is Sebastian Oakley not Sweeney Todd. "I think he's doing fine. In a bit of pain." She took a step closer to the man. "But you're the doctor not me." She said with a nervous laugh.
The doctor smiled warmly, chuckling a bit. "You've been watching him like a hawk madam." He looked down at his notes, possibly for a different patient. "It warms my heart to see a married couple so in love."
Nellie almost chocked. Before her fantasies of living a happy marriage with Sweeney could take over her thoughts, as they usually tended too, she remembered the task at hand. "This might seem like a silly question doctor, what town is this?"
"We're in Lincoln ma'am."
Her jaw fell and she almost fainted again. "Lincoln?" she stuttered in disbelief. "In the north? In the north of England?"
The doctor looked amused but also a bit concerned of her reaction. "Yes, ma'am. Are you alright? Do I need to look over you as well?" he asked taking a step towards her.
Nellie shook her head, stepping back. "No, no. Apologies sir, I… the map I was using must have been wrong. I thought we'd be near Cheshire, heading west."
"Sorry to disappoint."
"No, no its quite alright. Any town will do honestly. We're finding a nice place to settle."
"Starting a family?" the doctor asked.
Nellie forgot how to breathe. "Possibly," she managed to squeak out.
"I won't make you uncomfortable any longer." The doctor said, puffing out his chest, preparing himself to take care of more patients. "Lincoln is a beautiful town. Go. Explore all you can. I'll take care of your husband." With that he turned to leave. Nellie was blushing from hearing the word "husband" again. It'd take a while to get used to. "Oh, one more thing I forgot to mention." The doctor said looking back to her. "I recommend settling in the next town over. They'd love to have new residents. They're a small fishing community, by the sea. Grimsby is the name."
Nellie watched the doctor's back as he left. Was this fate? Was he an angel? She stepped outside feeling much more at ease than when she first entered the town. She walked through the streets grinning from ear to ear. She couldn't help it. They were at least a good seventy miles or so from London, they've successfully made it almost half way across all of England, just to land near a good town that was actually by the sea. She stopped next to the market taking in a deep breath. She basked in the sunlight, feeling thankful. Things were changing.
"Ma'am!" a young man's voice sounded behind her. Her eyebrows furrowed; she didn't want any strangers ruining her good mood. She put on a smile nonetheless. When she saw the lad who approached her, bending over, catching his breath, she remembered who he was. It was the driver that hit Sweeney Todd with a carriage. "Ma'am, glad I caught you. I was waiting outside the hospital but you went the opposite way." He grabbed onto Nellie's hands making her recoil. "I know I've already said it numerous times, but I'm so terribly sorry. It's my first week as a mail carrier. I'm not used to driving the horse drawn buggies yet. My boss is furious with me." He gripped Nellie's hand harder, leaning in as she leaned away. "Please if there's anything I could do for you. I can give you some money, buy you something in town…"
"No, no dearie, its quite alright." Nellie said to silence the stuttering boy. And removing her hands from his.
"Are you sure ma'am?" he continued.
"Yes, dearie." Nellie made to leave the apologetic lad when an idea hit her. He's a mail carrier. He could be useful. She spun around to face him. "There is something you could help me with." She began. The boy smiled, excitedly. Nellie grimaced a bit, he reminded her too much of Toby. "Directions to Grimsby would be nice."
"Of course, ma'am, I go there all the time."
"And," Nellie looked a little unsure. "Could you send a letter to someone for me?"
"It'd be my pleasure ma'am." He smiled, bowing. "Shall we go to a pub." The boy gestured to one nearby. "I'll buy you lunch." Not wanting to spend too much time with the lad, but the thought of lunch sounding really good at the moment, Nellie agreed.
"My name's Issac." He said holding out his hand.
She almost said Mrs. Lovett but caught herself. "Mrs. Oakley." she shook his hand.
Issac the mail carrier sat across from Nellie at a table in Lincoln's pub. He was about seventeen years old and the boy went on and on about this girl he was trying to woo. It was all romantic but for Nellie, believe it or not, she wasn't in the mood for conversating. She sat there, a half-eaten potatoes, carrots, and squash and a slab of fish that she didn't even touch yet by her right with an empty mug of water. Her fingers were scribbling away on a piece of parchment. She would only look up to dab more ink onto her pen. She kept having to stop, her pen frozen in midair as she thought of what to say to her aunt Nettie. She was making a dangerous decision writing to her aunt, but she trusted the woman more than herself. She needed to know what has happened with her. If the wanted posters were true, and Nellie Lovett was dead, her Nettie was probably suffering a heart attack from hearing the news.
Finally, Nellie sat back up, setting the pen down and reading through her letter. She explained about disappearing from Fleet Street, not to respond until Nellie wrote her again from her new home, she even told her aunt to burn the letter. She signed it as Margery Oakley. Nettie would know who it's from, with Nellie's handwriting and all. She felt nervous reading through it, should she code the wording in some way? Its not as if she admitted to murders in the letter, she made sure not to mention them at all. She just mentioned leaving Fleet Street with a man she plans to marry.
It did no good, worrying over it. She made up her mind, addressing the letter to be sent to Liverpool, and handed the sealed envelope to Issac. "I'll get it delivered ma'am; you can count on me." He smiled.
It was getting late, and Issac escorted Nellie back to the hospital as the sun started to set. "To get to Grimsby, you could follow the path through town, its about a full day's time." He was explaining on the way to the hospital. "To tell the truth ma'am," he leaned in closer to Nellie, "I'd recommend a shortcut. You can cut through this field over here," he pointed to his left. "And it'll lead you straight there. You'll see a hill overlooking a rich manor, that's how you know you're going the right way. Then you'll come to a cliff edge. It'll start to go downhill leading to the beach, then you can follow the coast to the town. Once you hear the ocean, you'll know you're there." He smiled. And they approached the steps of the hospital.
"Thank you, dear." Nellie said facing him. He nodded turning to leave but Nellie stopped him. "And Issac," she called after him. "Tell that girl how you feel." He blushed a bit and nodded once more. "And learn to drive better." Nellie hollered at him again, laughing.
"Farewell ma'am," he waved and playfully bowed in her direction. Nellie watched him go, feeling a bit forlorn. She silently wished the best for him and stepped through the hospital doors to check on her injured barber.
By his bedside she retold everything she learned from Issac.
"I'm incapacitated for one day and you already find a new man." Sweeney teased while sipping black tea. "The nerve."
"He was barely a man," Nellie laughed. She shoved him playfully then immediately regretted it as he winced. He sighed softly as she frets over him, continuously asking if he was alright, if the pain was gone. He rolled his eyes, but the corners of his mouth twitched upward into an almost smile. He secretly loved it.
A week had gone by and Sweeney was able to sit up, stand, walk around and do several things on his own. With frequent rest breaks of course as he was still very sore. The doctor gave them the go ahead to continue on their journey. Sweeney and Nellie nodded they're thanks to him. They had their bag packed and were ready to head out again.
"So you're decided on Grimsby?" the doctor asked.
"We have." Nellie said.
"Then might I suggest staying in the Clay Inn till you get settled. Moncia Clay is her name. Very sweet woman, treats her patrons fairly." The doctor smiled shaking their hands, wishing them the best of luck.
They followed the path, Issac told them to, heading off to the left into an open field where they eventually found a small path leading them towards the sea.
The sound of the ocean was still unheard, plus they had to stop frequently for Sweeney to take it easy. The walking was sucking his energy a lot more frequently than it used to. And the more breathing he had to do the more his ribs ached. Nellie tried to care for him, offer him water, anything to ease the pain. His sour attitude came out and he'd shoo her off every time.
Eventually, they found the manor with a fancy gala going on. The sun was just about to set, they have been walking all day, with hardly any nourishment, and were growing irritable. As they walked towards the house, they were considering going in and blending in with the crowd, maybe snagging some free food. Since they were running low on resources. They climbed up the back porch and could hear music blaring from inside. And decided it'd be best if they moved on before getting spotted by any unwanted attention. Nellie stopped on the porch, recognizing the music playing. She remembered it from her youth, her father taught her the dance that goes along with it. Something very bouncy, catchy, chaotic.
Feeling giddy, most likely due to the fact that she hasn't eaten a proper meal in a while, she grabbed Sweeney's hand and started dancing. He began to protest but gave in, being too tired to even pretend like he didn't want to dance with her. And let her show him how the dance worked. It was a lot of foot banging and stomping around, swinging of hips. Quite childish. They could hear people inside dancing to the same rhythm. The guests were so loud that it drowned out the demon couple.
A feeling of freedom washed over them, and a sense of nostalgia. Within minutes they felt as if they were thirteen years old again and were jumping around with their arms flailing like chaotic children, it felt fantastic. After a while, Sweeney's stamina ran dry, he leaned against the brick of the house, feeling dizzy. He held his injured side, where his busted ribs protested by his many movements.
Nellie's stamina held strong and he watched her in amazement as she twirled around. The hair tie holding her hair in place, fell out in her dancing frenzy. And her long auburn curls flew in the moonlight. Sweeney watched her, thinking he hasn't witnessed anything so beautiful in a long time. He's very thankful they took the extra steps to investigate this party going on, for he wouldn't have notice his former partner in this new light. It ignited some courage in him. He grabbed her wrist to stop her constant twirling to look into his eyes. She was sweating and out of breath. He watched her thinking that he almost, almost loved her.
She was grinning ear to ear from the dancing, her chest rising and falling rapidly. Her expression changed to confusion from the looks he was giving her. Not annoyed, nor angry, like usual; but something new, something different. Her grin vanished as he continued to slowly lean in, his gaze on her lips. Before she could ask what, he was doing, his hand snaked around to her back and they were kissing.
It was long, and getting more and more aggressive as the seconds went on. The music inside slowed down, it was beautiful. Nellie placed her hands on the sides of his face, she was fully trapped in his arms. They explored each other's mouths and stayed in the embrace even when they came up for air. The music inside slowed to a halt, it was romantic.
This dancing scene was the first scene I wrote for this rewrite back in 2019 before Christmas. I can't believe I've finally come to a full circle. Back then, I never imagined I'd make it this far. Thanks to everyone reading. You inspire me to keep writing and living my dream.